Powe knows it's possible for Rangers to pull miracle
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers forward Darroll Powe doesn't have to say anything, not at this stage, not with his team in an 0-3 hole in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. But if any of his teammates want to ask him a question about trying to dig out of this ditch against the Boston Bruins, Powe would have one heck of an inspirational story to tell.
Three years ago, Powe and teammate Arron Asham were in this same position against this same team and goalie (Tuukka Rask) in this same round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as members of the Philadelphia Flyers. They were part of history.
Powe and Asham played in all seven games of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, when the Flyers came back from a 3-0 deficit to become the third team to win a seven-game series after losing the first three games. The Rangers will try to become the fourth to pull off the feat, starting with Game 4 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS).
"When you're going to climb a mountain, you're not going to sit at the bottom and just look at the top and be like, 'How am I going to do this?'" Powe said Wednesday. "You're going to look at the 5 to 6 feet above you and go at that first. You can't just go at it and look ahead, you have to focus on what's right in front of you or else you'll never get to where you have to go."
The Rangers don't think they need a Sherpa to show them the way to the top of this mountain; they believe they're good enough to beat the Bruins, at least in Game 4. That's all they believe right now.
"Obviously it is a tall task, but you can't look at it as a big picture," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "You take it day-by-day here. You try and get yourself better, feeling as close as you can to 100 percent going into the game, and you've got to use the home crowd again [Thursday], try to thrive off that, try to compete for 60 minutes. They're not giving up and we haven't given up."
Powe, who has missed the past seven games with an undisclosed injury, said that singular focus helped the Flyers three years ago. They thought about winning shifts first then hoping that leads to winning periods.
History on Boston's side
The New York Rangers are in a 3-0 playoff-series deficit for the 11th time in their history. They have forced a Game 5 four times, and in 1939 became the first team in Stanley Cup Playoff history to force a Game 7 after falling into a 3-0 hole. Coincidentally, they did that against the Boston Bruins.
Here is the Rangers' history when falling behind 3-0 in a seven-game series:
2008 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Lost in 5
2006 vs. New Jersey Devils: Lost in 4
1995 vs. Philadelphia Flyers: Lost in 4
1989 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Lost in 4
1986 vs. Montreal Canadiens: Lost in 5
1981 vs. New York Islanders: Lost in 4
1980 vs. Philadelphia Flyers: Lost in 5
1969 vs. Montreal Canadiens: Lost in 4
1967 vs. Montreal Canadiens: Lost in 4
1939 vs. Boston Bruins: Lost in 7
The Boston Bruins lead a seven-game series 3-0 for the 19th time in their history. They have completed the sweep 13 times but are one of three teams in NHL history to blow the lead and lose Game 7.
Here is the Bruins' history when leading 3-0 in a seven-game series:
2011 vs. Philadelphia Flyers: Won in 4
2010 vs. Philadelphia Flyers: Lost in 7
2009 vs. Montreal Canadiens: Won in 4
1992 vs. Montreal Canadiens: Won in 4
1990 vs. Washington Capitals: Won in 4
1990 vs. Montreal Canadiens: Won in 5
1979 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Won in 4
1978 vs. Chicago Blackhawks: Won in 4
1977 vs. Philadelphia Flyers: Won in 4
1977 vs. Los Angeles Kings: Won in 6
1974 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs: Won in 4
1972 vs. St. Louis Blues: Won in 4
1970 vs. St. Louis Blues: Won in 4
1970 vs. Chicago Blackhawks: Won in 4
1969 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs: Won in 4
1943 vs. Montreal Canadiens: Won in 5
1941 vs. Detroit Red Wings: Won in 4
1939 vs. New York Rangers: Won in 7
When they did both in Game 4 to earn a 5-4 overtime victory in Philadelphia, the Flyers started to believe they could do it again. That belief took on a life of its own after their 4-0 win in Game 5 in Boston.
"You win that one game and things start to change," Powe said. "After that, you worry about the next game and you realize as you keep going your confidence builds and grows and you see the other side kind of going the other way. We can't do it without a big next game."
Powe said he thinks the Rangers can pull it off, too, because he sees similarities between his current team and the 2010 Flyers.
"Yeah, in terms of personnel and how the potential is on this team," Powe said. "It's a good group of guys, a close group of guys, guys that are willing to work hard and do the little things to win hockey games."
He said the Flyers' comeback three years ago helped to build their character. Powe said he thinks the Rangers have that character now.
"So I know we're going to come out hard [in Game 4], put our best effort out there and do the right things that are going to help us win that hockey game," he said.
Rangers coach John Tortorella said he believes that too. He just hopes that belief means he'll be coaching a more desperate team than he was in Game 3, when the Rangers rarely controlled the play and relied far too heavily on goalie Henrik Lundqvist to bail them out.
He could only do so much before Johnny Boychuk scored the game-tying goal 3:10 into the third period. Daniel Paille scored the winner with 3:31 remaining.
"There are levels of effort," Tortorella said. "For us to try to crawl back in this and win a game, we need to be more desperate in those areas. I think our team is working hard, but we're down 0-3 so we've got to figure out a way to get to another level."
He said he thinks they can get there if they are more consistent with their game, specifically on the forecheck, which has abandoned the Rangers for long stretches in this series largely because the Bruins simply have been better with their forecheck.
"We've played good minutes, but certainly not enough good ones consistently enough to beat a team like this," Tortorella said. "It's hard to make the playoffs. It's hard to win the first round. We've done that. You go to the next round, you're playing better teams and more balanced teams. So your level of play has got to rise. I think it has for a few minutes, but certainly not enough during a game."
Three years ago, the Flyers found a way to play enough minutes so they could take the first few steps up the mountain with an overtime win in Game 4 against the Bruins. They kept climbing all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
Now it's the Rangers' chance to follow in the Flyers' footsteps.
"We're going to fight them to the bitter end, and hopefully we can win four straight here," forward Mats Zuccarello said. "We believe in everyone in here. We've got confidence in each other. It's a good group of guys. If there's anybody who can do this, it's us."