Rangers "Dreaming A Little Bit", But Grounded In Reality, Too
Anton Stralman is one of many Rangers who have never played in the Stanley Cup Final, and on Tuesday after the team's morning skate at the Bell Centre he admitted that his mind has wandered some in the past 48 hours to what it'd be like to reach the final round of the playoffs and play for the Cup.
"We're so close now, if even for a minute or two I've dreamed a little bit about it," said Stralman, whose club is one win away from reaching the finals, leading the Montreal Canadiens three games to one heading into Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final this evening.
However these brief moments of looking ahead are exactly that: brief. Stralman and his teammates are focused on the task at hand, which is trying to finish off what should be a very desperate Canadiens squad this evening in an extremely hostile environment at the Bell Centre.
"We have to snap back into reality because we are not there yet. We still have to win one more game to be in the Final," Stralman explained. "We want to do it tonight. We really want to come out and play a strong game tonight. You can not look too far ahead. We saw how easily we won Game Five in Pittsburgh (in the second round). We don't want to do what Pittsburgh did. It's not something we want to give (Montreal)."
Added Rick Nash, "Us against Pittsburgh, LA against San Jose, there have been comebacks throughout these playoffs. We want to treat this as an elimination game for ourselves. We need to play desperate."
Of course just a couple of weeks ago the Rangers themselves rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to oust the Penguins in seven games; and many of the current Canadiens were a part of the Montreal team that recently rallied from 3-1 down against the Capitals.
From the moment the Rangers won Game Four in overtime on Martin St. Louis' goal Sunday, the Rangers to a man have spoken about approaching this game the right way and not letting the Canadiens off of the hook.
"We have a big task here tonight on the road," defenseman Ryan McDonagh stated. "I don't think anyone's feeling pretty comfortable. This is a very good team, and the last two games could have gone either way. One more bounce here or there the series could be tied. We're going to need everybody's best tonight."
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault laid out a very intense message following the morning skate today, too.
"We're the first team this year that has an opportunity to win one and move on to the Stanley Cup Final," Vigneault stated. "We're going to be ready."