A week and a half ago, the Penguins sat exactly where the Rangers are right now. Up 3-1 and looking forward to playing in the next round.
A sag in performance is sometimes inevitable when you’re in that position. It’s human nature to just assume the clinching win will eventually come. However, when your opponent plays desperate you’ve set yourself up for failure. As the Rangers proved against Pittsburgh, stealing that Game 5 could be enough to change momentum and cause a cataclysmic meltdown.
Thankfully, the Blueshirts know exactly what’s going through the minds of the Canadiens. Tonight’s home team still believes they have a chance until that fourth victory is clinched. They know they’ll have the home town crowd behind them. And if they can somehow come away with a win tonight, they’ll hope some doubt will begin to creep into the minds of the Rangers, while conversely giving themselves a shot of confidence going into Game 6.
“The last step for them is the toughest one to make, and we’re going to make it hard on them,’’ Tomas Plekanec said to the New York Post. “We’re going to play a good game and use our crowd. We’ve got to take advantage of playing at home.’’
Brian Gionta added…
“We still believe in this group, so no one’s panicking. Part of being on a winning team is being able to regroup and deal with the circumstance that are ahead of you and not what has already happened. This is not something we can’t come back from. We feel like we’ve gotten better as this series has gone on.
“You have to build confidence as you go. You get a win and you know you’re one win closer, and then you get another and now you force a Game 7 and the pressure is back on them.’’
The Canadiens can also use past experience for motivation as they fought back from 3-1 deficits in 2010 against the Capitals and 2004 vs. the Bruins. However, those are the only two times in 16 chances they’re rebounded from a 3-1 hole.
On the other side, the Rangers will use what they learned against the Penguins not to get overconfident (via Daily News)…
Martin St. Louis…
“(The Penguin series) is an advantage for us. We understand what (the Canadiens) are feeling. It’s helping us not getting our foot off the gas. We can’t take anything lightly. We don’t want to give them room. We’ve done a really good job of staying even keel, and I think it’s helped us to keep moving forward.”
“They win one, they probably feel like it’s going to go seven.”
…while the drama of last week added some spice to the series, it’s nice to see the two sides talking hockey again.
…going through that Penguins experience is huge for the Rangers. It’ll force them to keep their focus on closing out this series instead of who they’d rather play in the Stanley Cup Finals.
…again, this is where having guys like Richards and St. Louis on the team is so beneficial. They won’t allow their teammates to day dream about playing for the Stanley Cup. They’ll have this club focused on the Candiens when the puck drops tonight.
…unlike the Penguins, I feel this Rangers team is mentally strong. Minus the brief lapse after the Prust hit on Stepan, the Rangers have risen above any adversity this entire postseason. It would have been real easy for this team to become frustrated by the one-sided officiating in Game 4. But led by their stoic head coach, they didn’t lose their cool and executed their game plan.