As promised, the New York Rangers went all out in the final game of the regular season, and it paid off big time as they shutout the New Jersey Devils with a convincing 4-0 victory. Led by Rick Nash’s two goals and the goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist, who made his 14th straight start, the Rangers secured the 6th seed and will face the Washington Capitals in round one of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
The Rangers and Capitals know each other all too well as it was New York who sent Washington packing in seven games in the playoffs last year. This season both teams enter the playoffs as two of the hottest teams in the league, and both seem to be firing on all cylinders.
The Rangers are still without a few key players, who they hope might be ready for a long post season run. The Rangers ended the month of April at 10-3-1 and have shown they will not be an easy out in the post season. The new additions the Rangers made at the trade deadline have been huge difference maker’s game in and game out. Most notably the play of John Moore, who has shown he can not only shut down the opposition on defense but he can get involved and be a threat on offense and on the Power Play, which has struggled at times this season.
Led by the top line of Stepan, Callahan and Nash, and the hot play of Brad Richards as of late the Rangers are now in great position to make a run in this year’s post season. Their goalie finished the regular season with a league high 24 wins and is as hot as any goaltender in the NHL. The Capitals and every other team in the East should be on notice, the New York Rangers are ready to make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup, and they are not going down easy. Being the first series to be set, the Rangers had time to prepare themselves for the Caps, who they beat two out of three times this season.
Being at the game Saturday, you could feel the energy and excitement of the building, the excitement that the post season is around the corner and the Rangers and their fans are ready to make the run that can lead them to their first Stanley Cup since 1994. I hope the players and fans remember the bitter disappointment of last season’s premature exit from the post season, and use that as motivation this year. Hopefully this team remembers how affected they were by playing seven game series’ throughout the playoffs and they play with a sense of urgency to put away their opponent as quickly as they can, don’t let them hang around too long so that this run will end with a parade down the Canyon of Hero’s .
What was a rollercoaster season, can now be forgotten because they are in the playoffs, and the only thing that matters now is 16 wins. 16 wins till we get to watch Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan Callahan raise the Stanley Cup in June.