The Rangers were loose and enjoying themselves---as evidenced by the fun shootout showdown and subsequent trash-talking between Brandon Prust and Martin Biron---during their 20-minute full-team practice at Madison Square Garden on Thursday afternoon. If there was an residual pain from losing 5-3 to the Devils in Game 5 the night before, it was not apparant, even though the players are well aware that---trailing New Jersey 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals---one more loss and their season is over.
"We have a belief in each other and a belief in our system," explained Ryan McDonagh after practice. "We can only focus on one game at a time here, and bringing that same intensity that we had throughout most of (Game 5). We just believe in each other, and believe we can accomplish it."
No Ranger who spoke to the media on Thursday wished to replicate Mark Messier's famous "guarantee" from 1994---when The Captain said the Rangers would win Game 6 in New Jersey and would bring it home for a seventh and deciding game of the Eastern Conference Finals.
When asked about making a guarantee, team captain Ryan Callahan laughed and said, "No, no. Nothing of that nature."
Head coach John Tortorella was a bit more serious when asked about the similarities between this situation and the one the Rangers faced in the 1994 conference finals.
"Not to disrespect what happened there, but it has nothing to do with how we are preparing," Tortorella stated flatly.
While Mike Rupp said what happened in '94 is an amazing memeory and moment in Rangers' history, this current crew of Blueshirts needed to create its own magic, and not look back 18 years for inspiration. And he looked around the dressing room and said it's impossible to know who the next hero would be.
"That's what's awesome about this time of the year, it doesn't matter where you are as far as the first line or fourth line, we're all pulling the same way and someone is going to come through and be a hero for some team," explained Rupp, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in the Devils most recent championship season of 2003. "In '94 that was a great moment in this city for this franchise, and there are those moments all the time every year for particular franchises. It's a chance now for all of us to be that guy."
During his session with the media Thursday, Tortorella emphasized that he believed Henrik Lundqvist---who allowed four goals for the first time in these playoffs in Game 5---"will play his best game tomorrow night". He made a similar statement about Brad Richards. And also stated that he felt "we found our game last night."
The Rangers are 3-0 in playoff elimination games, so far, this spring.