Win a game with a lead in a series? Check.
Win a Game 2 in any series? Done.
Did Nash start scoring again? Yup.
How about that power play? Enflammé.
Life is good in Rangerland right now. No more worries about Lundqvist’s history in Montreal after stunning performances in Games 1 & 2. No more comparisons to 1979 coming from the Montreal media and fans. McDonagh’s six points in the first two playoff games of the Eastern Conference Finals are the most by any Ranger since Brian Leetch in 1995. The current 5 game playoff winning streak is also the longest in the 20 years.
Given how the Rangers typically perform in the playoffs forcing fans to put their cardiologists and gastroenterologists on speed dial with seven game series after seven game series, it’s a bit of a shock as the Rangers suddenly appear as world beaters. Given the amount of teeth pulling the team has had to go through to reach this point and now just 6 wins from a championship, can they bring it home?
The one thing that is definite about this group; it isn’t the 2012 squad that flamed out spectacularly when they reached this point 24 months ago. A team that had no answers for the fore-checking prowess of Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier. Recollecting my notes from Game 3, I wrote that it felt like “the Rangers were teetering on the edge of elimination” despite Game 3’s shutout victory in NJ where the Rangers were dominated by the Devils, but were bailed out by Lundqvist and woke up just in time for a pair of early third period goals by Girardi and Kreider to hold on. We all know that Game 3 would be the last game the Rangers would prevail in…
But that isn’t this group.
Even in the dominating fashion in which Montreal began Game 2 on Monday was hardly a surprise given how badly the Rangers blew the doors off the Canadiens in Game 1. The Rangers showed tremendous character by quickly tying that game after Pacioretty’s fortunate deflection to take a 1-0 lead when the entire game could have easily cascaded against the Rangers after that point. I’m not sure some Ranger teams of yesteryear would’ve been able to accomplish what these Rangers did in that hostile environment in front of 21,000 voracious Hab fans.
The Rangers current 5 game streak can be attributed to any number of things, certainly the return of Chris Kreider helped to stabilize the lines on the ice and the passing of Martin St. Louis’ mother rallied an entire franchise around the future Hall of Famer and brought together 22 men as 1 entity off of it. Lundqvist has been un-conscious for the Rangers between the pipes. If you were to look up scoring depth in a dictionary, you would get the 2013-14 Rangers team photo. The ingredients are all there. Tonight, the Rangers will look to send one of the most storied franchises in all of sport to the brink of elimination. The Western Conference series looks like it could be a long one. Now it’s up to the Rangers to shake off history yet again and do what seemed impossible not so long ago; earn the right to play for the Stanley Cup.