Those who weren’t around aren’t impressed.
So they say.
He was still trying to savor last night’s dramatic 5-3 Devils victory in Game 5 at the Garden, where Ryan Carter scored the tie-breaking winner with 4:24 to play.
But the victory only launched memory lane to “We’ll Win Tonight,” The Post’s famous back page of May 25, 1994.
“Are they making promises already?” Patrik Elias wondered. “We won’t worry about it. Who cares what happened way back then?”
They are talking about Mark Messier’s promise, 18 years ago today, that the Rangers would win Game 6 of that epic, historic second Battle of the Hudson, that would send the winner to the Stanley Cup finals as the favorite.
NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg
DEVILS’ GARDEN: Zach Parise celebrates the empty-net goal that finished off the Devils’ 5-3 victory over the Rangers in Game 5 last night at MSG.
It’s so eerily similar, the Devils up 3-2 again, heading home after winning two straight with two chances to knock off their rivals.
Back then, the Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy as regular-season champs, six points ahead of the Devils. This season, the Rangers won the Eastern Conference and the Devils finished seven points back.
The 1994 Rangers, seeking to end their 54-year Stanley Cup drought, missed the playoffs the previous year, bringing in Mike Keenan. These Devils, seeking to win their first Cup since 2003, their longest drought since they started winning Cups, missed the playoffs last season and brought in Pete DeBoer as coach.
The 2006 Hurricanes won the Cup after missing the 2004 playoffs, but the intervening lockout gives that rebound an asterisk because of the two-year rebuild. So the Devils are trying to become the first team since those 1994 Rangers to hoist Stanley the year after missing the playoffs.
Of course, Martin Brodeur, the last of those legends still playing, and incredibly still at the same stand, understands the significance of Game 6 tomorrow.
“This situation is what creates history,” Brodeur said, putting everything in the grand perspective it rightly deserves. “Whatever happens in the next few days is what this rivalry is all about.”
It’s all set up for tomorrow in Newark, though they should move the game to the Meadowlands just to complete the recreation.
“It’s a good feeling. We’ve worked hard to get in that position. But nothing’s done yet,” said Brodeur, who will attempt to exorcise perhaps the final demon of his best-ever, Hall of Fame career.
In Game 6 in 1994, the Devils were leading 2-0 as the second period dwinded, Rangers GM Neil Smith dying agonies in the press box, when Alex Kovalev let go the shot that Rookie of the Year Brodeur should have stopped.
Then Messier, he of the “guarantee,” tied the game in the third, scored the winner and added the empty-netter for a hat trick and everlasting Rangers glory, at least once Stephane Matteau finished the legendary series in double-OT in Game 7 at the Garden.
It’s legend, and it will live large until the Devils consign it to the scrapheap of history. This is the first time the teams have met this late since then, and the first time they’ve had a Battle of the Hudson go this far since then. The Devils dare not let it come back to Manhattan again.
“We definitely want to finish them in our building,” Ilya Kovalchuk said. “This is a tough building to win in, and we did it twice in a row.”
A third time might be a charm, but they would be pushing their luck. Especially with Messier’s Promise still to be avenged.
Rangers, Zach Parise, the Devils, Devils, Devils, Martin Brodeur, Mark Messier