Rangers at their best when pushed to the brink

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Here’s my column from The Journal News and Lohud.com today:

By Rick Carpiniello

GREENBURGH – There is no way to truly understand why the Rangers are so good in these situations.

Well, there is the common thread of the goalie stopping pretty much everything when everything is on the line.

But the Rangers, over the last three playoff seasons, have found a way to embrace the situation of “no tomorrow.” For all their faults and failures and flaws, the Rangers have a habit of surviving.

So they head into Game 7 in Pittsburgh Tuesday night, having been down 3-1 in the series and twice beaten back elimination. They play a 12th elimination game in three springtimes (9-2 so far) and a fifth Game 7 in their last seven series (4-0 so far). They have won seven of eight Game 7s since 1992.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault (3-1 in Game 7s) said it was about preparation. He compared it to being in school and, if you studied, you felt ready to take the test, not as nervous.

But there’s more to it. There’s a challenge that must be accepted.

“I think it’s a combination of a couple things,” said Henrik Lundqvist, now 9-2, 1.35, .955 in his last 11 elimination games, and on an NHL record-tying four-game Game 7 winning streak. “You need to enjoy that moment. It is a pressure situation, but at the same time if you look at it as a great opportunity, just a fun game to play, I think you relax a little bit. You go out and play.

“Confidence, too. You can’t just point out one thing. As a group, you need to go out there and feel good about yourself. There’s no second-guessing. You go out and play your absolute best, then you see if it’s enough or not. You can’t play that game and analyze it as you play. Just go out and do what you’ve tried to do all year and try not to overthink it.”

There’s a lot to think about in Game 7. Will the Penguins regain their focus — they were clearly rattled and distracted by the Rangers in Game 6, as they have been in many series since their ’09 Cup. And can Marc-Andre Fleury be trusted to go save-for-save with Lundqvist, if needed?

Center Brad Richards, 6-0 lifetime in Game 7s, said the Rangers’ confidence begins there.

“Probably starts in goaltending,” he said. “Then if you win a few over the years — we’ve won some Game 7s over the years, Ottawa Game 6 elimination; Washington last year, we had to come back and win two games — it builds confidence in the group going through those situations. It gets contagious. You realize that you can do it and you can play under those circumstances.”

Again, though, it’s about accepting the challenge.

“I love it,” Richards said. “When I retire, it’s going to be pretty cool — this is, I think, my seventh. If you’re in Game 7s, you’ve got a chance to win series. … Since I’ve been in New York it’s been, ‘Why can’t they win a series early?’ Well, that’s great. You’d love to do that. It’s a tough league.

“But if you’re playing Game 7s, that means you have chances to win series, and really, it’s hard. We’re one of the only teams to have a chance to go to the conference final two out of three years if we win (Game 7). That’s experiences and situations and moments in our careers that we’ll never forget. Why not play with (the attitude that) nothing’s better, nothing’s more exciting than going to these games?”

The Rangers have come to expect that they will give it their best shot, without expecting an outcome either way. They deal with it.

“We’re excited for the challenge,” defenseman Marc Staal said. “We’re ready to go.”

Twitter: @RangersReport

Series at a glance
Game 1: Rangers 3, Penguins 2, OT
Game 2: Penguins 3, Rangers 0
Game 3: Penguins 2, Rangers 0
Game 4: Penguins 4, Rangers 2
Game 5: Rangers 5, Penguins 1
Game 6: Rangers 3, Penguins 1
Game 7: At Pittsburgh, 7 p.m., Tuesday (NBCSPO)

Photo by Getty Images.

 

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138 Comments

  1. I would say there is more *pressure* on Pittsburgh now. Scoring the first goal would apply even more *pressure*.

  2. Lundqvist’s comments are insightful and will make a lot of sense to anyone who’s familiar with “inner game” theory (“inner game of tennis”, “inner game of skiing”). Don’t analyze, don’t overthink it, let your natural skill and passion come through. Don’t worry about the outcome – give your best performance and see what happens. Do that and the outcome will often be favorable!

  3. If the Rangers won and made it to the ECF for the 2nd time in 3 years, that would be pretty good.

    Too bad they’re going to lose, and we all have to deal with that tomorrow. Maybe they should *scratch* Richards to play it safe.

  4. 3 years since the passing of Boogaard. R.I.P

    Score early and get the crowd out of it. Time to shock the world

  5. Sometimes at work, I have a tough time deciding how to put together a spreadsheet. Then I let my inner game take over.

  6. what is this name generator thing? Can’t go back to find it among your bar stool beer chat etc….

