Rangers Vs. Bruins: Time To Step Up

Bruce Bennett

The Rangers need to step up. If they don't their season is over.

It starts with a win.

Here's the funny thing about being down 3-0 in a playoff series: The pressure disappears completely from the losing team. There is nothing left for the New York Rangers to lose. The hockey world has left them for dead, the Boston Bruins think Game 4 is a formality and many Rangers fans have already thrown themselves off the cliff rather than watch the Rangers get swept.

Look, I know how unlikely it is that any hockey team can come back from being down 3-0. Sometimes playoff games are decided more by luck or a strange bounce than anything else, and generally when you're down 3-0 the bounces aren't going in your direction. And more often than not the losing team is so deflated they don't even show up for Game 4 and get run out of whatever building it is they're in.

But the reality of the situation is that a win in Game 4 slowly pushes the pressure back on the Bruins. Now the Bruins absolutely have to win Game 5 because they certainly don't want to come back to Madison Square Garden for Game 6. Maybe the Rangers get an early goal, score on the power play, take a two-goal lead and suddenly the Bruins start realizing that they're going to have to beat the Rangers on Broadway to avoid a Game 7.

Maybe the Rangers come out in Game 6 jacked out their minds. There's still nothing left to lose, right? You've already won two games, you're playing at home, the Garden is rocking because no one thought you were going to take the series this far anyway and the bench is thinking the same thing. There's still no pressure on the Rangers, there's a ton of pressure on the Bruins and everyone knows it. And now there's doubt in their room, too.

This is a Bruins team that has blown a 3-0 lead before. Most of the current players were on that team. On one hand that's a good thing for Boston because those players have the experience of blowing a 3-0 lead before and are more prepared to deal with that type of adversity as it comes. On the other hand, it has to be running through their minds that they've lost a series like this before and that creeping fear that it's happening again.

So say the atmosphere pushes the Rangers over the edge. They win Game 6 and suddenly this series that everyone thought was over, this team that everyone thought was dead, just forced a Game 7 after being down 3-0.

Now try to imagine what's going on in that Bruins' locker room before Game 7. Imagine the pressure on Boston, how good the Rangers would have to be feeling, how significantly the momentum of this series has tilted. Maybe the Rangers ride that momentum, the Bruins are shaky, afraid to make mistakes. The Rangers take advantage. Score an early goal, Henrik Lundqvist is Henrik Lundqvist, the Bruins can't score, they're frustrated, they're not playing well and suddenly it's over, the Rangers have completed the comeback.

It might be unlikely, but it's not impossible.

Either way, a comeback like that starts with a win.

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