NEW YORK – In a dressing room filled with forlorn faces coming to grips with the reality of a 0-3 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Final, there was some chatter about the impossible.
"I'm not going to lie to you – today, it's pretty much impossible to be upbeat," Rangers forward Brad Richards said Tuesday afternoon. "But the series is not over. You have to get a good meal, get a good night's sleep and then all of this will be behind you. Then it's game day."
That leads into the other kind of impossibility – or rather, the possibility – that comes along with 0-3. Four teams in NHL history have come back to win a seven-game playoff series after facing a three-game deficit. One has even done it in the Stanley Cup Final – the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Rangers hope to be history's fifth if they can come back against the Los Angeles Kings, starting with Wednesday's Game 4 at Madison Square Garden.
"We know it's not impossible," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "We've seen it been done. You look at the teams that have done it, but (all you need to do) is get one game. Then you'll start feeling better about yourself. Then you can get another one, and it goes from there. It kind of snowballs.
"We wake up tomorrow and try to win one game."
There are quite a few folks who know exactly what it takes to complete this most daunting task. Most of them wear black and white, which doesn't help the Rangers. The Kings came back from a 0-3 deficit against the San Jose Sharks earlier this postseason.
The other player with this sort of experience is Rangers forward Daniel Carcillo, who's eligible to return in Game 4 from a six-game suspension for abuse of officials.
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In 2010, Carcillo was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers team that came back from a 0-3 hole to beat the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinal. Those Flyers went on to play for a Stanley Cup.
"It's the same feeling that we have in this room, the belief that we can always come back," Carcillo said. "We can always win a game as long as we have time on the clock. … I don't really want to go back four years and compare, but it just boils down to believing and executing a game plan. They're not unbeatable, you know."
The Rangers' belief stems from their comeback against the Pittsburgh Penguins in an Eastern Conference semifinal last month. They dug themselves out of a 1-3 playoff series deficit for the first time in team history.
It's not the same, though – it's not the Stanley Cup Final. And it wasn't like staring down a potentially hard-to-swallow sweep.
"I think you feel a lot of different emotions right now, and anger is probably one of them," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "I think it's important that you don't feel sorry for yourself. You're disappointed and upset you're in this position.
But at the same time you have to accept it and move on and get ready for the next game."
Said Staal: "You don't want to end your season losing a game at home and giving the Stanley Cup to the other team. It's not going to happen that way."