The must win that is Game Six

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

If you were to tell me, at the start of this series, that the Rangers were going to take two of three from the Canadiens in Montreal, I’d be happy. If you told me that they were coming home to a Game Six up 3-2 in the series, I’d be happy. This is why I’m not panicking over the ugly loss on Tuesday night. It was one ugly loss. They happen. Luckily in the playoffs, players have short memories and they move on.

Yet the mood among the fanbase is one of panic. The Rangers had a chance to close out the series in Montreal and could not do so. Their defense and goaltending –two critical parts of their identity– failed them. The offense put up a lot of goals, but the rest of the play wasn’t there. They are still leading in the series, coming home to a rocking Garden with a chance to close out the series.

There is no such thing as game-to-game momentum. Each game starts fresh. Each team made adjustments. Each team has an altered game plan. Game Five has no bearing on Game Six, aside from the suspension of John Moore. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is indeed a must-win game for the Rangers.

These playoffs we’ve seen a team come back from a 3-0 deficit and a team come back from a 3-1 deficit. Nothing is over until the Rangers win that fourth game. Game Six is the time that the Rangers need to end it. Going into Montreal for a Game Seven, to a Bell Centre that is a house of horrors for Henrik Lundqvist, after losing two straight to allow the Habs to tie the series would be lethal. Simply put: The Rangers cannot allow for that to happen.

Side note: It sure would be nice if the Rangers ended a series in less than seven games this decade too.

That killer instinct, the one that they’ve had so often in the Game Seven’s we’ve seen over the past three years, needs to return tonight. Alain Vigneault’s motto is “one game, one period, one shift at a time.” That motto appeared to disappear when the Rangers went up 2-0 and 3-1, as the Rangers got sloppier and sloppier as the series progressed.

The good news is that Hank always rebounds after getting yanked. The team as a whole always rebounds after a clunker. Game Six in Philly, Game Four against Pittsburgh, both followed up with dominating performances the next game. It’s a trend we’d like to see continue. After all, this series was a puck-off-the-face goal from being a sweep.

"The must win that is Game Six", 5 out of 5 based on 12 ratings.
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  1. Lundqvist in last 5 Non-Game 7s with chance to clinch a series: 0-5 , 5.53 GAA, .808 save%, pulled four times. Credit @TGfireandice

    1. Four of 5 were coming off a win. More relevant,
      Lundqvist is 1-1 in series where he had a 3-1 lead.

      Odd, Rangers lost last 3-1 they were ahead in and won last 3-1 they were behind in (all previous of both kinds had gone the right way).

  2. I think you’re absolutely right about the mentality of the fan base right now. I felt more confident going into Game 6 of the Pens series than I do going into this one. Not for any rational reasons, but…as you write, it’s difficult to close. But part of the unease (I wouldn’t call it panic) is related to how they played Tuesday night. When you know that you absolutely rely on Lundqvist to be a difference maker, when you know that defensive soundness and making it hard for teams to get through the neutral zone are your calling card, when you count on being the faster team game to game, it’s pretty worrisome to see those strengths completely vanish in Game 5 of the ECF. Yes, LA lost last night, but if I’m a Kings fan I feel much better going into Game 6, because my team gave the Hawks all they could get. Nevertheless, rationally, I realize that the pattern of these playoffs–and maybe hockey more generally–is that there isn’t necessarily any carryover. Almost assuredly, the Rangers will play better tonight. But playing better doesn’t guarantee winning. That’s why when you’re up 3-1 you have to take full advantage of every kick at the can.

    Ok, no more pessimism. I’ve been looking forward to this night for, oh, 20 years. I’m turning 40 next month, and I told my 9-year-old son that maybe there’s a pattern here–every 20 years of my life the Rangers win it! The stories I could tell about watching Game 7 of the Rangers-Devils series in ’94 while clearing out my college dorm room. For another time.

