Eric Adolphus, Contributing Writer |
The New York Rangers are headed back to the playoffs. After an overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks on the road, the Rangers got that point they needed to secure a playoff spot for the seventh straight year, and the 11th time in 12 years. The Rangers did not make it easy for themselves in the game against the Sharks, as they were largely outplayed throughout the entirety of the game. However, a late burst in the third period that included three goals scored in a span of five minutes and seven seconds to tie it up sent the game to overtime and got the Rangers the point they needed to punch their ticket to the playoffs.
While the New York Rangers have experienced a string of excellence in the past decade, the last time they won the Stanley Cup was in 1994, when the team consisted of legends like Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, and goaltender Mike Richter. They have had deep runs into the grueling two-month long marathon that is known as the Stanley Cup Playoffs, most notably with a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2014 in which they lost the series to the Los Angeles Kings during a thrilling series which they fell four games to one. The following year, the Rangers made it as far as game seven of the Eastern Conference finals and got shut out by Ben Bishop and the Lightning by a score of 2-0.
The Rangers have not had an easy run this season, as they play in the NHL’s best division by far. The Rangers clinched a playoff berth this year via the wild card, with a record of 46-25-5, leaving them with 95 points with only a few games left to play. Pulling out a playoff berth in this division was no easy feat, as the Washington Capitals (51-18-8, 110 points), Columbus Blue Jackets (49-20-8, 106 points) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (47-19-11, 105 points) have all had historic seasons in their own right. To put that in perspective for the Rangers, they would be in first place in two other divisions and earn a playoff berth not via wild card in every other division.
Perhaps one of the major cornerstone’s of the New York Rangers for the past decade has been the netminder, Henrik Lundqvist, who has been viewed by many as the bedrock of the team’s success. Lundqvist may be the most decorated goaltender who has yet to hoist the Stanley Cup trophy.
This season he acquired his 400th career win, putting him in the top 10 all time for wins as a goalie in the NHL. He is the only non-Canadian player to crack that list. Amidst the frustrations of not being able to hoist that illustrious trophy, Lundqvist tries to stay positive and focused, as he has been quoted as saying “It is on my mind a lot, I’m not gonna lie. I don’t know if it’s an obsession, but when you look at how much time we all put into this, and how much it means — it’s hard not to call it obsessed. That’s why we play. You want to win. I always say it’s about the journey, too. You have to enjoy the regular season, because that’s the biggest part of the season.”
The Rangers look to finish up the regular season strong against the Philadelphia Flyers, and will prepare for a battle against Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens, which is sure to be a battle of goaltenders. Only time will tell if King Henrik gets an opportunity to lift that Stanley Cup.