By Matt Calamia
The Rangers know the challenge facing them entering Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday against Los Angeles at Madison Square Garden.
They trail the Kings, 3-0, and face the task of having to win four straight to capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 20 years.
But the goal of a Cup has been put on the back-burner following Monday’s 3-0 loss in Game 3. The goal now — and for the remainder of the series — is to just win a game.
“It’s possible. We’ve seen it been done before,” said Marc Staal of overcoming a 3-0 hole. “You look at those teams that have done it — you get one game and you start feeling better about yourself. You get another one and it goes from there and it kind of snowballs. We can’t look at the big picture and obviously everyone said that going through it, but tomorrow we try and win one game.”
If the Rangers are looking for inspiration, they need not look any further than the team facing them across the ice. It was about six weeks ago that the Kings found themselves trailing the San Jose Sharks, 3-0, only for them to rally off four straight, including Game 7 on the road.
“I think both teams know it’s possible to turn this around,” Henrik Lundqvist told reporters after opting to skate in today’s practice rather than tomorrow morning’s morning skate. “[The Kings have] done it, and we know we can do it. It’s not like we’ve been outplayed here, that’s not been the case.”
“It starts with your belief,” Lundqvist continued, “and it starts with how you approach this game and the games after that. But they know it’s possible and we know it’s possible.”
It may sound cliche, but the Rangers have no other way of looking at things at this point. A win Wednesday and they grab some of the momentum headed back to Los Angeles. Despite the fact they lost both games in Hollywood, there is plenty of reason for them to be confident playing at the Staples Center, where they never trailed for a second in either Games 1 or 2.
“We know what could happen if we win a game, but you don’t want to look too far ahead,” said Dan Girardi. “It’s a big task we have ahead of us. It’s the typical ‘one game at time,’ and that’s what we have to live by. We just have to win one tomorrow night and go from there.”
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault put a positive spin on his team’s situation, saying that there are 28 teams watching the series from home who would gladly take his team’s spot right now.
“Whatever talk you might use, at the end of the day for us right now, it’s about one game,” Vigneault stated. “That’s as simple and logical and realistic as I can put it for you. We have to focus on one game and that’s what we’re going to do.”
While not as deep as it is right now, the Rangers are no strangers to have the odds against them during this playoff run. In the second-round, the Blueshirts trailed Pittsburgh, 3-1, and rallied back to win that series to advance to the Eastern Conference Final. That experience could prove beneficial this time around.
“I think we believe at that time that that wasn’t it for us and we aren’t going to lose the series that way,” Staal said. “We knew we had better. Our focus was playing one solid game, and I think the same goes for right now.”
The Rangers feel they’ve played well enough that they should be in a better position right now than they are, but that’s the situation they find themselves in.
“I can’t tell you honestly that we feel that we should be down 3-0,” said Brad Richards, “but it doesn’t really matter if I say that or not because we are. We’ve played a lot of good periods, a lot of good hockey. It’s the situation we’re dealt.
“We’re ground men and we’ve got to face it,” Richards added. “We’ll wake up tomorrow and go to work.”