If anyone thought that a playoff spot was a given coming off the Rangers’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals, it’s worth a quick history lesson.
In 2021 the Montreal Canadiens stunned the hockey world by getting to the Stanley Cup Final. Their reward? 55 points and last place the next season. The Islanders were expected to go deep and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Their reward? Fifth place and 84 points, 16 points out of the postseason.
In 2020 the Dallas Stars made it to the Western Conference Finals only to miss the playoffs in 2021. In 2019 the San Jose Sharks lost in the Western Conference Finals and finished last the next season. Carolina got the Eastern Conference Finals the same year but got bounced in five games in the First Round the next season.
And let’s not forget the Lightning who lost the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016 only to miss the playoffs the next season. Even better, what about Tampa’s embarrassing First Round four-game sweep by Columbus in 2019? Every member of the championship Lightning points to that adversity as a reason for their consecutive Stanley Cup wins.
And again, right now, the Rangers are in the playoffs.