The media hype surrounding the possibility of a 3-0 comeback by the New York Rangers over the Pittsburgh Penguins was astounding.
Usually, I am the only one who brings up such celestial possibilities. After all, I’m the one who reports the Full Moon Thursday over the Coliseum theory.
But the 3-0 comeback story is what hockey lore is made of. And as of right now, the only two stories remain: 1942 Maple Leafs, 1975 NY Islanders.
This is New York, and the Ranger/Islanders rivalry never ends until the last puck is dropped. So the possibility of this year’s Ranger squad adding their name to this very short list of come-back kids didn’t sit well with Islander fans, and the media outlets fed the fire.
THIRTY THREE YEARS!!! Thirty Three years! That’s what we were told. There were 33 years between the Leafs and the Islanders performing this feat of sheer will. It’s been exactly 33 years since it was last done.
But it got better.
Other ominous signs were thrown at us too. The Rangers play on 33rd street, and the last time it was done was in a series against the Penguins. Oooohhh…. I had chills.
Then I turned my attention to the Sharks vs. Dallas series, and they too were looking for their own signs of hope. The most humorous I found was that 1975 was also the year that a major cult classic movie came out—Jaws. The Sharks fans had their own vision of glory.
In Montreal, the papers were filled with news, "what if’s" and scenarios.
Oh, wait. That’s a normal news day in Montreal where the papers will have 27 pages of hockey coverage when there’s nothing really going on.
So three teams seemed poised to find their way into the history books by finding the will, determination and fortitude it takes to come back and win four in a row.
By Sunday night, three teams were no longer poised to join the list. The Rangers lost to the Penguins in overtime on Sunday afternoon, after coming back from a 2 -0 deficit in the early minutes o the third period. A
s I sat in the truck with the XM radio on listening intently, I thought it was actually possible. Could the Rangers win the game and force a game six? It was more than possible. I had to keep leaving the radio and running to the softball field to keep an eye on my daughter’s tournament game, but I couldn’t concentrate well enough to operate the ScoreStix. I apologized to the other parents, and headed back to the truck to find out how this game would end.
At 7:10 of overtime, Marion Hossa ended the Rangers season, and their cosmic possibilities. They were in good company with Montreal having been thrown out of the race to the History books less than 24 hours earlier.
I will admit, I had a bounce in my step as I went back to the field to give the heartbreaking news to my friend, the die-hard Ranger fan. As he stood by the fence, in his Ranger t-shirt, he took his eyes off the softball field for just a moment to see my reaction which would herald the fate of his team before I even uttered a word.
I was still 100 feet away from him when I just raised my arms to the sun, and threw my head back like a Russian gymnast who had just stuck a 10.0 landing.
He just shook his head in disappointment. Season over.
By this morning, the San Jose Sharks were also no closer to landing that third spot in history. Dallas advances and the Sharks start packing. Oh well.
The final four teams are now set. If one of them goes down early to a 3 - 0 deficit, I’m sure that this “33 year” story will find its way back onto the sports pages.
And who knows…. Maybe this IS the year it will happen again. I’ll bet there are a few sports writers in PA, Detroit and Dallas who are trying to make the connections.
This is Hockey, and every day until the final day of the Stanley Cup playoffs new stories for the history books will be made. There will be stories of strength, determination, glory and defeat. This is what they work for all season long. The chance to get closer to that sacred chalice.
And if no other team has to come back from 3 - 0 this year….well… I guess the NY Islanders record will just have to stand. Just like so many of their other records.
Enjoy Round three!