NEW YORK — They haven't met in the playoffs in 40 years. They haven't meant when it has really mattered since Emile Francis was coach and Glen Sather was one of his Rangers players. They haven't meant since Orr and Espo were in Boston and Don Cherry was still coaching Rochester in the AHL.
It could happen, sure, but Henrik Lundqvist is going to have to make it happen.
"You make your legacy as a player in these types of situations," forever prickly Rangers coach John Tortorella said after Lundqvist had stopped all 27 shots he faced Sunday to defeat the Capitals 1-0 and force a Game 7 Monday night at Verizon Center in Washington. "Some guys handle it. Some guys don't."
The Red Sox and Yankees, oh, they have met plenty. Some seasons, it seems as if they don't play anybody except each other. The Patriots and Giants have met in not one, but two, magnificent Super Bowls in recent years. The Celtics and Knicks hadn't met in 21 years in the playoffs, but they have played twice in three springs.
We've seen just about everything between the two metropolises that sandwich Connecticut. We've seen the Yankees become the only team in major league history to blow a 3-0 series lead. We've seen David Tyree make a miracle catch off his helmet.
But we haven't seen the Bruins and Rangers. Nope. Connecticut has been stuck in the Munson-Nixon Line for years. Connecticut has been forced to choose between Tom and Eli, between Melo and No-So-Mellow [KG]. Yet our state hasn't had to use the Connecticut River as a giant red line since 1973. The Bruins had won the Stanley Cup in 1972, but 1973 was the year when the only Cup won at Boston Garden was the Avco by the WHA Whalers in their first year of existence.
Rangers-Bruins? Hasn't happened in a generation, not since Watergate, "Crocodile Rock" and "The Exorcist."
But it could.
It's up to the Bruins, after falling in Toronto Sunday, to win a Game 7 at TD Garden Monday night.
And it clearly is up to King Henrik.
Yep, we're hankering for two weeks of Torts' postgame antics.
"Ask me a question, don't say, 'Talk about it,'" he chided one unfortunate soul only 45 seconds into a winning postgame news conference. "I'm not going to talk about it if it isn't a question."
So a little more than three minutes later, he was asked a pointed one: "You came away with the W, but just one goal. Are you at all concerned about the offense heading into Game 7?
"No," Tortorella said.
And he walked out of the room.
Yeah, the Bruins and Rangers can meet, and Torts can entertain us for two weeks. But first the Rangers will have to do something they have never done.
They'll have to win a Game 7 on the road for the first time in their long history. It didn't happen in 1994 when they won their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. Not in 1973, when they defeated the Bruins in 1973 in five games [Forget Espo, Hodge, Derek, Orr, etc. If you knew Gregg Sheppard and Doug Roberts led the Bruins in that series with two goals apiece, I owe you a milkshake]. No, it didn't even happen in, "1940! 1940!"
That's right. The Rangers have never lost a Game 7 at home. Lundqvist and the Rangers, in fact, beat Ottawa and Washington last year in seventh games at MSG. But they are 0-5 on the road, including 2009 against the Caps.
Considering the home team has won all six games in this series, considering the Rangers have scored two goals in the three losses in Washington, by my calculations, the Rangers will have to win Game 7 by .667-0. That's how badly the Rangers have struggled on offense, how badly their power play [2-for-26 in the series after 0-for-5 Sunday] has gone.
"If you lose two in overtime like we did there in this series, you're close," Lundqvist said. "It's just a bounce and you win it. So we know we can do it.
"They play really well at home, and they're confident. I think the games we've played in that building, special teams have played a big part. We played a really disciplined game tonight [no Washington power plays], and that's going to be key for us because they have a really good power play. Play hard, but play smart."
With Rick Nash and Brad Richards struggling so mightily in this series, Derick Brassard, acquired from Columbus at the trade deadline, has been a godsend. He scored the only goal of the game midway through the second period when his shot from the deep, deep slot went past a screened Braden Holtby. The goal was originally credited to Nash, which would have been his first of the series, but replays showed the puck bounced in off the arm of Caps defenseman Steve Oleksy.
"The crowd in the second period was chanting, 'Shoot the puck!'" said Brassard, who has a four-game point streak [two goals and five assists]. "When I received the pass, I was going back to John Moore, but I finally decided to shoot and Rick was right in front."
Brassard listened to the crowd. That's a little frightening, come to think of it.
Richards, meanwhile, has been demoted to the fourth line with Arron Asham and Chris Kreider, inserted in the lineup with the suspected concussion to Ryane Clowe. Seeing this was an elimination game, seeing he is in the second year of a whopping nine-year, $60 million deal, seeing Torts and Richards won the Stanley Cup in 2004 together in Tampa Bay, wow, this is a hard, hard fall for a star player. In fact, with Sather holding an amnesty-buyout option on Richards, this could have been his last game in a Blueshirt. Torts has wanted nothing to do with singling out Richards and Nash, but he said plenty when he said about seventh games: "You see what type of character you have as a player and as a team."
Lundqvist, meanwhile, needed to make only 15 saves in the first 40 minutes, although one was a splendid stop on Alex Ovechkin. It was in the third period, when he stopped 12, including ones on Mike Ribeiro and Eric Fehr, when he saved the Rangers' season.
"There was desperation out there," said Lundqvist, who marked his seventh career playoff shutout.
"Especially late in the game, he made some great saves," Tortorella said. "The ultimate goal for Hank in his mind is to win the Stanley Cup, but you need to go through these types of situations to get there. It's building. He stood in there last year and certainly came up big for us tonight."
King Henrik will have to do it again if the Rangers want to do what they've never done before. Win a Game 7 on the road. Then we'll talk about the red line on the Connecticut River.