NEW YORK (WFAN) – Doesn’t it feel eerily like 1994?
The Rangers nabbed the top seed in the East this year for the first time since Mark Messier led them to their last Stanley Cup championship 18 years ago. Just like in ’94, they’re on the verge of defeating the Washington Capitals in the second round.
And oh, look who’s waiting once again in the Eastern Conference finals — Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils.
“For the glory of going to the Stanley Cup it’s an unbelievable matchup for the people that care about our rivalry,” Brodeur said Tuesday, according to the New York Post. “There are a lot of people who care about our rivalry. It would be the ultimate.”
But first, before Rangers fans can dream of another “Matteau, Matteau, Matteau!” moment against New Jersey, New York will have to notch one more win against the Capitals. They lead 3-2 in the best-of-seven, and could clinch it Wednesday night in Washington.
“We want to close it out and get this over with. It’s a lot easier said than done,” said Rangers forward Brad Richards. “We want to be as desperate as they are.”
The Rangers, of course, went on to win the Cup after their 1994 Eastern Conference finals matchup with Brodeur’s Devils. New Jersey also suffered playoff defeats to New York in 1992, 1997 and 2008. Their lone postseason victory in the Hudson River rivalry came in a 2006 sweep.
New Jersey split the series with John Tortorella’s squad during the regular season, so it surely wouldn’t be an easy walk to the Stanley Cup finals for New York. The seventh-ranked Devils have caught fire in the playoffs — and besides, Tortorella won’t let his players look beyond their current opponent.
“We won’t be overconfident,” Tortorella said. “This team doesn’t get overconfident.”
The Devils have already taken care of their half of the bargain. If the Rangers can’t seal the deal Wednesday in Washington, Game 7 would be Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
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