NEW YORK -- Trailing the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final after dropping Games 1 and 2 in overtime, the New York Rangers are understandably excited to bring the best-of-7 series back to Madison Square Garden. They're expecting a boisterous home crowd for Game 3 on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), which should be even more raucous considering the Garden will be hosting its first Cup Final game in 20 years.
MSG last played host to the Cup Final in 1994, when the Rangers hoisted hockey's grandest prize for the first time in 54 years with a Game 7 victory against the Vancouver Canucks. The shadow of that historic 1994 team looms large over this edition of the Rangers.
"None of us were around here 20 years ago, but if you look around here we're all well aware of the history and how important it is to this franchise," defenseman John Moore said. "There hasn't been much talk in the room. [It's] more when you're outside of this room and you run into people on the streets. A lot of talk that way."
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their last championship, the Rangers have had a number of members from that 1994 team at games throughout the playoffs, including Mike Richter, Stephane Matteau and Alex Kovalev. Now back in the Cup Final for the first time since that championship season, the Rangers are expecting a major lift from their fans, hundreds of whom turned out for a Game 1 viewing party in Bryant Park this past Wednesday.
"We saw the support when we were out in L.A., especially in Bryant Park. It's great," forward Derick Brassard said. "The atmosphere is going to be really good. When you have the fans behind you, it gives you a lot more energy on the ice. I think we're going to try to feed off that."
As New York attempts to battle back in this series against the Kings, they'll be buoyed by the countless reminders of the last Rangers team to hoist the Cup, a team that is still beloved by New York sports fans 20 years later.
"It seems like every time you turn on the NHL Network or MSG [cable TV channel], they're playing the 1994 games," Moore said. "It's exciting. You see how cool that was and the environment here. It gives you chills watching that.
"You see how important it was to our fans. You see the videos, and it's cool. To replicate that would be amazing."