The Maven Stan Fischler will be providing his legendary unique perspective on the Stanley Cup Final between the Blueshirts and Kings with daily posts, right here on MSG.com.
Hope is a better companion than fear. -- Poet Martin Farquhar Tupper
Looking ahead, the Rangers and their legion of supporters have reason to break into a grateful grin, Cup Final notwithstanding.
Forget the sting of that double-overtime defeat Friday night. Poof! Just like that, it's all ancient history.
Then again, looking ahead, the Blueshirt Nation can take solace in the recent past because of what it suggests for the future...
Okay so they didn’t win The Cup.
But in bowing out on Friday night, 3-2, in double sudden death overtime to the champion Kings in Los Angeles, the Rangers won something equally important—the admiration of their fans, coaches, management, the rest of the league, and even casual sports fans in the city of New York.
Sure everyone wanted the Blueshirts to take the mug, but we knew from the get-go that the odds were against it. Yet in one of the most exciting, well-played games imaginable, the New Yorkers were a goal post away from bringing the series back to The Big Apple.
As the Rangers prepare for what could be a fatal Game 5 in Los Angeles, there are those in the crowd who believe that the Blueshirts are fortunate to be on the West Coast and alive.
The 2-1 victory on Wednesday night at the Garden — the critics argue — was as much a product of Henrik Lundqvist’s snow pile as it was a credit to his goaltending. But even the most fanatic of Rangers followers understand that the combination of slush in the crease, Lundqvist’s clutch goaltending and Lady Luck can go only so far.
Now for the second win.
With Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final set for Staples Center on Friday night — the 13th, in case you worry about things like that — the revived Rangers look to make it two in a row, en route to a possible third and fourth W.
Don’t tell me it’s impossible because: 1) Anything is possible in hockey and, 2) The Maple Leafs did just that in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final. You can look it up; they lost the first three to Detroit and then — bang, bang, bang, bang — they won Lord Stanley’s mug.
Can it happen again?
Yes, there is something left in the Rangers' tank -- and it's not just the return of Dan Carcillo.
With Game 4 on tap tonight and the threat of a four-game sweep staring them in the face, the Blueshirts are not yet doomed against the Kings.
Not by a long shot or a snapshot. And, yes, there are reasons for hope. Consider the following:
LUCK: Let's face it, Lady Luck plays a major part in any playoff game. Had Jeff Carter's goal with a second left in the first period might have been an afterthought had it gone in a second after the buzzer. Rangers are due for some good bounces.
CARCILLO: IN 1942, fourth-stringer Don Metz galvanized the Toronto Maple Leafs to four straight wins after being down by three to Detroit. Perhaps Carcillo can be the latter-day Metz, igniting the Rangers' machine.
Nothing is impossible. The way the Marines put it, “The difficult we do immediately; the impossible takes a little longer.”
The Rangers' version of that Marines hymn will have to start Wednesday night at The Garden. Down three games to zip after the Monday night 3-0 defeat, the Blueshirts can only look to one team for inspiration.
To this day, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs remain the only club to lose the first three games of a Final round and then sweep the next four for victory.
Now that the Rangers have returned to Madison Square Garden and eagerly await their first home game of the Stanley Cup Final, one must find words to describe what's ahead tonight against the invading Kings.
Not a single Blueshirt wanted to come home two games down in the best-of-seven series. Perhaps the best word to describe the dressing room feeling is frustration.
"We played close to nine periods (six regulation and two-and-a-half OT sessions) and, for the most part, I liked a lot of things about our game," said head coach Alain Vigneault. "Our guys are trying real hard and we've had opportunities in both games."
That they did and it explains why one other term comes to mind -- elusive...
Home is where the heart is, and for the Rangers, hopefully, their first victory in the Stanley Cup Final.
With Game Three coming up at The Garden on Monday night, one wonders whether these teams can settle a playoff contest in regulation time.
On Saturday night Los Angeles annexed a most controversial 5-4 triumph on Dustin Brown's goal at 10:26 of the second sudden death.
Talk may be cheap, but when it comes to the arrival of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final in Los Angeles, the chatter actually is priceless.
The following are some verbal gems, not to be confused with filibusters. You get the voices of the chief protagonists. After that, The Maven comments.
And, as an added attraction, you'll hear from my Associate in Hockey Knowledge, Jake Becker, direct from New City, New York, which, actually, isn't that new anymore. (It is 216 years old, if you really want to know. And if you don't believe me, ask Sam Rosen.)
A bad clear here, and an unexpectedly fallen Ranger there, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final wasn’t as bad as Humpty Dumpty’s fall-off-the-wall because Old Dumpty couldn’t be put together again.
The Rangers can.
And as they prepare for Game 2 Saturday night at Staples Center against the Big, Bad Kings, the issue is methodology. Translated: Do the Blueshirts prevail?
The Maven believes that fixing the flaws is easier than building a pre-teen Lego set, but the Rangers must pay close attention to my re-building instructions to win ...
FIVE REASONS FOR THE RANGERS TO TAKE HEART:
1. Henrik Lundqvist is in mint condition.
2. Given even average support in the overtime, he would have won the game for New York.
3. Ryan McDonagh can play a 60-minute-plus game and hardly break a sweat.
4. A 2-2 game that was decided on a freakish play is not likely to happen again to Dan Girardi.
5. The Law of Averages says that Rick Nash will bust out in Game 2.
FIVE REASONS WHY THE KINGS SHOULD WORRY:
1. Carl Hagelin's speed cannot be contained.
On Saturday, the Rangers and Kings resume the Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center, and anyone who thinks he or she can figure this series out has another thing coming ... at least if the opener offers any barometer of the action.
As even-steven as any match can be, it wasn't decided until Justin Williams exploited a Dan Girardi error in sudden death to give the Kings the 3-2 OT victory.
The loss couldn't be more heartbreaking for the Rangers, particularly since they seemed to have the winner on their sticks late in the third period.
After the visitors had successfully killed a penalty at the start of the overtime, coach Alain Vigneault's skaters seemed to have restored equilibrium. But, then it happened.
Let's start at the end; the Rangers will beat Los Angeles in six games; maybe even five.
It's easy to figure. The Blueshirts have the better goaltender, superior defense right down to the sixth man (Raphael Diaz) and a better balanced attack.
New York also boasts the hitherto un-unused Secret Weapon (Rick Nash) and the factor you cannot quantify, freshness thanks to an early vanquish of Montreal.
Motivation. Hey, it's 20 years between Cups for The Big Apple and the troops can feel it. Kings won their mug in 2012; incentive may be a degree less; you never know.