By Jay Greenberg, special to CBC Sports
To Henrik Lundqvist, packing a suitcase for another trip to Boston is a lot less time-and-effort-consuming than packing it in, period.
"We worked too long and too hard to go out in four straight," the Rangers goalie said to the media on Friday, after having said it to his teammates before Thursday night's 4-3 overtime victory
"I guess in the back of your head you know there is no turning back, no option here. You have to leave everything out there.
"I don't try to change my mindset, the way I think during the game, but you know if you don't do well now it's over. As long as you can handle it the right way it might help your game. So far we have stepped up at a crucial time."
The Rangers are 6-1 in elimination games during the springs of 2012 and 2013.
Headed to Boston for Game 5 late Saturday afternoon is the good news. The bad news being that they already have had to win six elimination games just to get to one conference final and a semifinal.
Eleven of the last 15 Stanley Cup winners - the exceptions being last year's Los Angeles Kings, the 2010 Blackhawks, the 2008 Red Wings and the 2007 Ducks -- were at death's door for at least one game on their runs. But none of those 15 champions faced multiple elimination games in two different series in the same spring. And no team has ever won consecutive series they trailed 2-0, which is what the Rangers would have to do to survive the Bruins.
Get your backs against the wall enough time, eventually you wind up in a heap at its base. This is why comebacks, alas, prove as inadvisable as they are celebrated. It's a league rule, you are not allowed to quit. Why should you get extra points for that? Truth is, the vast majority of games and series are won by getting ahead and staying ahead.
"I don't think our team gives," said New York coach John Tortorella Friday. "It's something you try to hang your hat on, I guess."
Then the contrarian in him came from behind again.
"I'm not a big believer in it. I think every game is a different situation," he said. "Listen, we were ugly the first part of the game. We had to find ourselves after a fluky goal
[Boston was up 2-0 when goalie Tuukka Rask slipped before Carl Hagelin even shot the puck, starting the New York comeback]."
"We have not been able to stop surges and momentum swings by Boston which is why we are where we are. I think we played better but the bottom line is all is forgiven, and you don't go back and dissect. We won a game. What we have to look at now is just win the next game."
Coming from behind
The fun in coming from behind is really the same fun you have doing a lot of things that aren't very healthy for you. But the Rangers are on a clutch run because when they find themselves in another wilderness, they first see Lundqvist, who lights a path out.
"I don't know," said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, asked if he sees his goalie raising his play with the wolf at the door. "He plays so well all the time."
That's the definition of survival skills, more than any heroism we want to attach to them. It's hard to beat a goalie this good at whatever point of whatever series he is in.
"It seems like they were getting a lot of good bounces, then we got a couple [Thursday] and it turned the game for us," said Lundqvist. "You just have to keep working hard and stay positive and things might happen for you.
"There is pressure. It's the way you look at it. You try to look at everything so it benefits you and you try to have fun when you are out there. You know if you don't do well it's over and that can help you. If you can handle it the right away and use it as motivation, your focus is even better.
"But especially in the playoffs it's all about balancing your emotions, the pressure and expectations. If you find a good balance mentally, the physical and technical part will care of it itself."
Tortorella not only shook up his fourth line in Game 4 by scratching guys who have puck skills (or used to), such as Brad Richards
and Arron Asham for guys who have none (Kris Newbury and Micheal Haley). But the coach made two better moves by moving up the sparingly-used Chris Kreider to a first line with Derek Stepan and Rick Nash, Stepan scored a goal on a swipe from behind and wrap-around against the great Zdeno Chara, and Nash fed Kreider for the winner in overtime.
"I just didn't think we were developing enough offence," said Tortorella, asked why he moved Derick Brassard between Hagelin and Callahan.
So the next move belongs to Claude Julien, who has a top-four defenceman, Dennis Seidenberg, apparently ready to come back.
"They [Seidenberg and Wade Redden] are progressing every day," said Julien on Friday. "That's why you see them on the ice."
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