NEW YORK — After losing 3-0 on Monday night in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Rangers now face a monumental task in rallying from a three games to none series deficit.
And monumental might be understating it.
Only one team in Stanley Cup Final history has come back to win after dropping the first three games — the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, who did it against Detroit in the first-ever final to go seven games.
Three teams have since rallied from 0-3 in playoff history (1975 Islanders, 2010 Flyers, 2014 Kings) but nobody’s turned the trick in the Final since the Leafs did it 72 years ago.
And hey, we’re just about the full comeback here. It could be argued the Rangers will have a remarkably tough time getting past Game 4… depending on how much stock you put in history.
According to WhoWins.com, 26 Stanley Cup Finals began with one team getting out to a 3-0 series lead. In 20 of those, the team leading completed the sweep — most recently, the Detroit Red Wings did it against the Washington Capitals in 1998. That, of course, marked the end of a bizarre chapter in NHL history in which four consecutive Finals were sweeps:
1995: New Jersey 4, Detroit 0
1996: Colorado 4, Florida 0
1997: Detroit 4, Philadelphia 0
1998: Detroit 4, Washington 0
To their credit, the Rangers are saying the right things in how they plan to avoid a sweep — all it takes is one win, just approach it 60 minutes at a time. Cliches, sure, but what else are they going to say?
“We just have to keep working ourselves and work hard and the bounces will come our way,” Dan Girardi said after Game 3. “It all just comes down to we have to win one game and we’ll go from there.”
If nothing else, the Rangers could look at their bitter rivals from New Jersey for inspiration. Two years ago, the Devils also fell behind 0-3 in the Cup Final to the Kings in similar fashion — dropping the first two games in OT before getting shut out in Game 3 — but managed to rally and force a Game 6.
Getting at least that far is what the Rangers want to accomplish.
“It’s not over,” Henrik Lundqvist explained. “We are looking at getting the next game, that’s all we think about right now is that win. In a game like this every little play matters and it feels like they had the luck so far in these three games where it feels like the game has been pretty even, but they have been finding ways to get the big goals at the right times.
“I guess and it’s something we just have to accept and try to be a little better next game.”
As for the Kings, they seem to remember the New Jersey series all too well, explaining how difficult the fourth game of a Stanley Cup Final while saying they’re ready for the Rangers’ biggest effort on Wednesday.
“We have a lot of confidence right now, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Drew Doughty said. “We’ve got a lot of work left to do. It’s not even close to being over.
“This is going to be the toughest part of the series, closing it out.”