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Rangers Vs. Lightning: When Dancing With Death

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The Rangers continue to live on the edge.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

This is the dance the Rangers love to dance.

I don't know what it is about this core (and I'll use the word core because last year's group was the same way) but something changes in them when they hear a knock at the door and death is what they see in the peephole. There's something about having their backs against the wall that puts a fire in their eyes they won't otherwise get.

It's almost like they need the rush to feel alive. Which is ironic, because playing this game brings them closer to death each and every time.

The reality of the situation is while it's difficult to overcome a 3-2 series deficit, it's not as herculean as the Rangers 3-1 hole was against the Washington Capitals. The difference, of course, is that Tampa Bay is a much better team than Washington.

I have all the faith in the world the Rangers can easily win this series, while also understanding it's very likely the Rangers can't dig their way out of this hole. If that makes sense.

This is a team you should believe in, even though the deck is stacked against them. You should believe in them because they're not only capable of winning but they're also capable of dominating. The Rangers are one of those rare teams that somehow is able to jump from "how the hell did they make the playoffs" (Game 5) to "how the hell has this team lost a game in the playoffs" (Game 4).

Which brings me to my other point: There have been times in this series where the Rangers were very clearly the better team. There have, of course, been times where the Rangers were very clearly the worse team, but those moments exist.

I can run you through the Henrik Lundqvist stats, but you've probably already seen them. I can talk about how Rick Nash needs to score a few more goals and how Martin St. Louis might be playing his last game as a Ranger tonight. How the Rangers best players need to play like their best players because one mistake could kill them for good.

I can talk about how the Rangers have gotten outcoached, again, in this series. Or how Dan Girardi is struggling mightily against the speedy Lightning, to the point where he's become a liability every time he gets on the ice.

I can tell you all about how the Rangers need Chris Kreider to put his stamp on this game. How they desperately need his speed and scoring touch. How younger kids like J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Jesper Fast (who have been good in this series) are being called on to step up as well. How Marc Staal and Carl Hagelin have been underappreciated in this series. Ho

I can tell you a lot of things. But the only thing that really matters is this: If the Rangers win tonight, they're going to survive until Friday, for another Game 7 at Madison Square Garden. If they lose, the season ends here, and nothing else matters.