Back in 1994, the New York Rangers found themselves were in a very similar position to where they are today. Down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils, Mark Messier guaranteed that the Rangers would win Game 6. Sure enough, they did and that New York team ended up winning the Stanley Cup.
So, 18 years later, will these Rangers step up and make a such a statement?
“We haven’t really thought about it,” Brad Richards said.
Oh. Well, why not?
“No disrespect to history, but we’re worried about ourselves,” Richards said. “We want to create our own story and that’s what we’re here to do.”
If there’s one thing the Rangers and Devils can agree on, it’s that the 1994 series doesn’t have a bearing on this one.
“I don’t even think about ’94,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. “In ’94 I still had hair. It was that long ago. That plays no part in what we’re doing.”
Rangers coach John Tortorella added that the 1994 series “has nothing to do with how we’re preparing.”
In fact, the series was so long ago that the only player on either team that was around for it is Martin Brodeur. At the time, Brodeur just had 51 regular season games under his belt.
“Nobody knew my name back then,” Brodeur said.
So yeah, times have changed and it appears that no one is stepping up to repeat Messier’s guarantee. We’ll have to wait and see if the outcome is different too.
Talk about getting thrown into the fire.
Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.
Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.
Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.
We’ll start to find out tonight.
Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.
— Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.
— Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.
— Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.
— Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.
— Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.
— Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.
Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.
“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly.
So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.
That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”
The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.
“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”
That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.
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