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Rangers Don't Need Any Guarantees

1994 is in the air as Rangers and Devils prepare for Game Six

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Can this captain match The Captain?

    You don't have to look too far to find someone talking about 1994 right now.

    Thank the schedulers in the NHL for this walk down memory lane. They are the ones who put Game Six and Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals on the same days that the Devils and Rangers played a pair of classics.

    Most of the Times' sports section on Friday is devoted to remembrances of May 25, 1994 and the paper has also been doing an entertaining series of interviews with participants on both sides of that epic series. The Daily News posted a story from the day before Game Six when a member of the Rangers made a proclamation that has resonated through the ages.

    "We're going to go in and win Game Six."

    Nine short words from Mark Messier that have become as big a part of Rangers lore as "Potvin Sucks!", retired sweaters and bad ice at Madison Square Garden. There were no such guarantees from any Rangers on Thursday, although John Tortorella did guarantee Henrik Lundqvist and Brad Richards would play well.

    Richards has some experience in this kind of spot. The Lightning trailed the Flames 3-2 heading into Game Six of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals and Richards came up with two goals and an assist on the double overtime winner by Martin St. Louis.

    There wasn't any guarantee from Richards before that game and that's the hidden secret to all of the celebration of Messier's gutsy proclamation. The guarantee was the easy part, but the hard part was the hat trick (plus an assist) that he came up with on the Meadowlands ice 18 years ago Friday night.

    Whether it is Richards, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan or someone else, the Rangers need a performance like that to bring them back across the river on Sunday night for Game Seven. It wouldn't hurt if Lundqvist channeled Mike Richter, the forgotten hero of that night, but winning this game is going to take a little heroism from one of the guys up front.

    The lesson of 1994 isn't that you need to call your shot. It's that you need to play like you did.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.