Ever since I started writing for this blog (and even more after I took it over) I've been accused of being too optimistic. I never really understood that line of thinking, honestly. Whatever happens is going to happen, regardless of what I think or feel. I don't play the games, I'm not in the locker room and I'm not making the front office decisions. That still doesn't stop people from accusing me of not caring enough and having no idea what I'm talking about.
But the truth is, I'm just like everyone else. I get mad, frustrated and pissed off. I just don't allow those emotions to cloud my view of this team or how I root for this team.
This weekend we visited by girlfriend's grandparents. They have a ton of property in upstate New York, somewhere around 100 acres. There's a mountain on their property. Seriously, it's their mountain.
Anyway. After the Rangers lost I went out onto the porch and sat down, that familiar sinking feeling in my stomach. I looked at the mountain in the distance and watched the vultures make long, sweeping loops around their next meal.
"Is that a sign that there are vultures flying around the Rangers right now?" I asked the Hockey Gods out loud. They didn't answer.
They never do.
See, the thing about sports is: You never know.
I remember Game 5 of the Rangers series with Washington last year. For 59:30 myself and rest of Madison Square Garden watched the Rangers pepper the Capitals with over 40 shots only to see the scoreboard flash 2-1 in favor of Washington. At that moment winning that game felt like the impossible. It felt like a six-goal hole, not a one-goal hole.
Do you know what happened next?
18,200 people got onto their feet. 18,200 people started screaming at the top of their lungs in support of the Rangers. 18,200 people didn't quit. And when Brad Richards scored with less than six seconds left to tie the game the place went nuts. And when Marc Staal scored the game winner in the first minutes of overtime to win the game the place went even crazier. And the only thing I could think of as I was walking out of MSG was: "Did that actually just happen? Did I really just see what I thought I saw? Did We really win that game?"
Hockey is a game of momentum. Even more in the playoffs when so much is on the line. The Rangers can easily win both games at MSG. Have the Capitals been that much better? If the Rangers had the Capitals' luck in the first two games the series can easily be 2-0 New York.
Obviously the Capitals are up 2-0. They have gotten the job done while the Rangers haven't. But that doesn't mean you can't make a very logical case to say that this series hasn't been as lopsided as the series score shows. That's not to say the Rangers aren't in trouble. And it's not to say that losing on Monday night would be about as close to catastrophic as you can possibly get without the whole thing blowing up.
This series is a long way from over. The Capitals puck luck has to stop eventually. The Rangers' offense will come alive. Henrik Lundqvist will always be Henrik Lundqvist. The Garden will be a nuthouse. The Rangers are starting to get healthy again.
If you don't think Ryane Clowe, a more adapted Derek Dorsett and Marc Staal (maybe) won't help, I don't know what to tell you. If you don't think the Capitals have gotten lucky (you don't think all those posts changed the outcome of Game 2?) then it is what it is. All I'm saying, is this series can change in an instant. It happens all the time. Why not now?
I believe in this team for a lot of reasons. I believe this team has the talent to win. I believe because this team wants to win. I believe because the leadership of this team won't let them down. I believe because there are people in that locker room like Ryan McDonagh who is enough of a man that he can cry over thinking he cost his team the game.
I believe. You might not. And if you don't, that's fine. But when the Rangers pull this off, remember who believed and who didn't.
I know the Rangers still believe. And right now that' all that matters.