New York Rangers fans, it will be okay

Losing two straight playoff games really messes with one's emotions. Let's try to ease those nerves.
Rangers' captain Jacob Trouba during Game 5 loss
Rangers' captain Jacob Trouba during Game 5 loss / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

One week ago, Artemi Panarin had just scored an OT winner in Game 3 to give the New York Rangers a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Carolina Hurricanes. They had not lost a playoff game yet. The fanbase was on top of the world. Oh how quickly things can change.

Fast forward to today, and the Rangers have yet to close out the Canes. Carolina won games 4 and 5 to extend the series and strike fear into the hearts of nearly every Rangers fan. Instead of whispers of the Stanley Cup, now many fans are worried about getting reverse-swept. While this quick turn is commonplace for sports fans, especially in New York, it is unwarranted here. The Rangers will be fine and should advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Ideally, they get it done tonight, but it is possible that we will have our eyes glued to the TV for Game 7 on Saturday. Regardless, I have compiled a few reasons to ease the minds of the Blueshirts faithful so that we may watch tonight’s showdown with a cleaner headspace.

Ottawa Senators v New York Rangers
The Rangers after clinching the President's Trophy with a win over Ottawa / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Resilience (and history)

To start, a third loss in row would be rare for this iteration of the Rangers. New York lost three straight games only once this season and it game during the doldrums of the season. From January 6th to January 13th, the Rangers lost the Canadiens, Canucks, Blues, and Capitals all in a row. Besides that, their longest losing streak is two games. This is a major reason they were the President’s Trophy winners. This team knows how to bounce back.

If you want to look past this team, only four times in NHL history has a team comeback from a 3-0 series deficit. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders, 2010 Philadelphia Flyers (coached by Peter Laviolette), and the 2014 Los Angeles Kings are the only teams ever to accomplish this feat.

Igor Shesterkin
Igor Shesterkin leading the Rangers onto the ice / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

A brick wall in goal

Next up is the man we have between the pipes. Igor Shesterkin has been rock solid in the playoffs. It is no coincidence that the Rangers’ two losses arguably came during Shesterkin’s two worst performances. However, he still sports a .924 save percentage and 2.33 GAA in this year’s playoffs. For his career, Igor has a .927 save% and 2.42 GAA. Those stats level up when he faces the Hurricanes as Shesty is 12-10 in his career against Carolina (regular season and playoffs) with a .926 save%. In the playoffs, that save% jumps to .934. Finally, when he’s under the bright lights of PNC Arena, Igor has .940 career save% in Carolina. I rest my case.  

Will Cuylle
Rookie Will Cuylle celebrates his first Stanley Cup Playoffs goal / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

They’ve had (mostly) solid play in the two losses

Finally, the Rangers have been solid for the most part in their two losses. In Game 4, the Hurricanes opened up with their hair on fire in the first period as their backs were completely against the wall. In the final two periods, the Rangers controlled play and were able to tie it early in the third. Carolina’s game winning goal came on the powerplay, which was bound to strike at some point. Tough loss but overall a good performance.

In Game 5, the Rangers dominated the Canes defensively through two periods. Igor faced only 18 shots, most of them from the outside, and the Rangers led 1-0 on Jacob Trouba’s short-handed goal. Then everything came apart in the third as they made three major mistakes. On the first goal, Mika Zibanejad changed at the wrong time, allowing Jordan Staal to walk into the zone for a 1-on-1 where he made a great move to score. On the second goal, Panarin was caught sleeping on the back check and allowed Evgeny Kuzentsov to clean up a big rebound. On the third goal, Trouba was forced into a turnover that led to an A+ chance in front of the net for Jordan Martinook. The first two mistakes, in particular, are mental errors that can easily be cleaned up. I have faith that Peter Laviolette will have everyone on point for puck drop.

New York Rangers v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Three
Rangers fans have made their presence felt in games at PNC Arena / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Keep calm and carry on

As a diehard Rangers fan I know that it is hard to prevent these unwanted thoughts from creeping up. There has been too much heartbreak to ignore over the years. That said, this team just feels different. They cannot completely shake the tradition of making games/series way more stressful than they need to be, but the 2024 Rangers have dominated in a way we have not seen in a long time. We knew Carolina would be a tough matchup. Before the series started if the fanbase was told that the Rangers would have a 3-2 lead into Game 6, every fan would have signed up for that. Coincidentally, that’s where we stand right now. Deep breaths everyone. The Rangers are the better team and I think they prove that to us tonight.