No guarantees on a big Game 6 anniversary

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Here is Josh’s story from The Journal News and LoHud.com today:

By Josh Thomson, 26

NEW YORK — Though not quite pushed, they were certainly prodded. Questions were asked tongue-half-in-cheek, while the pens and notebooks remained ready to recreate Rangers history on the eve of the franchise’s biggest game since June 1994.

Each time, they’d respond with a smile, yet in no way were Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and the rest of this team’s leadership group going where Mark Messier had 18 years to the very day — and prior to another must-win Game 6 in New Jersey.

Perhaps the closest anyone in blue treaded to Messier’s guarantee was John Tortorella, but his proclamation had nothing to do with the outcome of Game 6. The coach offered assurances that his goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, and Richards, the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner, would play better after scuffling through Game 5.

“I just know Hank will play his best game tomorrow night,” Tortorella said.

“I expect (Richards) to play his best game, too. I understand his makeup, and I think he’ll find a way.”

The Rangers and their coach remained consistent Thursday as they prepared for tonight’s Game 6 in Newark. Their collective history — Lundqvist’s brilliance, Richards’ clutch chops, two Game 7 victories so far this postseason — and a penchant for thriving in adverse situations have strengthened them in the face of a 3-2 series deficit.

“I think we just know that we have to approach this game the same way we’ve been approaching each game,” Lundqvist said. “We can’t put more pressure on ourselves. We always want to win and we always want to play a desperate game, but we don’t want to go out there and try to do too much or be too excited. We need to find a good balance emotionally and just go out and play as good as we can.”

The Rangers accomplished that at Ottawa. They had lost Game 5 at home, then surrendered the opening goal on the road in Game 6 before rallying to win that night and take Game 7 at home.

They won another Game 7 against Washington in the next round, but their Ottawa ordeal had more in common with these conference finals. In fact, players pointed to that first series as their guide.

“We’ve been in this situation in the Ottawa series, and we can draw off that, off that experience, and our feelings going into the game,” Callahan said. “We have to stay even-keeled about it. We have to go into an opposing building, win one game, and try and get it back to the Garden.”

The Rangers have won Games 6 and 7 to win a series just one other time — in 1994, of course, when they beat the Devils en route to winning the Stanley Cup.

“Not to disrespect what happened, but that has nothing to do with how we’re preparing,” Tortorella said.

The only player still in uniform on either team from that classic series agreed.

“It’s different teams and a different way of playing the game,” Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said. “That’s 18 years ago. That’s a long time. I know I’m feeling a lot different. I’m feeling a lot more appreciative of what’s going on.”

The Rangers said their play in the final two periods of Game 5 changed their minds about the series, too. Despite losing 5-3, they enjoyed their best stretch of sustained play that didn’t include Lundqvist standing on his head.

“We’re confident,” Richards said. “We finally got our legs back and played our game. We were a little behind at the start of the series. Hank gave us a chance to be in the series. Now, it seems like we found parts of it in Game 4, and last night overall it was more the way we want to play.”

“I think we found our game last night, and I think that was mostly a mind-set,” Tortorella said. “We played more on our toes. We played to who we are. We have to do that tomorrow.”

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67 Comments

  1. Always had a saying- during the regular season play well to win- but in the playoffs sometimes its win to play well. It refers to the momentum and confidence boost a win can give you when you’re going bad. Not sure that applies here- so I’ll just lay the same message out I did before game 7 vs. Caps: Hope for a good game and that we’re not talking about some horriffic officiating tomorrow. I know…pie in the sky…that’s me.

  2. Ria(the silent bonehead) on

    Thanks Manny I had to step away for a while so as to put an end to the nightmare i’ve been enduring for the pass 3 days . So the dynamic duo are the men in stripes tonight? Should I even bother to watch or just listen to Dave & Kenny?