    LGR!!!!

  7. Jimg – there is huge pressure on the pens. Let’s get the first one and the second one and their fans will get quiet or even ugly if we are shutting them down effectively. If they do score first we will really need the resilience and guts that got us this far.

  8. Manny-O-War a/k/a The Ol` Mucky Terrahawk on

    What is everyone’s favorite Single Malt?

  9. Manny-O-War a/k/a The Ol` Mucky Terrahawk on

    Nice piece, Carp. Thanks for the psych up.

  10. Manny-O-War a/k/a The Ol` Mucky Terrahawk on

    I think Lagavulin is my overall favorite but Talisker is VERY close.

  11. I just love how everyone here in Philly is routing hard for the Rangers tonight because of how much they hate Crosby.

  12. thanks wicky…holy hartnell, I love my name!!!!

    Fiendish Observational Comedian

    hahahahahahhaa

  13. Manny-O-War a/k/a The Ol` Mucky Terrahawk on

    You have to have had a single malt. It just means a malted whiskey (meaning it dried and sprouted) and then was produced by ONE single distillery.

  14. Eric, but will they be doubles???

    This whiskey chat is out of my league…ugh….

  15. Never really developed a taste for spirits. Gin and Tonic is my go-to if I’m not drinking beer or wine. I’ve had only had more conventional scotch: Chivas Regal 12, Johnnie Walker Red & Black, etc. They’re all blends, I believe.

  16. Sometimes you all drive me batty, and others, like today, just makes me love this place even more…..

  17. Manny-O-War a/k/a The Ol` Mucky Terrahawk on

    I really need to try *Highland Park* Anyone have any thoughts?

  18. Philly cousin has sent his vibes our way.

    Dad comes home tomorrow…let it be to the home of a happy ranger fan!!

  19. _Mac girardi staal all need 25 plus min tonight_

    Despite no reason to fear the 4th part of that quartile (atleast based on playoffs to date), I fear the 4th part of that quartile.

  20. Manny-O-War a/k/a The Ol` Mucky Terrahawk on

    Maybe we shoudl dress 7 D? Dress Carcillo? Bench Nash? HELP TELL ME WHAT WE SHOULD DO

  21. Dress 22 players and dare Pittsburgh to be little whiner crybaby tattletales.

  22. Nice article yet again, Carp.

    Speaking of old handles. I wanted to go by T Bone, but everyone called me Coco.

  23. Any single malt suggestions that aren’t too pricey if I wanted to try to delve?

  24. Bobby mention Balvenie. Had a bottle of the 14 i liked but pretty pricey. Costco in Milford CT for some reason had the OBAN priced at like $28.00 a few years ago when they first started selling booze (normally a 45.00). My friends bought out a ton of it and we are still circulating bottles around today.
    Dalmore and JURA also a few i have recently tried and liked. Keep the recommendations coming. I like booze

  25. “The only goal scorer that is still on the team is MZA, and he scored goal #5.”

    And I finally took a breath.

    229:1

  26. Manny-O-War a/k/a The Ol` Mucky Terrahawk on

    I really, really want a drink. Badly.

    62:4

  27. Lloyd Braun on

    Rangers will win tonight – write it down

    but expect these officials to try to bury them with penalties, having them shorthanded and likely 2 men down multiple times. in the end it won’t matter…Pittsburgh barely scraped by in the first round and looked terrible for much of that series. other than playing 2 decent games, they’ve been poor for most of this series. their time runs out tonight.

  28. Stranger Nation on

    _The only goal scorer that is still on the team is MZA, and he scored goal #5_

    hope Richie rocket gets a hattie tonite then…

  29. Lloyd Braun on

    Brassard has been a pretty awesome playoff performer

    don’t hold your breath waiting for Brad Richards to matter

  30. Nash 4. Crosby 5.
    GWG: Crosby
    Spear to Onions: Crosby
    Slewfoot: Malkin
    Headshot: Letang
    Times Pierre says Kristopher: 32

  31. Stranger Nation on

    See Dubb Step – rock and roll is here to stay, so don’t sing the blues with all that jazz.

  32. Thanks, Booby. I’ll put it on the list -that I am writing down nowhere and will have to ask you for again at a later date.-

  33. Ranger The Eff Up.

    It’s an old Army thing. I learned it from the Wickster.

  34. Tonight would be a good night for Murphy’s Law to kick in for Rangers stuggling to score. Would equate to about 10 goals.

  35. Manny-O-War a/k/a The Ol` Mucky Terrahawk on

    Over/Under on how many times Pierre says, “Sucking dirty pond water”?

