As noted, the Rangers have never completed a series comeback when trailing 3-1. Not sure that matters to the players in the Rangers' locker room one iota. They are the ones who are suddenly cooking, having won two in a row after looking absolutely cooked after Game 4. History and the burden of that history might have a greater bearing on the Penguins, who still have a clutch of players who consistently faced adversity in winning the 2009 Stanley Cup. That version of the Penguins dropped the first two games in the second round and in the final before winning both series in Game 7s in Washington and Detroit, respectively. Since then, not so much positive history, as the Pens lost Game 7 at home in 2010 against the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the second round and then blew a 3-1 series lead against Tampa in 2011 in the first round -- although neither Crosby nor Evgeni Malkin played because of injury. Coach Dan Bylsma said he has had coaches who tried to treat a Game 7 as just as another game. He's not one of them. "They're Game 7s. These are ones you dream about playing and you played in your backyard," Bylsma said. "I think we've got to relish that opportunity to play in games like this."
When we wrote the series preview about five years ago (OK, it only seems like this series has been going on for years), one of the key points was which of the teams' snake-bit star players, Rick Nash or Crosby, would be more of a factor? Heading into Game 7, you have to give the nod to Crosby, although he was held off the score sheet in Games 5 and 6 and was visibly frustrated by what was going on in Game 6, getting tangled up with Dominic Moore (some have alleged a nasty spear, although the evidence hardly supports that assessment of what actually happened) and drawing a crosschecking penalty. There also was some jousting with Brian Boyle, and Crosby got a good squirt of water from Henrik Lundqvist as the Rangers netminder skated by a pile of bodies at the end of the second period. Ah, all in good fun, and Crosby downplayed the extracurricular stuff Monday. "It doesn't feel any different than any other playoff series, or I don't feel like we've been involved. We're talking about it now because we lost the last two games. [If] we would have won them, we wouldn't be talking about it. I think we have to focus on playing, especially in Game 7, all our energy has to go towards being our best," Crosby said Monday. The fact still remains that Crosby has one goal in this series and just one goal this entire postseason. That's one more than Nash, who has been a nonfactor in this series, and, with five assists in 13 postseason games, his long-term viability with the Rangers has to be in question. Unless of course he gets up off the mat in Game 7 and makes an impact. As we suggested at the outset, if we had to pick one of the two to get into the action and make a difference in Game 7, we'd have to go with the guy who has a golden goal to his credit and a Stanley Cup ring, and is about to win his second Hart Trophy as league MVP, and that would be Crosby.