MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. -- The New York Rangers have Mount Vernon hockey fans seeing blue, as they look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference finals during Game 3 on Thursday night at home.
After easily dispatching the Canadiens in consecutive games at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the Rangers come home to Madison Square Garden on Thursday night with the Stanley Cup Finals set firmly in their sights.
Although the Rangers outscored their opposition 10-3 in the opening two games, and goalie Henrik Lundqvist looks like a Conn Smythe Trophy favorite, fans of the Blueshirts refuse to get ahead of themselves.
“Nothing is over until it’s over. I’m not going to be the one to jinx them,” superstitious fan Chris George said in Mount Vernon on Wednesday. “They’ve looked good so far, but I refuse to get excited until they’re there.”
Jordan Tyson, a Mount Vernon resident said he has been a fan since the Rangers' last turn hoisting the Stanley Cup in 1994. He said he’s cautiously optimistic about this team, but couldn’t help smiling when conjuring up memories of Mark Messier leading his team to their last NHL championship.
In 1994, the top seeded Rangers easily coasted through to the Eastern Conference finals before a pair of grueling seven game series against the New Jersey Devils and then Vancouver Canucks in the finals.
“(The 1994 team) definitely had more talent, but I like that this year’s team has been more tested and is tougher. There’s a lot of similarities, really” he said. “It’s hard not to look at Henrik and remember how Mike Richter stood on his head (in ’94).”
Outside of Lundqvist’s brilliance blocking shots, the other narrative in the second-seeded Ranger’s playoff run has been the galvanization of the team after midseason acquisition Martin St. Louis’ mother passed away suddenly from a heart attack in the second round.
Since her death, Tyson said that he felt that the team has played more inspired hockey, and indeed, the team has gone 5-0, allowing just six goals since her May 8 death.
“They’ve come together since her passing, and the team has come to life since,” he said. “Maybe I’m just an optimist, but it’s feeling more and more like this might just be a team of destiny.”