For a team with its back against the wall, the Rangers' room is about as calm and relaxed as on an off-day in November. Instead of feeling the crushing pressure of a potential season-ending loss, the team was loose in the hours before Game 6 on Friday.
Forward Artem Anisimov was joking about a coffee endorsement for his favorite brand, faking a stellar American accent and drawing laughs from local reporters. Brian Boyle cruised through, asking teammate Mike Rupp about his lunch plans. Players ambled off after a short morning skate in high spirits.
They did not appear hampered by any lingering doubt about how they'd respond against the Devils in their fourth do-or-die match of this postseason. After all, they have won all three previous games when facing elimination.
"It'd be exciting regardless, but I feel like we really established ourselves in that last game. We like what we saw when we did that. It's exciting. It's not going to be easy, but we know if we go out there," Rupp said, pausing, "with this team, when its back is against the wall, we just usually give our best effort, so we're pretty comfortable in that situation."
"We're a resilient group in here and we take pride in the little things that make a big difference," Rupp added. "When we're playing our way and get our momentum going, it's fun."
Even coach John Tortorella, whose fire-breathing rants have made headlines throughout this playoff run, seemed pretty serene in assessing his team's mindset.
"I think our team really embraces a challenge," he said. "You want to try to write things out the right way to have an easier road going through, but we don't. And as we've gone through the playoffs we've had some things we've had to get accomplished in tough ways. I think it's really good for the team, not only in the present but the future, so we take 'em as they come and this is just a fantastic opportunity for us."