Jun 14, 2014, 1:53 AM EDT
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Maybe it makes sense that the New York Rangers began the 2013-14 season with a nine-game road trip, as few things came easy to this team. They fought through a lot of obstacles to make it to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, yet the Los Angeles Kings finally represented a mountain they couldn’t climb.
Depending on the next steps this organization takes, this will either be a series they regret for years or one of those “learn how to lose before you learn how to win” moments.
Let’s take a look at the Rangers’ season as a whole and consider what it could mean for the future.
- Henrik Lundqvist finally made it to the championship round of a postseason as the Rangers reached their first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years. “King Henrik” really came through when the Rangers were on the brink of elimination, which should dispel most of the remaining notions about his inability to step up in big games. The Kings eventually ended his ridiculous run, yet he still impressed in defeat.
- New York came into the 2013-14 season with serious free agent questions to answer. Ultimately, they re-signed Lundqvist and also gave Dan Girardi a contract extension. After failing to reach a compromise with Ryan Callahan, they traded him and what became two first-round picks for Martin St. Louis, who enjoyed some big playoff moments after early struggles with his new team.
- Some might wonder if the Girardi extension will eventually haunt the Rangers. At least plenty of people on social media were hammering on the defensive-minded blueliner, to the point that there were jokes about the jokes.
- Even with the big questions answered, there are plenty of support players who need new deals. From RFAs including regular season scoring leader Mats Zuccarello and rising young forward Chris Kreider to underrated UFA blueliner Anton Stralman, GM Glen Sather has some decisions to make. (See the full list here.)
- The Rangers have to hope that Rick Nash‘s playoff luck turns around in the future. Health could certainly be a factor in an up-and-mostly-down season (he was limited to 65 regular season games), yet at 29 with a pricey deal that runs though 2017-18, there’s also the worry that his best days are behind him.
- All things considered, Alain Vigneault’s first season as the Rangers’ head coach was a success. More and more, they’re playing his style of hockey, so there are reasons for optimism. That doesn’t mean it will be easy to avoid another 20-year drought between Stanley Cup Final appearances, however.
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight 5
- Pens’ Rutherford to columnist: ‘You’re a (expletive) jerk’ 24
- Ducks silence Winnipeg’s whiteout crowd with OT win, push Jets to brink of elimination 26
- Video: Wild chase the Blues away to take series lead 42
- Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead 96
- Video: Jets fans celebrate return of playoff hockey with whiteout in Winnipeg 5
- Burrows’ instigator suspension rescinded, allowed to play Game 4 24
- No hearing scheduled for Hamhuis after Bennett headshot 13
- Sharks and McLellan have ‘mutually agreed’ to part ways 50
- Of course they did: Oilers win 2015 NHL Draft Lottery, will select first overall (172)
- Stone suffered microfracture on Subban slash, Sens confirm (102)
- Report: Kings’ Stoll arrested for cocaine, MDMA possession (Updated) (99)
- Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead (97)
- Eichel understands Murray’s disappointment, but ‘extreme competitor’ has ‘a lot to offer’ (95)