The Rangers may not be facing elimination tonight in Game 6 against the Montreal Canadiens, but head coach Alain Vigneault fully expects his team to match the Habs' desperation come puck drop.
"I believe we've got every right to be urgent," Vigneault said when asked how his team would manufacture its intensity to match that of their opponent. "We are going to be urgent."
There's little reason for the Rangers not to be. The series through five games has been razor thin, with two games going to overtime and another being decided by a single goal. No team has won a game by more than a two-goal margin.
The Rangers won Game 1 before Montreal won the next two. The tide shifted back to New York's end in Game 4 before the Blueshirts took Game 5 in overtime.
"Both teams have had their moments where they were doing things well and the other team wasn't," said Derek Stepan. "It's kind of gone back and forth and really I think that's what's made it such a great series because the teams - when the pressure is on one side and one side gets the pressure, they have the opportunity and they have the momentum. When it switches over it seems it's just been going and forth."
"Going forward," he continued, "we always talk about momentum swings and Game 6, they're going to bring their best right off the hop. We have to be ready to be ready to handle that."
It's difficult to put any stock in home ice advantage in the playoffs, especially this series. In fact, Stepan lamented that the only advantage the home team has is in making the final change.
But with an opportunity to close out Montreal at home and avoid a risky Game 7 back at the Bell Centre, captain Ryan McDonagh said he and his teammates are happy to be in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden.
"It'd be huge. It gives us confidence here going into this game," McDonagh said. "If we're playing well, the crowd is going to be behind us and have momentum. It's about playing well here and playing to the right level of intensity and execution to give us a chance in this one."
Stepan and McDonagh, along with Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi have formed the core of the Rangers' decade-long stretch of success in New York. The Rangers are 7-2 in games when they can close out an opponent at The Garden since 2007.
"The building itself - I've been here seven years and played in some pretty big games - the building itself just seems to light up," Stepan said on Saturday. "It seems that the noise and the passion from the fans just brings an energy into the building that's hard to describe really. To be able to play on ice in front of that, that's a huge - it's something I'll never forget."