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Rangers Vs. Lightning: It's Important They Believe

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You don't need to believe in anything.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

No, the headline above this story has nothing to do with you or me. At the end of the day it doesn't matter whether or not you or I think the Rangers can somehow pull themselves out of this 2-1 hole (this is sarcasm), or if you believed in the Rangers when they went down 3-1 in the Second Round and were down 1-0 in that deadly Game 5 until Chris Kreider scored with 101 seconds left.

No, we don't play as critical of a role as you might think. Being loud in The Garden, believing in your team while they're playing right in front of you is, of course, different. But between the Rangers loss to the Lightning in the opening act of Game 3's overtime and today? It matters little.

The reality of the situation is simple: These New York Rangers are very good at making life difficult for themselves. There's another part too: These New York Rangers are also very good at feeling their backs against the wall and coming together to overcome even the most difficult mountains of adversity.

But don't let that stop the panic, because it hasn't. Derek Stepan needed to answer a plethora of questions about whether or not he believed the Rangers were done, because apparently no NHL team has ever come back from a 2-1 series deficit before.

It gets taken to new levels when the team's own media -- in this case a certain writer for the New York Post -- buys into the panic as well. Apparently Alain Vigneault was asked about starting Henrik Lundqvist in Game 4. And Vigneault found this question funny. I will not link to the piece, you're adults and if you so wish to read a take hotter than the sun and reward them for the story you can Google it yourself, but this writer wrote a column today defending his question by bringing up another starting goaltender for another team in another city in another playoff series from 2011 as evidence.

Because, of course, Vigneault's decision to start Roberto Luongo in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final as the coach of the Vancouver Canucks is applicable to the situation at hand right now.

I am not in the locker room every day, but I can assure you this team believes in themselves. This is a team that's come 102 seconds away from death, climbed a 3-1 hill in the process and did so knowing they could do it. The belief in the room is far more important than the belief outside of it, I promise you.

It helps that the problems plaguing the Rangers right now are extremely fixable. Stupid mistakes, lack of defensive communication and even dumber penalties. The Lightning are a very good hockey team, yes, but the Rangers have also done a really good job of shining the spotlight on their strengths rather than their flaws. And like any good team (and Tampa Bay is a good team) the Lightning took the inch and ran a mile.

So people who should know better are questioning Lundqvist despite the fact that it was his heroics that got us here in the first place. It's sad, really, that Lundqvist has been so exceptional his entire career that the moment he gives up more than two goals a game two games in a row people turn on him. That he's been so good perfection is the only acceptable outcome and even the smallest blemish on a single game is enough to make the masses turn. We don't deserve him, that's how good he's been.

This team knows better. They've done this before -- hell they've done worse before -- and they're more than capable of doing it again. As annoying at it might be to be your own worst enemy, it also means your problems are fixable. And that believe starts internally.

So, yes, it was a laughing matter to Vigneault when he was asked about sitting Lundqvist. Probably because the question has never even been thought to be thought about in the locker room.