  3. @PaulinaGretzky: @mrkevinconnolly: Vote for #isles #JT91 to be the #NHL13Cover boy. He’s got my vote, one true Canadian. VOTE HERE

    Ugh! She lost major points there! Gretzky needs to sit her down and have another “chat”

  4. e3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my friends on

    JR – “the constant dilection has never meant more than it could”

  5. e3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my friends on

    ria – on last thread i gave you my email addy…feel free to get ahold of me and i will humorize (sic) you till you feel better

  6. Ria(the silent bonehead) on

    Thanks e3! I got blisters on my fingers!!!!!!!!! Not from playing the guitar either.

  7. e3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my friends on

    JR – “any analysis regarding tonight’s game is enveloped in its abstract reasonableness”

  8. Per Djoos (Stay thirsty, my friends) on

    Who cares – let Tavares be the “cover boy” for NhL 13. Maybe it’ll help keep up interest in the fishsticks to move to Kansas city or Quebec.. Would love to see them in Quebec…

    The Quebec Fishtiques!!! Haaaaaaa!!!

  9. Per Djoos (Stay thirsty, my friends) on

    Or…

    Going to Kansas city,

    Kansas city, here I come!

    They got some crazy little ladies,

    And I’m a gonna get me one!

    Le Quebec Fishtiques!

  10. I have advise for everyone: Drink Heavily!
    You should listen to me. I am pre-med.

  11. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    JR – “any analysis regarding tonight’s game is enveloped in its abstract reasonableness”
    …………..

    Dude, e3, you’re like a Kanye level of american lyricist genius (South Park ref). Seriously, some of your work is astounding, awesome.

  12. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    JR – “an early indication of what happens in game 6 is engulfed by any big save Hank makes”

  13. I’d prefer them to go to the most boring place possible. Can’t be in Canada though. Has to be a place that doesn’t give a crap aboot hockey!

    I’ve never been to KC, but the name alone sounds boring.

  14. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    True Blue – thank you for your kind words. Truth be told JR deserves all the credit

  15. Good evening, Carp!

    jpg, yeah the schedule came out yesterday – super psyched about Salt N Pepa!!!!!!!!

  16. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    JR – “the rangers must investigatory before the start of tonight’s game determinates the entire series”

  17. “One third of his body weight is…gravitas”

    “He lives vicariously…through himself…”

    “He is…the most interesting man in the world”

  18. Per Djoos (Stay thirsty, my friends) on

    It is true – Tavares is wasted on that clown organization. He would be a nice Ranger or Maple Leaf, IMO. The Fishtiques are stocking up on draft picks, and I hate to say, it only a matter of time before they emerge like Pittsburgh or now LA…

    If they were moving to KC, it would be hilarious is the Garden played “Kansas City” song during a Ranger-Fishtiques game..

    But, I think they’re gonna move to Crooklyn, which will make me hate them infinitely more. At least on Long Island they offer an easy ticket to an NHL game… In Crooklyn they think they’ll have “swagger” and coolness, and all the “kool kids” will be wearing Fishtiques gear. Barf!

  19. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    My Brutha – Cuba imports their cigars from him

  20. Per Djoos (Stay thirsty, my friends) on

    “it’s only a matter of time before they emerge like Pittsburgh or LA”…

    … The NHL has great reward for incompetence — high draft picks.

    Ask Pittsburgh.

  21. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    JR – “by scoring the first goal, the rangers would be picturesque”

  22. Per Djoos (Stay thirsty, my friends) on

    Torts is the Most Interesting Man in the World.

    If they offered a Tortorella jersey, that’s the one I’d get. I love Torts as a coach — I was thrilled beyond belief when they hired him. I recall not long ago, many bloggers referring to him as “Twats” and “italian dictator” — he has do e nothing but light a fire under the ny rangers, changed the philosophy of the organization, and given us a Rangers team we are all do proud of as win or lose tonight. And, he gave us hope for the future of this team beyond tonight.

    Torts, the Most interesting Man in the World.

