At this time last season, the Rangers were entering the playoffs for the first time in five years and they had no exceptions to make it far. If they won a round, that was good enough for the fanbase. The Rangers shocked many by making it to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final and entering this season, exceptions were much higher. While there were struggles early on, the Rangers were able to find their game and played like the team we thought they should have been.
They made two big trades at the deadline and have the deepest team they have had in many years. The Devils are in the same position that the Rangers were in last season. They shocked everyone as they jumped to second in the Metropolitan Division. They are the ones playing with house money and if they make it far, cool. If not, they can improve for next season. The Rangers have all the pressure on them to make it far based on expectations and the moves they made to improve the team.
Let’s talk about the expectations the Rangers were facing going into the season. After making it to the final four, many experts and fans were expecting the same or even better this season. After all, they got the experience of losing after going far and their young players had an amazing playoff to build off of going forward.
They added Vincent Trocheck to replace Ryan Strome and they looked good going into the season. As we know, it wasn’t an easy path to get to the playoffs this season. The Rangers struggled early on this season and two months in, it looked like massive changes were going to be made. They were able to turn it around and save their season, but those early season struggles showed that they were not ready to handle these high expectations.
As they continued to get better as the year went on, they were able to fill in some of the holes in the lineup by making some massive trades. They brought in Vladimir Tarasenko, Niko Mikkola, Tyler Motte and Patrick Kane. These names were able to help push the Rangers forward and they have added what the Rangers were lacking for the majority of the season.
Since the Rangers are entering a cap crunch, it is likely that a majority of these names won’t be back next season unless team-friendly deals. These deals also added more pressure onto the team because if you bring players like Kane and Tarasenko, you are expected to win more than one round in the playoffs and should be Stanley Cup favorites. If they are bounced in round one, it is going to be a massive disappointment for the fans and the front office.
Let’s talk about their first-round opponent, the Devils. The Hudson River Rivalry is reignited and it is going to be an exciting series. As mentioned earlier, the Devils are just like the Rangers last season. They finished high in the standings and entering the playoffs, they have very few expectations.
If they lose to the Rangers, it’s no big deal and they can come back next season. If they beat the Rangers, it’s going to be an even more successful season for the team. The Devils have a superstar in Jack Hughes who just recorded a 99-point season and he along with his teammates is going to bring a battle to the Rangers. Their speed is going to be an issue for the Rangers and if they win the series, Devils fans are going to shove it in Ranger fans’ faces for years to come.
The Blueshirts are going into the series as a slight underdog, so many are thinking the Devils will beat them. While that could be the case, they have much more to prove than the Devils. The Rangers want to show everyone that they are a legit threat in these playoffs and all these moves were made in order for them to be holding the Stanley Cup in June. This is an exciting time so buckle up. It’s going to be a fun ride to the finish.