NEWARK, N.J. — Eighteen years ago, Mark Messier set the stage for one of sports' most dramatic moments.
On the eve of the Rangers' must-win Game 6 against the Devils at New Jersey in the 1994 Eastern Conference final, Messier guaranteed his team would force a deciding contest at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers not only won, Messier had a hat trick.
Fast forward to now. The teams once more head to a n East final Game 6 in New Jersey with the Rangers down 3-2, needing a win to stay alive.
That's where the similarity ends. There is no Messier in the Rangers' locker room to will his team to victory after predicting it. And New York isn't the star-laden team that ended the franchise's half-century Stanley Cup drought in 1994.
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, 40, is the only player remaining on either team from the 1994 series. "I don't see anything that is similar," he said Thursday. "It's different teams and a different way of playing the game. That's 18 years ago. That's a long time. I know I'm feeling a lot different."
Follicley challenged New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer, 43, was on the verge of starting his career behind the bench at the time and said his only memory of the guarantee was that he still had hair 18 years ago.
Rangers coach John Tortorella said his players were not even thinking about the comparison. "Not to disrespect what happened, but that has nothing to do with how we're preparing, I guess, is the best way to put it."
Around the league: Canucks coach Alain Vigneault confirmed reports that goalie Roberto Luongo has asked to be traded. "This is what he wants now," Vigneault told Canadian TV network TVA Sports. "And what we must do is (make the best decision) for our organization." The Lightning is among the teams to which Luongo will accept a trade, according to the previous reports. Luongo's contract has 10 years left and pays $6.714 million the next six. … Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival has no structural damage to his right knee, which appeared to be injured on what looked like a knee-on-knee hit by the Kings' Dustin Brown in Game 5 of the West final Tuesday, general manager Don Maloney said. Rozsival, who was on crutches, has a knee/thigh bruise, Maloney said. The hit came late in overtime, 12 seconds before Dustin Penner scored to clinch the series for Los Angeles. No penalty was called.