Friday, April 22, 2011

Rangers Can Beat The Odds Again, Beat The Capitals

Being against the odds is nothing new for the 2010-11 New York Rangers, so why should their first round playoff series be any different.  Before the season the team wasn’t supposed to make the playoffs.  During their second half losing streak they were supposed to fold and admit their first half was nothing more than a fluke.  Going into the regular season finale against the Devils the odds were against them of even making the playoffs.  The Rangers have defied the odds multiple times this season and now they will have to do it again with three straight wins against Washington if they want to keep playing.
In each of the previous scenarios the team has responded by showing heart, determination, and character.  It is from that basis that until the Rangers season is officially over that this team cannot be counted out of anything.  There is no doubt the climb is uphill and steep against the more talented Capitals.  At the same time, the Rangers have had an opportunity to win three of the four games in this series and be the ones looking to clinch on Saturday instead of the team looking to stay alive. 
There are positives and negatives to the reality they could have easily won three of the first four games instead of lost them.  The fact they are in every game says they can compete at the same level as this team is a good thing.  On the negative side that they have been unable to close out two third period leads is certainly disheartening, but also goes against the way the team played all season long.  The power play being 1-for-18 in the series is something that has cost them at least one game in the series.  It could also be said that when you are that bad, sometimes you are just due to get one.
Any positive in the series can be turned into a negative and vice versa, but with the way the team has competed all season, until they are done, we have to look at the positive side and believe in their chances.  There is no doubt that come Game 5, with their back against the wall, the New York Rangers will come out fighting.  It is who they are.  It is what they do.  Saturday does not afford the Rangers the chance to win the series, but if they can get that win in Washington, then they force the Capitals back to the Garden where holding home ice means an anything can happen Game 7. 
That scenario might seem like a longshot after the heartbreak of Game 4, but remember that these same Capitals blew a 3-1 lead against the Montreal Canadiens last season and even came back from 3-1 down to beat us two seasons ago.  Playoff series are in large measure about momentum and with a win on Saturday the Rangers have the ability to swing momentum and let doubt creep into the minds of the Capitals.  This team has not quit all season and until they are officially out of the playoffs you will not find me quitting on them.  No team has enjoyed being the underdog more than this squad, so maybe they have the Capitals right where they want them.