Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 4/23/12

It's the slogan the New York Rangers have used throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It's on the t-shirts, it's on Twitter, it's plastered on the walls of Madison Square Garden and it's printed on the rally towels. 

"Believe"

One word with such a vast meaning. One word that contains an unlimited amount of power. But one word that defines the 2011-12 New York Rangers. 

We've said it time and time again, the Rangers defied all odds with what they were able to accomplish this year. They clinched a playoff spot in March, they won the Atlantic Division and they finished as the top seed in the Eastern Conference. A team that was predicted to once again just barely slip into the postseason picture happened to soar to the top and take the entire National Hockey League by surprise. None of that was possible without some sort of "belief". 

And we're not only talking about the belief among the players within the locker room, but the belief shared between the team and the fan base. It was the 18,200 True Blue that filled the seats of Madison Square Garden each and every night that made the Rangers one of the better teams on home ice. It was the True Blue that made the trip from New York to Philadelphia to stand outside in the coldest month of Winter that helped power the Rangers to come back from a 0-2 deficit to win the Winter Classic. It was the True Blue that supported the club through the tough times late in the year that motivated the Rangers to yield off the then-dominant Pittsburgh Penguins to preserve the top seed in the East. 

Now, down 3-2 to the Ottawa Senators, facing elimination tonight at Scotiabank Place, the Rangers need their True Blue followers more than ever. 

It's disappointing to see the number of 'fans' that have already given up. I understand that there's a reality to everything, and let's be honest, this blog is about as real as it will get in terms of team coverage on the Internet. I don't sugarcoat; I was the first to call out the team for their piss-poor effort in Game 5. However, that doesn't mean I have lost my faith in the team that's been such a pleasureful aspect of my life this year. They've rarely let me down this season, so I'll match that effort as a true fan. 

Yes, the Rangers are struggling to score, they haven't generated much of a forecheck and their overall effort has been subpar. When else was this a problem? Let's go back to the beginning of the season when the club posted a 3-3-3 record in the first few weeks of the schedule. Things were looking pretty dull for the Blueshirts at the time, and I distinctly remember fans already throwing in the towel and giving up on the team with just nine games played. I wonder what those ‘fans’ had to say for themselves after New York's Conference-clinching win over the Flyers seven months later. 

If a Rangers team that had yet to know each other well or begin to develop any sort of chemistry was able to overcome the adversity in October, the now tightly knit, confidence-overflowing squad can certainly do so here in the playoffs in April. For goodness sake, they are the top seeded team in a 1 versus 8 match-up and were the favorites to win this thing going in. And to take it a step further, the Rangers were even picked by some to win the Stanley Cup when all was said and done. There's a reason the Rangers earned such respect this season and trust me, they haven't lost any of it just because they are down a game in this series with the Senators. 

Henrik Lundqvist is still the best goaltender in the world, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards are still two of the deadliest offensive players in the NHL, and the Rangers are still a very difficult team to defeat. Admittedly, the Senators have repeatedly stated that their past two wins have been very difficult to obtain. Again, nothing has changed just because the Rangers are down in this series, and the fact that there is major room for improvement is a good sign.

Therefore, there is no reason for any true fan of this hockey club to be giving up headed into tonight's Game 6. This is a passionate group of hockey players we are fans of and they certainly haven't given up yet, so neither should we. 

There are still two games to be played in the series, and we, as fans, should be behind the team for every last second of both of them. 

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I will leave you, for now, with this:

 

Believe.

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