May 29, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) reacts on the bench with teammates Tanner Glass (15) , Kevin Klein (8) and Dan Girardi (5) as the Rangers play with an empty net against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in game seven of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Rangers are officially eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs and their window to win a championship is closing before our eyes.
One of the most important phrases in sports is the “window of opportunity.” The Knicks of the 90’s blew their window, failing to win when Michael Jordan went on his baseball sabbatical. The San Jose Sharks‘ window was emphatically closed shut this year, after a great run of postseason appearances. Now, it is hard not to believe that the New York Rangers‘ window of opportunity is inching ever so closely to being shut completely.
Sure, the Rangers have a ton of young talent on their roster right now combined with a great group of veterans. But the backbone of the Rangers is Henrik Lundqvist, and the star goalie is getting older. With every season that ends, more miles get put on Lundqvist, miles that can never be put back.
New York Rangers
Hockey is a sport where a goaltender can be the great equalizer. He can erase every mistake a team just made by snatching a puck with his glove or stretching his pad out to rob someone on the back post. That is what the Rangers have been relying on from Lundqvist for over a decade. They wasted some of his best years by putting sub-par teams around him.
The Rangers didn’t push all their chips to the center of the table, but they came awfully close to doing so. The Keith Yandle trade showed the urgency within the organization. There is no telling how many more years Lundqvist will be his usual self. There is usually no slow regression for goalies. They usually just fall off a cliff and never get their game back.
The majority of this Ranger team will be back next year, so we will see much of the same then. Obviously, there are some free agents, but most of them are homegrown guys who will want to stay in New York. Martin St. Louis, who played at a beer league level this postseason, will most likely retire. Glen Sather must look into making a couple of moves (cough, trade Dan Girardi, cough) to improve the teams’ depth, especially on the back end, while also finding a way to improve the teams’ puck-possesion numbers.
So, with the gut-wrenching loss to the Lightning, the Rangers’ window of opportunity slides closer and closer to being shut. Hopefully for the sake of Lundqvist, one of the games’ all-time greats, they will figure out a way to rectify some of the problems that haunted them this year. If not, Lundqvist and the Rangers will be jointing lists that no player or team would ever want to be on.
More from Blue Line Station
- Blake Wheeler’s Broadway Calling: Why He Chose the Rangers
- Rangers’ Playoff Redemption Recipe: Grit and Fresh Hopes
- Rangers’ Roster Chatter: Who’s Making the Cut and Who’s in the Penalty Box?
- Jacque Plante Trade Tree Between the Rangers and Canadiens
- These Rangers must learn Peter Laviolette’s ropes before they can fly