Rangers Face Elimination – I Still Believe
Who would have thought it would come down to this? The Eastern Conference's number one seed, a team that looked so dominant for so much of the season, on the road and needing a win to keep their season alive. A tough task to be sure, but if there is a team who can do it: it's this one. @JoeBianchino
For the last seven months I have sung the praises of this Ranger team as one whose chemistry and will carries it as much as its young and rather underrated talent. It's a hokey idea, sure - one that seems out of place without Sean Astin and the Notre Dame football team - but also one that I've seen typified in every game, every win, every shift, every forecheck.
This team isn't the Pittsburgh Penguins. It doesn't have stars like Crosby and Malkin and Staal. And yet, theirs was the the team in second, while the Rangers sat atop the East. But something has failed the Blueshirts in the last two. And now they stand on the ropes, on the road, on the brink of elimination, and looking for a spark.
But rest assured Ranger fans, all is not lost.
Perhaps the forthcoming return of Carl Hagelin will be that spark. It's hard to believe that the East's number one seed could rely so heavily on a rookie forward, but such was seen during the three games in which Hagelin served his absurd suspension. It may very well be his speed, energy, and imagination that make his line go. Finally freed from Brendan Shanahan's funhouse prison of random punishments, perhaps the speedster can ignite an offense that managed only three goals in the last three games.
Or perhaps the team will be spurred on by the goaltending of Henrik Lunqvist. The ever so suave Swede has looked great in the series - bested only by Senator goalie Craig Anderson, who has played well over his head in stymieing the Ranger offense. So often this season, Lundqvist has been the catalyst for this Ranger squad. Perhaps now - when his team needs him the most - the King can put them on his shoulders.
And yet, whilst I'm spurred on by Hagelin's return and the play of Lundqvist, it's something far less calculable that has me believing. Something far less scientific, and far more ridiculous. Put simply, it's that chemistry and will I talked about earlier.
"They’re imperfect and they don’t possess an overwhelming amount of skill. But they’re tough, they’re physical, and they’re without an ounce of quit." I wrote that just after the Winter Classic, and it still rings true to me today. Callahan. Dubinsky. Boyle. Prust. They all epitomize that personality, the depth of character that had this team winning games they had no business winning, rising to the top of their conference with talent that may color them third or fourth best.
Absurd a thought as it is - and I couldn't blame you for calling me a fool - that toughness, that physicality, that refusal to quit has helped them get this far, and won't allow them to roll over on the road in game six. I believe that they'll fight. That they'll claw. That they'll find a way. Because that's what this team does. And because an early exit just isn't worthy of them. And quite frankly, I'm not ready for it to be baseball season yet. So keep believing Ranger fans. Keep your head high. And if you need some help with that, I offer you this bit of motivation - harkening you back to a day when another Ranger team went on the road to win a game six.
Keep believing. Go Rangers.