Grumpy Rangers gear up for steep Stanley Cup climb
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Rangers have had their backs to the wall before during this year's Stanley Cup playoffs but have never faced a climb as steep as the one facing them in the championship series versus the Los Angeles Kings.
"We're down 3-0 (in the series). We're all lacking sleep. This is tough," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told reporters at Tuesday's somber practice. "I didn't expect my players today to be cheery and upbeat."
New York trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in the Eastern Conference semi-finals before rallying around grieving right-winger Martin St. Louis, whose mother died during the series, to win three elimination games in a row to advance.
Now the Blueshirts, who lost 3-0 at home on Monday following two overtime losses in Los Angeles, need to win four straight, starting with Wednesday's home game at Madison Square Garden, in order to hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time in 20 years.
"Right now it's about one game," said Vigneault. "That's as simple and logical and realistic as I can put it.
"If we want to continue to play, we have to win."
The Rangers face a Stanley Cup Final challenge so severe that only the Toronto Maple Leafs of 72 years ago managed to escape with four successive wins over the Detroit Red Wings after losing the first three.
"We're facing the same exact situation we were against Pittsburgh: we lose, we're done. If we don't want to be done, we’ve got to win," the coach said. Continued...