May 25, 2012
Rangers doing it the hard way — again
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
NEW YORK - They are the last high seed standing in these NHL playoffs, but can the New York Rangers last another night?
The Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed will attempt to fend off elimination Friday night in Newark and force a seventh game back at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. They'll have to do it against a New Jersey Devils team that has scored nine goals in the past two games and is looking to book a fifth trip to the Stanley Cup final.
"I think our team really embraces a challenge," Rangers coach John Tortorella said following a brief morning skate before his team ships across the Hudson River for Game 6 at the Prudential Center.
"You want to try to have an easier road going through and when you don't and as we've gone through the playoffs we've had to get some things accomplished in tough games."
In Round 1, for example, the Rangers also trailed 3-2 in their seres after Game 5 and needed to dig deep to put aside the eighth-seeded Ottawa Senators before also going seven games in Round 2 to bounce the Washington Capitals.
Back in 1994, the Rangers also come back from a 3-2 series hole to the Devils in a memorable Eastern Conference final that sent the Blueshirts on to their first Cup win since 1940.
To force another Game 7, the Rangers will likely need to return to the style of play that got them here — an at-times grinding approach to limit opponents chances. They did it in a 5-3 Game 5 loss, holding the Devils to just 17 shots, but three bad goals in the first nine minutes took them out of the game.
"We're not a fancy team," Tortorella said. "We're a straight-ahead hockey club. I think our mental approach is there. I think we have a really good mindset right now."
The Rangers can take heart from the fact that the Devils haven't exactly been dominant in Game 6 situations with a 12-12 record overall and a 7-7 record at home. New York has also gotten the better of their cross-river rivals in the past, winning four of five previous playoff series.
"I don't think that anybody thinks it's won," Devils forward Patrik Elias said. "We're in a great spot but we know it's going to be a really tough game."