Teaming with Messier, Anderson answers critics

June 04, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals, New York Rangers coach Mike Keenan was asked a lot of questions about Glenn Anderson.

Anderson had scored only one goal in the postseason. Why was he still in the lineup?

The questions stopped when Anderson trailed Mark Messier into the Vancouver Canucks' zone Thursday night, and, amid a spray of ice chips and flying sticks, stuffed the puck into the net for a short-handed goal that turned out to be the game-winner and tied the series, 1-1.

In Game 3 tonight in Vancouver, Anderson will again be in the lineup with Messier as the Rangers attempt to get the upper hand in this best-of-seven series.

"Glenn and Mark have been a great combination for years," said Keenan. "And that was a great example of what they can do together.

"What all you guys forget, when you're asking about his scoring and about why I've continued to play him, is that he's a fierce competitor. I see and appreciate his effort."

Anderson, 33, and Messier, three months younger, grew up together with Edmonton. For 11 seasons they were with Oilers, and in that time, they each collected five Stanley Cup rings.

Then in 1991, Messier came to New York and Anderson went to Toronto. They were reunited just before the trading deadline this season, when the Rangers made a deal for the 6-foot-1, 190-pound right wing.

But until Thursday night, all Anderson had contributed in the post season was one goal in Game 2 against the New Jersey Devils.

Messier, on the other hand, had been Captain Courageous and Superman all rolled into one, as he guaranteed victories and delivered hat tricks and inspirational speeches.

"I was staying very positive," said Anderson. "I just kept trying to block out all the negativity from the outside world that was being dropped on me. I'd write myself very personal little sayings and tape them on the mirrors where I'd see them in the mornings. I just tried to stay focused."

So, Thursday night, when he bumped Vancouver center Trevor Linden and knocked his pass onto the stick of Messier, who began a mad sprint toward the Vancouver goal, Anderson said he was so focused he didn't even think about what to do next.

This was Edmonton all over again. This was how the Oilers won championships. He simply sprinted after Messier.

"I didn't have to look back to know he was there," said Messier. "We've played long enough together for me to know that he would be right on my tail. I knew once the puck went by the net, if it somehow got in front, he'd find a way to get there."

And Anderson knew if he got to the net, Messier would somehow get him the puck.

When Anderson tapped it into the net, it his 90th postseason goal, making him the fourth player in history to reach that total.

Only Wayne Gretzky (110), Jari Kurri (102) and Messier (97) have also done it.

"Anyone can talk a great game," said Anderson. "But it's turning words into action that count. You've got to focus in and reach another level. There are only a few championship players who know how to do that."

He says he has played better in other games in this postseason. But nothing in those games stood out like Anderson and Messier on Thursday.

For Messier, it was business as usual. For Anderson, it was a promise of more to come.

"Mess and I demand a lot from each other," said Anderson. "But you definitely haven't seen the best of me yet, and you will. There's no doubt that playing with a great player such as Messier definitely brings your game up to another level.

"He's like a Wayne Gretzky or a Doug Gilmour or a Mario Lemieux. He brings his game up and your game up at the same time."

But even after the play of Messier and Anderson upset the plans of the Canucks, who were dreaming about leaving New York with a 2-0 lead, coach Pat Quinn said it will be a sad day when they decide to retire.

"I always felt as a player that they would have to put shackles on me to pull me out of the game," said Quinn. "When you have players of that caliber, I don't care that their play has dropped off a little bit as they've become older. They're both still so exciting and they are still so valuable to our game that I hope that both of them require shackles to take them off.

"Now, if you're asking, would I like to see them disappear for the balance of this series, you're darn right. But for our game, I hope they've got a lot of more of that ahead of them and a lot more years in the game."

STANLEY CUP FINALS

VANCOUVER VS. N.Y. RANGERS

(Series tied, 1-1)

Tuesday: Canucks 3, Rangers 2, OT

Thursday: Rangers 3, Canucks 1

Today: at Vancouver, 8:08 p.m.

Tuesday: at Vancouver, 9:08 p.m.

2 Thursday: at N.Y. Rangers, 8:08 p.m.

June 11: at Vancouver, 8:08 p.m.*

June 14: at N.Y. Rangers, 8:08 p.m.*

*-if necessary

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