The New York Rangers will try to take a commanding 3-0 series lead and push the Montreal Canadiens to the brink of elimination in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York. After erasing a 3-1 series deficit against the Penguins in the second round though, the Rangers know that things can change quickly in a best-of-seven series. They're not about to look ahead or become complacent thanks to that experience and the winning pedigree of their veteran leaders.
"Plays happen fast; emotional swings happen fast, penalties happen fast and different things do because everything is magnified," Rangers forward Brian Boyle pointed out. "So if you can kind of keep your heart rate at a steady level, I think it's beneficial.
"But people talk about the whole experience of the playoffs, winning it all or just getting to the finals and we have some people that have been through it. That's kept everybody on an even keel and trying to work for that next goal and that next win. That's what we need to continue to do."
After being shut out in Games 2 and 3 of that second-round series against Pittsburgh and then mustering just 15 shots in their 4-2 loss in Game 4, the Rangers used that leadership to do some soul-searching and haven't lost since.
"We got a group in here that no matter what, we're gonna play and we're gonna play hard," said Boyle, who has four points in the playoffs. "That's something that came when things changed after Game 4 in that last series. That feeling stuck with us for two days. Teams have had bad losses, I've had bad losses but there's nothing quite like that one. But the way we've rallied together through adversity, every guy in this room, it's got us to here. But we still got quite a bit of that mountain left to climb."
That's why they plan to be ready for a Montreal team that is in a similar state to what New York was following that demoralizing Game 4 loss to the Penguins.
"I'm sure they're going to be motivated and we need to match that," Boyle said. "There's mistakes we made and we need to correct those and be even better. We need to be ready and be ready for their best. This is the playoffs and you need four wins to win a series and that doesn't come easily."
James Murphy is a freelance reporter who also writes for NHL.com, the Boston Herald and XNsports.com. He covered the Boston Bruins/NHL for last 11 seasons writing for ESPNBoston.com, ESPN.com, NHL.com, NESN.com, the Boston Metro, Insidehockey.com and Le Hockey Magazine. Murphy also currently hosts the radio show "Murphy's Hockey Law" heard Saturdays 9-11 AM ET on Sirius/XM NHL Network Radio and 4-6 PM ET on Websportsmedia.com. In addition to that, he is a regular guest TSN 690 in Montreal and Sirius/XM NHL Network Radio as well as a hockey analyst on CTV Montreal.