By Matt Loughlin
The New York Rangers will try to end a six-game home playoff losing streak tonight and will try to even their opening round series with the Montreal Canadians at two games apiece. But don’t talk to Rangers coach Alain Vigneault about the streak which dates to their 2015 series against Tampa Bay. He’s more worried about getting his team back on track after a dismal performance at Madison Square Garden on Sunday in which the Rangers were out hustled and outplayed in a 3-1 defeat and left wondering why.
Vigneault has been coy about how he’ll go about changing the Rangers fortunes. He’s given some insight but no confirmation as to any lineup changes he might make but he has laid out the mental approach his team must take. Call it the “Green Jacket Effect”.
Yes, after failing to win in 74 previous starts in major championships, Sergio Garcia slayed his demons with a win at The Masters a little over a week ago. If Vigneault’s team doesn’t heed the lesson then they could soon be joining Garcia on the golf course.
If you’re looking for a bargain then these Stanley Cup playoffs have been for you. 24 games have been played so far and 11 of them have gone to overtime. Fans pay for three periods but there’s nothing more exciting than extra time when one play, one mistake is the difference between heartbreak and joy.
“Free Hockey” was provided in all four games played last night with two, in particular, standing out.
The upstart Toronto Maple Leafs, led by teenagers Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews, rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Washington Capitals, 4-3. But it was a “gray beard” who scored the game winning goal as 31-year-old Tyler Bozak sent Air Canada Centre (and maybe all of Toronto) into ecstasy.
Meanwhile, we found out that Chicago can score but they still can’t beat Nashville.
After being shut out by Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne in the first two games of the series, the Blackhawks were finally able to beat the lanky Finn but still lost, 3-2. Chicago took a 2-0 lead after two periods but the Predators scored the final three to put Chicago on the brink of elimination.
Chicago, Calgary, Minnesota, and Columbus all trail their series three games to none. But all is not lost. Well, mostly it is, but there is the slightest hope for those four teams.
Four times in NHL history (Toronto in 1942, the New York Islanders in 1975, Philadelphia in 2010 and Los Angeles in 2014) teams have come back to win their series after losing the first three games. The problem is that 178 teams who have built 3-0 series leads have gone on to win their series.
I’ll do the math. Only 2.2% of teams who have faced such dire circumstances have overcome them. But then there’s this:
So I guess you never know.