I know a lot of New York Rangers fans love to be negative. And honestly, I can't blame them. The oldest fans have seen four Stanley Cups in over 85 years. One cup since 1940. Countless heartbreaks along the way. It's tough. I know it is even though I've only been a fan for 24 years - and really, to me, you can't fully comprehend sports until you're around 17 or 18 so really six years.
Isn't it funny how you have to be able to "comprehend" sports? You have to know what you're getting yourself into. You have to sign the contract. The "Work?" Invest a ton of your life, time and emotions into something you can't control. The reward? Feeling like you've not only won the championship with your team but traveled on the journey with them. The fine print? Sports reserves the right to kick you in the gut over and over again, stomp on your emotions like they're a spider in your bedroom, have no regard for your feelings at all; all the while giving you hope year after year that next year will be different.
Sometimes being a sports fan is the greatest thing in the world.
Most of the time it's the worst.
And there's the "fun." You strive for that moment when it is the best. You dream of that moment when they win it all. When Mark Messier lifted the Stanley Cup in 1994 every true Rangers fan felt like they were lifting it too. That's the moment you strive for as a sports fan. The Rangers didn't just break the curse in 1994, they did it with the help of the fans (or so we like to think). But it's a long road to get there. Some teams take a longer road than others. You never know which road your team is on. That's the risk. That's the gamble.
So when the Rangers went down 2-0 to the Boston Bruins thanks to an embarrassing third-period effort in Game 2, I felt that familiar gut punch followed by a sweeping wave of hope. That hope is what I'm going to share with you now. Because, honestly, why be negative? What's going to happen is going to happen. This team had made it this far, there's no reason not to think they can pull it out. Even if you think a comeback is irrational (I don't, but I'm generally far more optimistic than the average fan) you may as well throw yourself headfirst into it. What do you have to lose?
Here we go:
Rick Nash - Scored his first goal of the playoffs on a beautiful rush to the net to tie the game at two. You could see the weight lifted off his shoulders. He was an animal the rest of the period and into the third (despite most of the team deflating like a balloon with a cannonball shot through it). Sometimes with players it's all about the mental aspects of the game. Carp recently suggested that he didn't think Nash was injured after seeing that rush for the goal. I'm not so sure, but I'm not in the room and he would know better than me. I'm just saying Nash looked a whole Hell of a lot better once he lit the lamp. That should translate into Game 3 on home ice.
The Defense - Can't be much worse than it was on Sunday, right? It seems like the Rangers' defense had everything that could go wrong go wrong in Game 2. Girardi will never be that bad again, Michael Del Zotto will (hopefully) never be paired with Girardi ever again. It's doubtful the Rangers' defense will be perfect the rest of the series, but there's no way the Rangers' defense will be that bad again. That was truly the perfect storm.
The Effort - Removing the overtime in Game 1 and the third period in Game 2, the Rangers have easily hung with the Bruins and even been the better team for stretches. Yes, obviously those major breakdowns have cost them both games and those have to stop. But the Rangers have to know, as they go back to New York, that they can be the better team in this series. They have to know that what they've done has worked, they just haven't sustained it (which is a problem within itself, but we're being positive, remember?). This isn't as deep of a 2-0 hole as it seems.
MSG - The NBC broadcast was talking about MSG as though it was some kind of magical building that can make the Rangers much better and the atmosphere might throw other teams off. Oh, wait, it is. Moving on then ...
The Power Play - It can't get any worse, right? Guys? Guys? Helloooo? Is this thing on?
Ryan Callahan - He's starting to come alive. He might be injured too, to be honest, but that was a pretty big God Damn goal am I right? (I'm full of jokes today, not sure why).
The Bruins Rookie Defense - They can't be that good every game this series. Maybe the atmosphere at MSG will unnerve them.
John Tortorella - It's time for him to make adjustments. To this point he hasn't had his forwards cover the point in the defensive zone (well, until the puck gets there) and he hasn't made any changes to the power play. He has to know that the season is on the brink thanks to those two problems. He has to fix them.
The Confidence - The Bruins underestimated the Toronto Maple Leafs and nearly blew a 3-1 series lead. Don't tell me the Rangers can't come back in this series. Don't tell me this team hasn't given you enough reasons to believe they can come back and win this series. As unlikely as you think it is - no team in NHL history has ever won two series in which they were down 2-0 - it's possible.
That's why we watch sports. Sometimes amazing things happen that blow your mind and you remember forever.
That's part of the contract, too.