Posted May 25, 2012 on
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New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers
Los Angeles Kings
Tampa Bay Lightning
Whether the New York Rangers truly believed they could overcome a 3-2 playoff series deficit earlier this year doesn't matter now.
The Rangers did it against the pesky eighth-seeded Ottawa Senators in the first round, giving them confidence they can pull it off again against the formidable New Jersey Devils and reach the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 18 years.
The historical calendar is in line with the dates of New York's 3-2 comeback over the Devils the last time these division and area rivals met in the Eastern Conference finals in 1994. None of the names are the same for the Rangers, and only New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur - and assistant coach Larry Robinson - still have the same jobs as way back when.
So the top-seeded Rangers' point of reference as they head into Game 6 in New Jersey on Friday night isn't the history book but rather their shared experience of rallying past Ottawa.
If they extend their season, they will be back at home on Sunday for a winner-take-all game.
''You can draw off that experience, just the feelings going into the game,'' Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. ''Just stay even keeled about it. We've got to go into an opposing building and win one game and get it back to the Garden.
''They're going to be a desperate team, too, to close it out on their home ice. We need to find that next level, that extra desperation. Obviously, it's a huge game, but we don't need to say that.''
New York has embraced desperation much more than prosperity this postseason. The Rangers have won two in a row in a series only once and have never enjoyed a two-game lead in any of their three matchups. However, they are 3-0 when facing elimination - including Game 7 victories over Ottawa and Washington.
''We've been through these situations a lot this year, including in the playoffs,'' Rangers coach John Tortorella said Thursday after practice. ''I'm very comfortable as far as our mindset. Today was a good day for us. As we approach our game, I'm very comfortable in where we're going to go.''
That was not as easy to see Wednesday night in New York's 5-3 home loss to the Devils in Game 5. The Rangers fell behind 3-0 less than 10 minutes into the game, but managed to tie it in the opening minute of the third period.
However, a goal with less than five minutes remaining by Devils fourth-line forward Ryan Carter finished the Rangers for good. The loss was New York's first in these playoffs in which it scored at least three goals.
''It's a good group,'' Tortorella said. ''It's a group that stays with it. There's not a lot of panic there. They just go about their business, and we're a pretty good hockey team.''
They were the best in the East over the 82-game regular season, and they tied for the second-most points in the entire NHL. All that will be an afterthought if the Rangers fail to get to a finals matchup with the upstart Western-champion Los Angeles Kings.
If confidence can be conveyed in words, then the Rangers seem loaded with it as their season hangs in the balance.
Tortorella said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will rebound from a subpar performance in Game 5 and ''play his best game tomorrow night.'' He echoed that sentiment for top-line forward Brad Richards, who also struggled on Wednesday.
''It's tough when you go into a game like this. You want to win so bad, sometimes it's more pressure than you need,'' Lundqvist said. ''When you're out there, you try to focus on the things you always focus on. The challenge every time you play an important game is to find a good balance mentally, but I'm trying to approach it the same way.''
Tortorella is a master motivator, whether it be with words of encouragement or a dose of tough love that often results in benchings within games. No one is immune from that, as leading scorer Marian Gaborik found out in the Rangers' Game 2 loss.
The coach also has been less contentious with reporters recently, making postgame news conferences calmer even as the stakes have risen during the East finals.
Tortorella is no stranger to digging out of 3-2 holes. He coached the Tampa Bay Lightning to the championship in 2004, erasing such a deficit in the finals against the Calgary Flames.
''I don't have to motivate the team,'' Tortorella said. ''I think our team is motivated. I don't look at it as overcoming a 3-2 deficit. We need to win a hockey game. We're preparing to try to win one hockey game, and we'll see after that.
''We prepare as we always do. There's no magic. There are no special speakers coming in. There is none of that.''
Richards scored two goals in that Game 6 win for Tampa Bay, and Ruslan Fedotenko - now his teammate again with the Rangers - found the net twice in Game 7 to lock up the Cup for the Lightning.
That experience would seem to be invaluable, but maybe not.
''That was a really long time ago, and I had a concussion at that time so I can't remember really anything,'' Fedotenko said with a wry smile. ''I remember winning, but that is basically it.''
