Any one in the Rangers locker room want to guarantee victory in Games 6 and 7? Have I gone back in a time machine to 1994? How interesting it is that the 1994 rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals between New Jersey and New York Rangers is exactly where it was 18 years ago - 3-2 Devils going back to New Jersey.
Back in 1994 Mark Messier, captain of the Rangers and the NHL's model alpha captain, proclaimed that the Rangers would win Game 6 in New Jersey to force a Game 7. Messier scored a hat trick in that Game 6 victory believe it or not (for the younger readers) over Martin Brodeur.
Can the Rangers repeat history? Can they buck history by winning three straight seven game series? These are hard to answer questions. The Rangers are really good at limiting their opponents offensive chances and Lundqvist is normally solid to brilliant. However, the Devils have that look of a team of destiny. They believe. Their role players are producing. They are not backing down. Their back was against the wall versus Florida and they won two straight game to win the series. After losing Game 1 to the Flyers they took control and won the next four games. The Devils are going to be difficult to handle in Game 6.
So, I am going to do my best to put myself in to the shoes each team's coach. This is from an outside perspective; I have no insider knowledge. Here is what I might say if I was Peter DeBoer and John Tortorella.
If I am Peter DeBoer Coach of the Devils:
"Gentleman, we have a great opportunity today. We have trained all year long to get to this point. Let's go and take it from the first shift on. Go for it, we are in a winning position. Hold nothing back. Let's play Devils hockey. Let's get the early jump and use the crowd's energy. Let's put pressure on NY. We will control the flow of the game with our forecheck. Let's be aggressive and see if they can hold up. Pound their defense. This is Game 20 already for them in the playoffs. Punish their D and go for the jugular. Now is the time."
If I am John Tortorella Coach of the Rangers
"Guys, Game 5 was tough. We played awesome for most of the game, let's remember that. We just had a bad start and yet we still tied game. We were one double post from leading in the third. It easily could have gone the other way. But that is ancient history; it doesn't matter anymore. Our job is clear. We need to take care of business tonight. If you had told me at the start of the season we had to win two games to make the Finals I would have taken it. I like our situation, I like this team. I know we will play well. We have the best goaltender in the league. We have been down 3-2 before. Been there and done that. We will do it again. Now, let's focus on tonight one shift at a time. Nothing else matters. We will start fast and put the Devils on their heels. Let's go out there and get our forecheck going. Put the pressure on their defense. Throw lots of pucks at the net. Brodeur is human and can make mistakes. Gentleman, don't worry about anything but your next shift, let's just win a shift at a time. Tonight is going to be lots of fun, let's go out there and empty the bucket."