May 14, 2014, 2:52 AM EST
After a spirited rebound from a 3-1 series deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins thanks in part to Henrik Lundqvist‘s great goaltending, you can forgive some Rangers fans for wondering if this is “the year.” PHT examines some of the top reasons why this may or may not be the time for a big run.
That term gets thrown around a lot in sports, yet this might be one of the more appropriate instances. The Rangers have been thrust into some trying situations and fought through them during this season and postseason, although it hasn’t always been pretty.
As a new head coach, Alain Vigneault began the season with a nine-game road trip that left them with a 3-6-0 record but may have planted a seed that this team would need to roll with the punches in 2013-14.
New York memorably played two back-to-backs and six games in nine nights between the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh series, which is quite the uncommon run in the postseason. (Teams generally – but not universally – receive one night between each game while they’re active in a series.) Most importantly in the “resiliency” category, they’ve fought off elimination four times already, with Lundqvist allowing a single goal in each game.
It also seems fitting that the Rangers ended up with a better road record (25-14-2) than home mark (20-17-4) this regular season.
Of course, the flip side of that is that you can only climb that mountain and defy those odds so many times.
It’s been a long season including the 2014 Olympics for the likes of Lundqvist, 32, so it’s not shocking that it sounded like he needed a break after Game 7:
That grind might just catch up to them in the next round or two.
Depth and Defense
Chalk it up to bad luck or poor efforts, but it really is stunning that Rick Nash hasn’t scored a goal in 14 playoff games and only has two career playoff goals overall. His only point in the last round came on a secondary assist … on an empty-netter.
Still, to some extent, that shows a strength of the Rangers: other players can step up when someone is struggling. The Rangers don’t have anyone in the top 10 in playoff scoring despite 14 games played, but they have four in the top 30: Brad Richards (nine points) plus Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot (all tied at eight). Guys like Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin bring different things to the table and even Brian Boyle had a big impact on Game 7 against Pittsburgh. When you have multiple weapons, it’s tough to negate all of them.
They also have the kind of blueliners who can negate opponents. Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal headline a defense that’s quietly formidable. The Rangers allowed 193 goals this season, which ranked fourth in the league.
Still, you have to think that Nash will need to come through at some point. Aside from Lundqvist, the Rangers are a bit lacking in top-end talent, at least at the “star” level. P.K. Subban, Drew Doughty, Zdeno Chara and Duncan Keith are more prominent defensive names than McDonagh at this point in most circles and the Rangers boast players either a bit past their prime or about to enter those peak years.
While the Rangers shouldn’t be taken lightly, they’d likely be underdogs against most – if not all – of the teams remaining in the playoffs. That might just be the way they like it, though.
Mar 4, 2015, 10:36 AM EST
“We are very pleased and hope our fans will be, as well.”
Mar 4, 2015, 10:31 AM EST
He’s on his way up from AHL San Antonio.
Mar 4, 2015, 9:57 AM EST
It took him just 68 decisions.
Mar 4, 2015, 9:21 AM EST
The captain is still proud to be a Maple Leaf.
Mar 4, 2015, 8:49 AM EST
Erik Cole and Marek Zidlicky are set to debut while Henrik Zetterberg might return from a concussion.
Mar 4, 2015, 8:02 AM EST
Wednesday’s collection of links.
Mar 3, 2015, 11:31 PM EST
Some exciting moments from Ducks – Coyotes.
Mar 3, 2015, 11:02 PM EST
The frequent Islanders hitter has two long-ago suspensions.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:40 PM EST
A truly weird scene for Florida’s goalies.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:17 PM EST
Easy, if uninspired, win for Tampa Bay.
Mar 3, 2015, 9:39 PM EST
He fought Marcus Foligno on Tuesday.
Mar 3, 2015, 9:24 PM EST
Tough start to Tuesday for goalies.
Mar 3, 2015, 9:18 PM EST
Montoya is currently trying to gut it out.
Mar 3, 2015, 9:06 PM EST
A contentious game in Columbus.
Mar 3, 2015, 8:16 PM EST
They traded for him on Monday.
Mar 3, 2015, 7:55 PM EST
Vancouver faces San Jose tonight.
Mar 3, 2015, 7:29 PM EST
He says he’s happy to be in New Jersey.
Mar 3, 2015, 6:29 PM EST
Could we see an upset or a blowout?
Mar 3, 2015, 5:33 PM EST
Incident occurred during TSN’s trade deadline day coverage.
Mar 3, 2015, 4:41 PM EST
Recapping the trade deadline.
- NHL on NBCSN: Reloaded Red Wings, Rangers set to battle tonight 27
- Bernier bests Panthers as Luongo goes from injured (and in street clothes) to back in net 3
- Phaneuf, Cuthbert and Lupul threaten lawsuit after tweet goes to air 57
- Doan: Coyotes rebuild was ‘not my idea, not my ideal situation’ 29
- Video: Kessel says the way Toronto media treats Phaneuf is ‘embarrassing’ 47
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 9
- Rutherford: ‘Our guys felt very strongly about reacquiring’ Lovejoy 49
- Winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline 78
- Giordano to have surgery, is ‘done for the season’ 22
- PHT’s 2015 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker 36
- Wild beat Avs, dying seconds fight set stage for rematch (171)
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline (78)
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder (74)
- Wings get Zidlicky from Devils (74)