Eighteen years ago, to the day, Mark Messier pulled off the single greatest money-where-your-mouth-is performance sports has ever seen after guaranteeing a game six win in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals.  He scored a hat trick, picked up an assist, and just like that a New York legend was born.  Tonight, the Rangers find themselves in the exact same situation, down three games to two against the New Jersey Devils.  Another must-win played away from home.  Another chance for heroes to emerge.  Erie stuff, for sure, but let’s not let history delude us into expecting a repeat.  No guarantee has been made by the Blueshirt captain this time around.  No epic storyline is ready to be written.  No curse ready to be broken.  We’ve been outplayed and outworked almost every step of the way this series and there’s only one conclusion to draw for the game six result…

We.  Will.  Lose.  Tonight.  Mark it down, take it to the bank, pre-write the headlines, whatever you want.  It’s over.  It was a good run and a fun year, but tonight’s the swan song.  We lost this series when we lost game five in heartbreaking fashion and there’s no coming back after that failed comeback.  I felt it all of yesterday, the empty understanding that comes with a season’s end, when you start to convince yourself there are other things in life worth caring about than the next scheduled hockey game.  Sucks, I know, but it’s done.  The only step of the grieving process left to tackle is watching LA lift the Cup right in Brodeur’s fat face.  I’ve accepted the inevitable and am fully ready for tonight’s killer blow.

All year I’ve known the fate of this Rangers team but couldn’t quite internalize exactly how painful it would end up being.  I didn’t see the whole big picture, probably because I didn’t want to.  I knew we were bound to follow in the footsteps of the would-be champions before us, the Chicagos, the Bostons, the Pittsburghs, who all suffered emotionally brutal late round losses before claiming their Cup.  I knew this all along, but never imagined that the exact form our torture would take would be the single most devastating situation I could have ever conjured up.  Losing to the Devils.  I feel like Brad Pitt in Seven, completely blindsided by my own lack of understanding as I’m looking at Lundy’s severed head in a box.  It’s the hockey gods’ cruel joke and I’ve just been blind to the punchline… @Osgood_StoolNYC