    I’ll say one more thing. Obviously, losing tonight will be devastating. But I’m making a pledge to myself here–I will, in no case, concede to the air of inevitability of a Rangers loss back at the Bell Centre in Game 7 if it gets that far. I will still believe.

  3. While they’ve proven they can win in Montreal, I seriously do not believe that they can win a game 7 in that building after that game 5. While its still entirely possible to win game 7 if they lose tonight, they HAVE to win tonight. I’m calling a 2-1 win in OT. This is gonna be a physical game.

  4. We all may have some pessimism inside, but the time is now to shine on the worlds biggest stage. Guys like Hank, MSL, Nash, Richards and McD know that this, so far, can be their shining moment. No one has to tell them, they know.

    It is time to look in the mirror and say, how bad do I want this? The fans do. Tonight we will learn about heart, desire and the goal each player has. Tonight we earn a trip to the Stanley Cup finals.

  5. The Rangers have to be all business tonight and not get caught up in Montreal’s attempt to throw them off their game. New York needs to be firm on their checks but keep their sticks down. They are a very good skating team and should not allow the Habs any time and space to get going. The Rangers are and will be the better hockey team tonight.

  6. Win or go to Montreal. Nothing comes easy for this team, but I sure hope that they can close it out tonight. I second Dave’s comment — it would be really nice to win a series in less than 7 games.

  7. If you recall the 94 series against the Devils, we were down 3-2, and Mess said we will win game 6. Someone on this team has to will a win, simple as that.

    Just before the game 6 of that series, Bernie Nichols said in no uncertain terms, that if we loose game six, we will loose the series. Man was he ever right on with his remark. Let’s not give these guys a chance at a game seven, just kick their collective butts tonight, and be done with it!!

  8. I still get goosebumps watching that game 6 video.

    If everyone does there job, we win. The Rangers are the better team, simple as that. If we have breakdowns, then anything can happen.

    The extra rest is critical. We all see how good the LA Kings are. Need to end this tonight!

    Lets Go Rangers!!!

  9. Agreed on the above posts – find the fire that burned Pittsburgh…and finish them, si’l vous plait.

  10. I agree with you on everything, Dave, but I’m still panicking. Everything points to a Ranger win tonight and a lost series if they fail. But one game from a precipice is too scary. And I fear that Lundqvist, who plays best with a sense of urgency, doesn’t see how critical this game is.

    1. I think the last thing he wants to do is take the trip back to Montreal.

      I trust that Richards, MSL and Lundy will set the tone for the rest of the room, who will go about their business tonight. I trust this group to end this tonight.

  11. Hank before anyone knows how critical this game is. I think AV should have the entire team sing the national anthem together… on the bench, belting it out with Johnny Amarante… It really means nothing but it could bring some much needed chemistry… Has that ever happened? The entire team singing the national anthem?

    1. Lol, the anthem is only national to 4 of the guys who will suit up tonight. I’m not sure it will help to set the tone on the bench.

  12. One unfortunate element to this Moore suspension (which was deserved) is that Klein has looked the best I can say I’ve seen him play in Ranger Blue over the past 3 games. I hope that continues tonight despite the loss of his defensive partner.

    1. I really thought he was gonna bury one the other night. He was playing aggressive and taking em to the net. Maybe tonight.

  13. The Rangers best chance to win the series is, obviously, to win tonite. That said, though they’d be underdogs, they can win a Game 7 in Montreal. Hank’s record in Game 7’s speaks for itself.

    1. Agreed, but it will be more than hard for them to pull off a victory in game 7, in Montreal, on a “Hockey Night in Canada” Saturday night. The odds, even with Hank’s record would not be in their favor; to put it mildly. No, tonight is the night. Hank has to make his statement tonight. Failing that, and if he comes up short, the team needs to bail him out. God knows hes done it for them more than enough times. Get an early lead, and then hang on for dear life. Memo to Mr. Nash: This is the night to make your mark!!!!(as in Messier). It’s all teed up for them; now hit it over the fence!!!!

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