This really isn’t going to be easy in any way, is it? Not for the Canadiens. Not for the Baby Buffaloes. Not for the Hurricanes. And certainly not for the Rangers.
These teams all seem to win every time they have to win.
As you know, Montreal defeated Chicago in OT last night, and the Baby Buffaloes beat Tampa Bay, and the Rangers — after learning they’ve lost their leader, their soul — fell all the way back down to eighth.
The Magic Number remains at 3.
Tonight the Hurricanes play at home against Detroit in the only game relevant to the four-team chase for three spots. Want to bet the Canes win and force the Rangers to win both of their games to get in?
And, given the way it has gone, and given the way the Rangers have responded this season, they probably will win both if they have to win them.
The remaining schedule involving the four teams:
Wednesday—Detroit at Carolina; Thursday—Atlanta at Rangers; Montreal at Ottawa; Friday—Philly at Baby Buffaloes; Carolina at Atlanta; Saturday —Devils at Rangers; Montreal at Toronto; Tampa Bay at Carolina; Baby Buffaloes at Columbus; Sunday—none.
I was talking to Sean Mayer — who, by the way, I want to thank for pinch-hitting on the Ryan Callahan news yesterday while I was unavailable — and came to the realization that losing a key player isn’t necessarily fatal in the playoffs. In fact, teams often rally around the adversity.
Some quick examples, and if you can think of others, please share:
1991-92: Adam Graves breaks Mario Lemieux’s hand in the second round. The Penguins fall behind the Rangers two games to one. And they rally to win that series and the next and, after Mario makes an early return, the Stanley Cup, not losing another game along the way.
1992-93: Dale Hunter cheap-shots Pierre Turgeon out of the playoffs in the first round. The depleted Islanders go on to shock the two-time defending champ Penguins without Turgeon before losing in the Eastern Conference final.
2000-01: Colorado’s Peter Forsberg’s spleen ruptures, requiring emergency surgery at the end of the second round. The Avalanche go on to win the Stanley Cup without Forsberg.