We’ve had a few hours to digest the bitterness of the loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, so now we can look at what we learned about the New York Rangers. Losing is never easy, but this one seems a bit easier to take.
There’s no doubt about it, you have to lose first to win later. The Lightning are the perfect example of that. They were the team that took down the President’s Trophy winning Rangers in 2015, only to lose in the Final to Chicago. Look at what followed. A Conference Finals loss in 2016. Missing the playoffs in 2017. A Conference Finals loss in 2018. Then, in 2019, after a 128 points season, they were swept in the First Round by the Blue Jackets. We all know what followed.
The Rangers have to hope that their road to a Stanley Cup is not as arduous.
This one is easier to take because no one thought that they would get this far. Blue Line Station’s unscientific poll asked readers how far they honestly thought the team would go in the playoffs.
Okay…The Rangers’ backs are to the wall, but who knew they would get this far? Be honest, BEFORE the playoffs started, how far did you really think they were going to go?
— Blue Line Station (@BlueLineStation) June 10, 2022
It’s no surprise that 70% thought a Second Round exit was in the works with 19% believing that would be ousted in the First Round. Only 11% believed they could make it to the Final. Call them the “Optimists Club.”
In 2012, 2014 and 2015 we felt nothing but despair after those bitter playoff losses. In the early 1980s it was nothing but frustration after being ousted by the Stanley Cup Islanders almost every year. In the 1970s it was a broken ankle to Jean Ratelle and a beatdown by the Broad Street Bullies that left us feeling empty.
Of all the playoff losses, this one feels most like 1979 when a team that had no business making the Stanley Cup Final got that far through superior goaltending and pure moxie. Of course, after that run, that team had the misfortune of running into a dynasty on Long Island.
So, this one feels different. It gives us a reason for hope for the future. We’ll get into the salary cap situation soon (it isn’t pretty), but for now, let’s reflect on the positives we can take away from the playoffs.