As exhilarating as Wednesday's 2-1 triple overtime victory in Game 3 was for the New York Rangers, it was only win number two of four. More importantly, it was only win number six of sixteen. Although it now shifts the momentum of the series their way, that win did not clinch the Rangers a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. It was both intense and memorable, but in the grand scheme of things, it made very little progress for New York as far as reaching their ultimate goal goes. There is still much hockey to be played and the Rangers must be prepared for that.
"I’m happy the team found a way, I’m happy the way they handled themselves. It doesn’t surprise me how they handled themselves. They’re gonna probably have to do it again in this series. It’s a win for us. I just don’t want us to get too carried away, because this is part of it. This is what you have to do. So I don’t think it’s anything special. It’s a good lesson for us early." - John Tortorella to the Daily News
"I don't think it's anything special."
Well isn't that a typical Torts line after a thrilling win like Wednesday night's? While I do think that there were some special aspects to what went down in Game 3, Tortorella is right in that the team cannot get carried away with the lasting emotion and elation from just one win. Whether that game was won in the third period or sixth period, the Rangers are still leading this close series by just one game.
But is Torts worried about a letdown by his club?
“Nope, nope. I trust the team. I think our team has handled the ups and downs all year long through the regular season, from some of the things we’ve gone through as a team. So there’s not gonna be any conversation on that at all. We’ll report tomorrow [Friday], practice and get ready for our next game.”
The Rangers have enough leadership in that locker room to prevent themselves from getting too high or too low on themselves at any point in any circumstance. Just look back to the quarterfinals after losing a critical Game 5 in front of the home crowd; the players (and coaches) were all optimistic immediately after the game and they ended up coming out and winning two straight to take the series as we already know.
In similar fashion but in opposite application, the Rangers cannot feel as if they are riding high after their Game 3 effort. The Capitals are playing them extremely tight (well duh, why else would it take six periods to decide one game?) and momentum swings have been a major factor in this series. If the Rangers take their foot off the gas pedal now, there's no doubt that the Capitals will rebound after a deflating loss - something the Blueshirts do not want to allow to happen.
Following that game, New York was buzzing with Rangers fever like I've never seen before. I even saw an online statistic stating that NBC Sports Network was the highest rated cable channel in the New York area from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. during the game on Wednesday. They made every back page and were a topic of discussion on every sports talk show. The hype around this team is at ridiculous levels right now.
Again, this could be an advantage for the Rangers or it could play against them, especially when they return toMadison Square Garden for Game 5 next week. They are the talk of the town, but they simply cannot allow that to get the best of them. I cannot stress enough how important it is for the Rangers to remain grounded here and continue to work ruthlessly for these next two wins, or next ten wins depending on how you look at it.
But, as always, we must believe.