Trailing two games to none in their best of seven Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers are clearly down, but in no way out. Make no mistake about it, the Blueshirts have put themselves in a must win situation tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden, though. To think they have a chance at going to the conference finals if they lose Game Three is foolishly optimistic. The Rangers would have to beat the Penguins (who would be on a seven-game postseason winning streak) four straight times, and that’s just not going to happen.
But it is quite reasonable to expect a better outcome for fans of the Blueshirts. After all, it’s not like the Penguins outplayed them in either game. In Game One, both teams showed signs of inactivity and the defense was nowhere to be seen. Had it not been for a couple of good bounces going Pittsburgh’s way and yet another questionable officiating ruling in Sidney Crosby’s favor, the final score could have been different. There’s nothing that can be done about such things. Bounces and bad calls tend to even out over the course of a long series.
In Game Two, the Rangers had every opportunity to win as the Penguins gave them six power-plays, but they could not convert. Trailing 1-0 in the third, the refs got in the way again when the whistle blew just before the puck crossed the line to tie it up. It wasn’t a bad call, just a bad break, and it’s time things started to even out.
To come out on top, the Blueshirts must stay out of the box; Pittsburgh’s power-play is too good to keep them off the score board totally. And at all costs, they must defend Crosby with the stick down or else expect more penalties to be called. It’s not like it hasn’t been going on all year.
It’s time to lay everything out on the line. If they get a good start tomorrow night, the packed arena will be rocking. If not, and they lose their third straight, the season will end in bitter disappointment again.