If you're the New York Rangers, this is all you really wanted when the horn went off after Game 4 and the series was 3-1 in favor of Pittsburgh. The Rangers won Game 5, maybe put a little bit of a doubt in Marc-Andre Fleury's mind, and forced a Game 6 at home in what should be a wild Madison Square Garden.
The pressure, believe it or not, is back on the Penguins.
Pittsburgh wants nothing to do with a Game 7 in two days. Hell, they wanted nothing to do with this Game 6, either. But here we are anyway. With all the talk about how the Rangers need to be the more aggressive team, how they need to keep pushing the Penguins back on their heels and how they need to make sure they're dictating the pace, we've seen very little of that this series. We saw a lot of it in Game 5, and now we're here.
However, that fire the Penguins lacked in Game 5 will be roaring tonight. There is a lot of debates on whether or not teams who aren't in must-win scenarios can muster up the battle level of a team who is. Well, that point is moot tonight. Both teams want it. Both teams (in a sense) need it just as much as the other.
The Rangers, who played a very emotional game on Friday, are being asked to do the same thing tonight. And if they walk out of the Garden the victors, they'll be asked to do it again. This is a very difficult situation for everyone involved. Martin St. Louis is proving the type of player he always has been by suiting up for these games. The team did a remarkable job rallying around him on Friday, but how much is too much to ask for?
Mentally this needs to be one of the most difficult times many of these guys have gone through as a hockey player. It's like watching a friend have something tragic happen to them, and then having to go back to work the next day with the friend and if you screw up you're fired.
The question isn't how long can this last? It's not.
The question is: How loud can the Garden be in honor of a guy continuing to play after going through a situation that would stop t he earth's rotations for 99.99% of us?
Thank you, Marty. I hope this isn't the last time the Garden sees you this year.