BEST OF MAXIM
Head coach John Tortorella actually stuck around to give an insightful postgame press conference following last night's 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils at MSG, so I thought I'd share this landmark event. Plus, there's not much else to say after what went down last night and what needs to be done in Game 6.
Will have any significant updates from practice later...
When it was over, a few moments after his team's season had come to an end, Rangers coach John Tortorella uttered six words that offered a glimpse into his psyche.
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John Tortorella is a man of few words, at least when he is in front of the microphones for a news conference. Put him on the bench with another coach to scream at and he's just a little more effusive. New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer found that out on Monday as the two bench bosses engaged in a shouting match after Rangers forward Mike Rupp gave an extra pop on New Jersey goalie...
New York Rangers coach John Tortorella just doesn't like to answer Stan Fischler. But, he does think his team 'played with balls.' 1:10 mark of his post game presser following last night's game 6...
Full story at Bob's Blitz ~ http://www.bobsblitz.com
John Tortorella talks about his Rangers team after the game..."I love our jam. I love our balls. I really like what we have here. I don’t think it will be the same. There’s always changes. But what they have—what our group has developed in their identity, their mindset, I think showed tonight."...this quote really has me fired up for next season. The...
Rangers coach John Tortorella isn't satisfied with the franchise's longest postseason run since 1997.
He says ''we still have quite a bit to learn as far as the desperation, when you get to this third round.''
New York's season ended Friday with a 3-2 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
It will take time...
John Tortorella discusses the Rangers' Game 5 loss and the team's back being to the wall heading back to Newark...
For players reaction to Game 5 defeat, click the "Read More" tab below.
Players know the Rangers are up against after the Blueshirts' 5-3 Game 5 loss...
Remember to follow me on Twitter & Facebook or e-mail me at ...
The past is the past is the past.
That was the message authored by the oddest of bedfellows, the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils, when questions linking the franchises' 1994 Eastern Conference Final to the current series were asked Thursday.
"Not for a second," said Rangers coach John Tortorella when he was asked about parallels between the two series during...
John Tortorella said he knows his team's focus is squarely on Game 5 Wednesday night at The Garden when he addressed reporters following practice on Tuesday...
...not sure if it was funny or scary that Torts' answer to a question on how he plans on fixing the Rangers offense was to "pray".For the players thoughts on tonight's Game 5, click the "Read...
from Katie Strang of ESPN New York, The closest thing to a guarantee from the Rangers heading into a do-or-die Game 6 against the Devils on Friday?
Coach John Tortorella’s prediction about his star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s impending performance:
“He’ll play his best game tomorrow night,” Tortorella proclaimed.
A later line of questioning prompted Tortorella to...
Here are your post-elimination interviews from the players and head coach John Tortorella following last night's 3-2 OT loss to the Devils in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Break-up day for the Rangers will be on Monday. Stay tuned for my season eulogy and a whole lot of individual...
Rangers coach John Tortorella is a brilliant hockey mind. You didn't think Brad Richards shooting on NYR goalie Henrik Lundqvist was just a boneheaded mistake do you? Increases the King's save...
Full story at Bob's Blitz ~ http://www.bobsblitz.com
The LA Kings defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 in Overtime last night to win the Clarence Campbell Bowl that is awarded to the Western Conference Champions. The Kings won the Western Conference Final in 5 games & never really faced a challenge from the Pacific Division Champion Coyotes.
In the conference semi-finals, the Kings swept the Central Division Champion...
Just a few things that caught my eye ...
John Tortorella must feel like he's stuck in his own personal Groundhog Day -- how many horrific first periods can one team have? Five shots, three goals? That praying thing didn't seem to work.
The Devils weren't as good as their start. And the Rangers (the team) weren't nearly as bad as theirs. But...
The forecheck has been the key to the Rangers offense all season, but for some reason they haven't been able to establish it during the playoffs.Dan Rosen at NHL.com says finally getting puck possession below the dots in the Devils end, will be a key to Game 5 for the Rangers..."The Rangers have not possessed the puck below the faceoff dots nearly enough in this series....