New York Rangers can take invaluable lessons from Tampa Bay

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JUNE 07: Pat Maroon #14 of the Tampa Bay Lightning takes a shot on Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers during the first period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on June 07, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - JUNE 07: Pat Maroon #14 of the Tampa Bay Lightning takes a shot on Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers during the first period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on June 07, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /
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No matter what happens in what is now a three-game series, the New York Rangers can take lessons from the Tampa Bay Lightning that will prove invaluable in the future.

You get the feeling that the inability to finish off their opponents in Game Three may come back to haunt the Blueshirts, with the Bolts now having won two straight to make it a tied series.

Tampa Bay finally woke up in Games Three and Four and are now playing like the juggernaut that won back-to-back Stanley Cups and is aiming for a rare and historic three-peat.

As such, and while the Rangers have eight straight playoff games on home ice, the momentum appears to be firmly with the Lightning who are now starting to play at the peak of their powers.

That is certainly bad news for the Rangers who are battling hurt too, and this series is in very real danger of getting away from them quickly given the fact that the Bolts have now rediscovered their groove.

However, even if Tampa Bay does take care of business to set up a mouthwatering Stanley Cup Final against the red-hot Colorado Avalanche, there’s still plenty of positives for the Rangers to take forward.

And not just the fact that they have surpassed all expectations to deliver the best season in arguably nearly a decade.

No, should this series end in heartbreak, the Rangers can use the incredible experience gained this postseason to help propel them to the next level next season. You need to be battle-tested to reach the mountain top, after all.

They can also apply the lessons learned from going up against one of the best teams in modern NHL history to ensure this epic postseason run wasn’t just a fluke one-off mirage.

Chief among those lessons should be how the Lightning have displayed their famous killer instinct at just the right time.

Perhaps rusty in Games One and Two after a long layoff, the Bolts dominated the Rangers in Game Three and took full advantage of the opportunities presented to them in the form of penalties. Then, with seconds remaining, they had the calmness to put the foot down on the throat of their opponent and call game.

TAMPA, FLORIDA – JUNE 07: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers dives on the puck to make a save against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on June 07, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA – JUNE 07: Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers dives on the puck to make a save against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on June 07, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /

That only comes with having been there and done it before.

Game Four was a different case study in that Tampa Bay came out swinging, landing a few early lethal blows before delivering the knockout haymaker. The Rangers never looked like putting up much of a fight.

For those getting carried away after the first two games of this series, the Lightning were always going to come back because they’ve been here before and they know what it takes.

This is a core group of players that have tasted defeat in the playoffs before, and this is also a core group that are tried and tested when it comes to overcoming adversity and grinding out win after win all the way to the promised land.

It is that kind of mentality and killer instinct to jump on other team’s mistakes and punish them without any hesitation that will only serve these young Rangers well going forward.

It should also serve them well in Game Five and beyond given that if they can stay hot on home ice and win tonight, they can be confident that they can finish off the Bolts at Madison Square Garden in a Game Seven if needed.

But, no matter what happens, the Rangers should be studying every inch of the Lightning incredibly closely to ensure they adopt the same championship habits that have made Tampa Bay such a formidable modern-day NHL dynasty.

If they can do indeed do that – borrowing from the elite is never a bad thing – then the Rangers may well have a chance to launch their own Stanley Cup dynasty with their current core.

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