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(VIDEO) New York face powerful L.A. Kings, elimination in Game 4
The New York Rangers are on the brink, pushed there by the oh-so-powerful Los Angeles Kings, who took a 3-0 stranglehold on the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.
Now, in need of four straight wins to capture their first Stanley Cup in 20 years, the Rangers will need to find optimism from somewhere.
And that optimism could be found in the ever-cliched phrase, one game at a time.
"For us right now, it's about one game," said New York head coach Alain Vigneault on Tuesday. "That's as simply and logical and realistic as I can put it for you. We gotta focus on one game, and that's what we're gonna do."
When the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012, they took a 3-0 series lead in four straight rounds, first against Vigneault's Vancouver Canucks, then in a sweep over the St. Louis Blues, then in a five-game Western Conference Final win over the Phoenix Coyotes, and finally over New York's neighbour New Jersey.
The Devils won two games to push L.A. to six games, before the Kings whupped Jersey 6-1 in Game 6.
Only one team has even won the Stanley Cup after trailing 3-0 in the series – the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, who came back to beat the Detroit Red Wings. (Of the three teams that have overcome that deficit since 1942, once of them was the L.A. Kings, just about a month ago.)
So the odds are stacked against New York, and they're aware of that.
"Your back's against the wall," said Rangers forward Martin St. Louis. "I think guys have been in that position, obviously being down 3-1 to Pitt and having to win three in a row.
"I know this is a different stage... but we've been battle-tested in the past and you hope that experience in the last few rounds will help us get a win, and then go from there."
St. Louis's teammate Brad Richards expressed the same sentiment, although with a slightly more depressing tone. Richards and St. Louis both won a Stanley Cup together with Tampa Bay in 2004, on a team coached by John Tortorella.
"Today's a tough day," said Richards on Tuesday. "Your mind's racing on a thousand different things of what you can do differentla dnw aht coudl have been. But like I said, you get home tongiht, get a good dinner, and get a sleep and you wake up and get right back into a game day.
"It's still an unbelievable situation to be in, a Stanley Cup Final. We've gotta remember that. There's a lot of players that would love to be here."
It's not easy being a sportswriter. Really, it's not.
Because sometimes things are obvious. Sometimes they're not. And sometimes – most of the time – it's pretty darn hard to tell when a situation is one or the other.
So we force ourselves to create storyline when they might not exist, and then we're so tired from all that reporting on nothing that we miss the chance to tell an angle you at home haven't thought of. Not all the time, but sometimes those things happen.
It was obvious to everyone just how good the Los Angeles Kings were, before this Cup Final. It was tempting, then, to try to be bold and predict the Rangers could win or even put up a fight.
And sure, New York sort of did that with two overtime losses in Games 1 and 2, in two games they blew two-goal leads in. And sure, the Kings hadn't actually taken a lead in this Final until last night, when Jeff Carter opened the game's scoring with a goal scored 19:59:02 into the first period.
But for anyone who's watched L.A. at all either this season or over the last two, you know the Rangers were never really that close. They never should have been.
The L.A. Kings are the best team in the NHL. Chicago is close, but they lost.
All New York can do, it seems, is delay the inevitable.
But hey, I could be wrong. Like I said, this isn't as easy as it looks.