May 16, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils center Ryan Carter (20) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the second period in game two in the Eastern Conference finals of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
To refresh your memory: in that series, the Rangers went down, 3-2. Team captain Mark Messier guaranteed a win in Game 6, then went out and recorded a natural hat trick to help force Game 7. In that deciding game, Stephane Matteauscored the game-winning goal in double overtime, sending the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Eighteen years later, the Devils find themselves in the same position. After they stole Game 5, 5-3, New Jersey has the opportunity to close out the Rangers on home ice tonight in Game 6. New Jersey won't let that meltdown happen again, and many players believe that previous history doesn't apply to them.
"Thats 15, 20 years ago," Devils captain Zach Parise told Mark Everson of the New York Post. "It doesn't matter to me."
If the Devils can't close out the Rangers, it won't be because of Messier's guarantee from the 90s. It will be the team's failure to take control of the game. Game 5 was dominated by New York, who outshot New Jersey and generated better scoring opportunities for most of the game. A poor start in the first period and a shaky outing from Henrik Lundqvist put them in their series hole.
New Jersey wants to put New York away tomorrow night, returning to their strong forecheck to dominate the game.
"We want to do it tomorrow," right wing Dainius Zubrus told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "We're definitely not hoping to win. We want to win. We don't want to go back to their building. It was a tough game. They played real well yesterday, I thought, and we don't want to be going back for Game 7, that's for sure."
The Rangers aren't resting on their history either. New Jersey has won four straight conference finals, and New York knows it will need to play its game to walk away with a series-tying win.
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur is the only active player remaining from that 1994 series. At the time, Brodeur had just 51 regular season games to his name. He said he wasn't worried about his previous loss.
Peter DeBoer summed up the importance of the loss in 1994, making it into a lighthearted moment during the media call.
"I don't even think about '94," he told Gulitti. "In '94 I still had hair. It was that long ago. That plays no part into what we're doing."
So put away that memorabilia from '94. It has no bearing on this series, and won't be the difference tomorrow night.