  36. Manny-O-War a/k/a The Ol` Mucky Terrahawk on

    Oh cool. Wicky *loves* being in the Army.

    *MALLARDS FOR PEACE RTFU*

  37. Score first
    Score often
    Score more times than they do.

    Easy peasy.

    LGR !!!

  38. Doodie Machetto on

    Are we going over/under on “Kristopher/Christopher” or does it specifically have to be “Kristopher Letang?”

    Also, I’d like to throw in “Matty Niskanen.”

  39. “Despite no reason to fear the 4th part of that quartile (atleast based on playoffs to date), I fear the 4th part of that quartile.”

    *at least

  40. We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.

  41. My garbage can just fell over _I’m going to rename my garbage can Sidney Crosby hahahahahahahaforever!!!!!!!_

  42. Manny-O-War a/k/a The Ol` Mucky Terrahawk on

    “Matty Niskanen and Kristopher LeTang have been pinned inside the zone. They’re sucking dirty pond water out there, Doc. Boys need a change. I remember when Kristopher LeTang was a youngster practicing ice skating with the great Fred Ramphers up in Saskatoon, Ontario. He was some Coach. LeTang had great vision even back when he was 4.”

  43. Let’s put it this way. If we all did a shot every time he said Kristopher Letang we’d all be sideways by the tv timeout late in the first.

  44. Manny-O-War a/k/a The Ol` Mucky Terrahawk on

    I’m going to check out of work early. Screw you guys.

  45. Doodie Machetto on

    Man, add one extra T to kunitz and it’s like a 6th grader’s wet dream of a name.

  46. I want you to understand that this man at the wheel is my attorney. He’s not just some dingbat I found on the strip, man. He’s a foreigner. I think he’s probably Samoan. But that doesn’t matter, though, does it? Are you prejudiced?

  47. “Boss, I’m gonna need to take a day off in June. Not sure which day yet, depends when a clincher arises.”

  48. Doodie Machetto on

    You know Pierre is the kind of person that pronounces croissant “Kwassan”

  49. Doodie Machetto on

    I booked a trip to Maine in early June. Nothing is a better sign that the Rangers will win the Cup than that.

  50. so
    right now
    i’m not sure if i’m having a
    sinus headache
    stress headache
    or
    Game 7 headache
    or all three

    if the last answer is correct, then should be taking six extra strength pain relievers for each type or just 4 for good luck?

  51. Oh man I read about Maine Dinner recently and left behind a nice pile of drool.

  52. 100-Watt Warlock on

    Nobody tell Wicky but I have to go get a haircut on my way home from work before the game.

  53. Maine is a long way from the Pacific coast of Mexico, Booby. Think you can make the flight?

  54. Stranger Nation on

    has Ex3 heard from Broshard yet? usually his predictions are in early.

    Now I’m worried!

  55. Jeff in South Dakota on

    That’s OK Booby. We have open and, for $5 more, concealed carry out here. A well armed society is a polite society.

  56. Manny-O-War, King of Metal on

    We never should have traded Del Zotto. Now Liam is upset.

  57. Manny-O-War, King of Metal on

    I’m only going to blog in between razor slices made to my face due to hysteria

  58. iDoodie Machetto on

    I can picture Eric watching with his head peaking out of a blanket that he is holding over his head.

  59. iDoodie Machetto on

    I just got on the bus and I have to pee. This is going to be a looooong ride home.

  60. Norm Merton on

    Out to dinner with the wife and prodigal college daughter tonight — a good reminder that there are things more important than Game 7s.

    Only kidding, of course. That was in poor taste — nothing is more important, and I’ll be wishing all the Rangers and 99% of the Boneheads good luck tonight. I will see none of you on the ledge tomorrow, as it has been a great season. Literally.

    So if somebody take over for me, please. Instructions:
    Whine like a little girl at every twist of fate that goes Pittsburgh’s way.
    Lamely point out Nash’s other contributions after he hits the post again.
    Don’t make it all Richards’ fault until after the final whistle. (coos excepted, naturally.)
    Extol Dom Moore’s virtues.

    I look forward to my late night reading. Bon chance. LGR!

  61. Forget Nash. If Richie Teflon were half the player he is cracked up to be, we would have swept both series and had ourselves a nice rest waiting for the next victim.

  62. Matty"Rangers in 5!!!"Boy on

    I can’t imagine what it is like to be a player or related to/close to one. Have to admit, I am freaking NERVOUS!!!!

    LGR!!! LGR!!!! LGR!!!!

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