Eighteen years ago, the Rangers were on the brink. Dropping a 4-1 decision to the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden in Game 5 forced the Blueshirts to go into the Meadowlands and win a Game 6 on the road.
Fortunately for that team, Mark Messier was their messiah, who guaranteed victory and backed it up with the natural hat trick in the third period to give the Rangers a 4-2 win.
Now, almost two decades later, the Rangers find themselves in the same position. After losing 5-3 last night in a very wacky Game 5, New York finds themselves in the same position the immortals of ’94 found themselves in during their sojourn.
But this team does not have No. 11 leading the way. It’s not built from the center down, rather from the goal out. However if there is going to be a Game 7, someone needs to step up and the 2012 messiah who will lead the way through grim street of Newark and back to the Garden for a chance to win a championship.
This team doesn’t need a guarantee, rather a leader to step up and impose their will on New Jersey
“We just got to win a game,” said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. “We’ve been in this situation in the Ottawa series. Just win one road game and get on a roll out here.”
And it very well could be Callahan, who was like a man possessed in the second period last night. The Captain has been quiet on the scoring from, but his two-way play has not diminished. On Friday night, he needs to prove once again why he is this team’s captain.
Or it could be Brad Richards, the high priced free agent that comes to New York for situations like this. Broadway Brad has scored a number of big goals this postseason – including the 6.6 second tying tally in Game 5 of the second round, but that means nothing, unless he steps up on Friday.
Richards earned $12 million this season. Friday will prove his worth.
Or could it be the invisible Marion Gaborik, who scored last night on a fluke, but was banished to the third line by coach John Tortorella.
Or it could be the defense, with Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonough playing at the top of their games.
Whoever it is the Rangers need someone to step up. Just as they did last night after going into a 3-0 hole during the first 10 minutes.
“It’s a hard one to lose the way we lost tonight, crawling back into it, but we’ll go through our day tomorrow,” Tortorella said. “We’ll regroup. And, again, I have tremendous amount of confidence in how we’ll react to this.
Almost two decades ago, Messier was the Rangers messiah. They need one tomorrow. Who will it be?