    Stay Thirsty, My Friends

  23. Brodeur’s luck runs out tonight. He has given up eight truly putrid goals this
    post-season.. Even Osgood wasn’t that bad when the Wings won a few years
    back. Law of averages has to catch up with him in a telling way, and pronto.

  24. I read an interview with Messier a few years ago where he stated that he never “guaranteed” a game six win. He said “we will win” which was more a statement of intent and confidence than anything more. He went on to say he was surprised the next day to see his statement characterized as “The Guarantee”. He certainly made the most of the mis-characterization and his legend has been forever enhanced.

    Tonight is a major opportunity for someone to be a hero. I pray that it will be a Ranger and it won’t have to be Lundquist.

  25. This year has been an absolute adventure, and because we are Rangers fans, we have been trained to expect failure. For years, we have seen a few seasons with some bright spots, but ultimately, failure. We have see teams thrown together and have seen some chemistry, but gave us no reason for much hope or anything to feel proud of. I guess you could say we always have waited for that other foot to drop. This year, this team, it is completely different. I am not going to lie and say that I haven’t had my doubts this year, but every single time we have had that BIG game, or HAD to win, we have. I have faith like I have never had in this team and this group of guys. From starting in Europe, to the what felt like forever road trip to start the season because of renovations, to the Winter Classic, to 2 games 7’s. We have our lumps, we are tired, but this group is one of the hardest working TEAMS that I have ever seen. 94 was an amazing team, amazing group, with the best captain ever in all of sports, but they were not as hard working as this team. This team reminds me a bit of the 80 Olympic team, and Torts to an extent reminds me a lot of Brooks. This team is not talented enough to rely on talent to win games. We rely on hard work, relentlessness, sticktoittiveness, and a giant set of balls. We are going to put our hard hats on tonight and bring this back to the Garden for a game 7. I sit here and can see it in my mind as clear as day. We are going to give it our absolute all tonight, and we are going to win. Hang in there tonight everyone, we are all in this together. If you that have given up on this team out of anger and fear, but truly deep down believe we are still in this. It is easy to say we are done so in case we lose it looks like you were right and really didn’t think we stood a chance. It is a lot harder to truly believe and fall hard in defeat and take it like you are skating with the team and just took 1000 punches to the stomach. Well my head is up, my chin is out, and I am ready for war tonight. Let’s Go Rangers! Play the right way! Get it screwed on straight! Believe, and WIN!!

  26. @EmpireStateBldg: ESB will be shining in @thenyrangers red & blue tonight as they take on the Devils. Good luck! #NYR #believe

  27. Boo-Ka-Boom on

    Fellow fans…im confident we will all be chatting come Sunday for a game 7 , that said, if they happen to lose tonight we must all be proud of what they accomplished this year! Final score rangers 3 devils 1 ….im off To the bar to root with some other hardcore fans!

  28. Not only are we going to win, I am going to punch someone in the face. Take that to the papers chumps.

  29. Jesus Kreider can 8:00pm take any longer???? I’m dying for this game to start!!

  30. Just had a Tim Leary-like flash: This game is gonna be a blissful, you-gotta-be-kidding-me display of heart and soul by the NYR. They take charge early and do not relent.

    Final score (you heard it here first): 4-1

    So there will be a seventh game Sunday night. Tune in, turn on, do NOT drop out!

  31. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    JR – “what I will be looking for early in game 6 is the trend”

  32. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    JR – “it could be fortuitous by the time the puck drops”

  33. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    JR – “the decisions each team makes could change within a moments notice. This revolves around examples as an ex-player”

  34. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    JR – “as a former player that played the game and then retired, I have to admit it seems eloquacious at this point”

  35. Just found the hot spot in the woods. Love you guys and gals. Will check back ay eleven. Go Tony. Go Miami. And go Rangers.

  36. Good luck to all the ledge jumpers tonight! For those who have not stopped believing, Lets Go Rangers!!! Boneheads united!

  37. Very nervous guys, Id like a quick start, get Henrik an early lead, let him work his magic.

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