Rangers have been here before, nearly two weeks ago, two games down in a playoff series and hot on their heels heading home to Madison Square Garden. This team has made their trademark comeback during the regular season, so why not in the playoffs?
It would save everyone some stress if Rangers did things differently, but here they are again ahead of a Sunday matinee they must win in Game 3 of their second-round series against the Hurricanes. The tone emanating from coach Gerard Gallant and his team has conveyed a more positive mood than after their loss to the Penguins in Game 4 of Round 1, in which Rangers were pounded up and down the ice while falling behind 3 -1 in this series.
“There were two good games in a row, we went 2-0, but I thought we played good hockey,” Gallant said Saturday after Friday night’s 2-0 loss at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. “So we have to go back and get ready to play a big game tomorrow.”
Gallant didn’t strike the tone of someone willing to make sweeping changes. He pointed out, not for the first time, that Rangers were ahead in the opener of the series and that Friday’s game was mostly even. That doesn’t change the results, and a goal in more than six hockey periods doesn’t cut it.
But Rangers can send the series tied back to Raleigh if they just serve at home.
“You’re in a hole, but it’s been two away games,” Gallant said. “We just have to make sure we take care of our home ice now. We have to make sure we win tomorrow. One game at a time and then we’ll take care of game 4, but they were holding court [at home]. It’s a long line. Like I said, we’ve been here, done this before.”
Rangers will carry that experience into Sunday. They won three direct do-or-die games against the Penguins. This is not a team that turns around and plays dead.
“I think we learned a lot [from the first round]’ said Kevin Rooney. “We are a resilient group. We’ve been resilient all year and nothing has really changed for us, we continue to play the same way. That’s why we had success in this series in Pittsburgh. So we have to hold on to what we have been doing all year and what has made us successful.”
The series might look different in the garden, not just because Gallant can dictate matchups if he chooses to. Rangers have made no secret of the difference viewers have made throughout the playoffs.
“Obviously they have the crowd in their building on their side,” Rooney said. “I thought we did a great job both nights coming out and getting pucks out of their zone early and getting the crowd out. And now hopefully we can use the crowd at home to our advantage. Our audience was our number one star in those playoffs.”
Of course, it would do Rangers well if one of their underperforming forwards could be that “number one star” after the next two games. However, the belief that they will find a way is one of the foundations of this team.
As Gallant pointed out, Rangers have been second in the NHL this season with 27 comeback wins. They are also the first team in playoff history to win three straight elimination games by comeback, coming back from a 3-1 deficit a series three times since 2014.
Given that, being down 0-2 doesn’t seem that scary. And another comeback would be in that team’s DNA.
“We have a lot of faith in this space,” Rooney said. “We have a great group. And our leadership group has done a great job, especially this postseason. So yes, we have a lot of confidence in this group.”
https://nypost.com/2022/05/22/rangers-strike-confident-tone-heading-into-key-game-3-vs-hurricanes/ The Rangers strike a confident note as they head into the deciding Game 3 against the Hurricanes