This was in 1983 within the quick aftermath of the Islanders’ sweep of Edmonton that produced the Dynasty’s fourth straight Cup. Later you’d hear Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe and their teammates discuss how they realized concerning the sacrifice it will take to win a championship once they bought a glimpse of their opponents specified by ice luggage of their locker room after doing the victory lap.
These Rangers are neither the 1983 Islanders nor Oilers. But these Lightning, already greater than midway to the Dynasty’s world-record 19 consecutive playoff sequence victories, are a reasonably good function mannequin for any group with championship intentions.
They beat you, however they will additionally educate you.
It would assist the Rangers to acknowledge that on the fly earlier than Thursday’s Game 5 following Tampa Bay’s consecutive Games 3 and 4 victories at dwelling that squared the convention finals at two-apiece. The sky didn’t precisely fall in on the Blueshirts however the extra this sequence has developed, the extra it appears as if Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Ryan McDonagh and Andrei Vasilevskiy have rediscovered their A-games and that the Lightning have discovered their rhythm.
This should not be interpreted as an insult by the Blueshirts, who’re going by means of this for the primary time. Experience may be utilized inside a sequence. It doesn’t have to attend till the subsequent season or the on after that. The Rangers should not solely recognize Tampa Bay’s ceaseless work ethic, they should acceptable it.
Urgency is one phrase. Discipline is one other.
“They haven’t made any mistakes. We haven’t had many scoring chances, like we’ve talked about, but they haven’t opened up the game,” head coach Gerard Gallant stated earlier than the membership chartered dwelling Wednesday morning. “They haven’t had a complete lot of scoring probabilities, both, however they haven’t made errors.
“I think that’s from experience as a winning team.”
Look, there is no such thing as a doubt that getting Mika Zibanejad away from a devoted checking line matchup should unshackle the Swede the way in which it has not less than for the reason that begin of the second spherical. When Zibanejad goes, the Rangers are inclined to comply with in his dynamic wake. They’re a unique trying group, one which will get some confidence off their open-ice, east-west creativity.
Matchups have performed a maybe outsized function within the Blueshirts’ break up by which they’re 8-1 on the Garden, having received eight straight following the Round 1, Game 1 triple-overtime defeat to the Penguins, and solely 2-7 on the highway. Teams have received that means. The 2003 Devils, who have been 12-1 on the Meadowlands and 4-8 on the highway, come to thoughts.
But the burden/alternative will likely be there for Zibanejad to go power-on-power, perhaps in opposition to the Ondrej Palat-Stamkos-Kucherov unit, and set up a tempo. At the identical time, although, the Rangers can not turn into seduced as a result of they’re taking part in of their pleasant confines. That form of backfired in Game 7 of 2015, wouldn’t you — and Chris Kreider, McDonagh, Stamkos, Palat and Kucherov — agree? If limiting errors is an ingrained Lightning trait that the Rangers might borrow, so is the champs’ dedication to win each puck. Their elite abilities are capable of simplify issues. The Rangers are going to must be prepared to dumb it down and get the puck in behind the Tampa protection whereas establishing some kind of significant floor recreation.
This goes to be way more tough if both Ryan Strome or Filip Chytil is down for an prolonged interval, and doubly so if each are sidelined for the subsequent one. Chytil and linemates Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko have supplied an limitless provide of power as they get the puck in deep and get to work on a cycle. At dwelling, with the followers’ roars accompanying the hassle, the Rangers want that line’s ethos to roll into the subsequent and create a thunder of New York’s personal.
This group has traveled miles and miles. But the climb will get steeper with each step and with each recreation. It is more durable due to the opponents who’ve a collective hatred of dropping and should be knocked out to be able to be stopped. The Rangers have to seek out one other degree right here to be able to protect. They are going to have match Tampa Bay’s shift-by-shift physicality.
Andrew Copp acknowledged taking part in a group with “championship habits,” however maintained, as his teammates have all alongside, that the group is merely specializing in itself.
“I don’t think we’re looking at the other side to see how they overcome adversity or what kind of game they’re playing,” stated No. 18. “I think when we play our game, we’re really tough to beat.”
That’s true. But the Rangers must elevate their recreation. The group they’re dealing with has performed that over and again and again. No disgrace in borrowing from the very best.