Blueshirts Aim To Tame Wild, Wild West

Kevin Klein checks Dustin Brown (getty)

Kevin Klein checks Dustin Brown (getty)

Yes, we all remember what happened when the Eastern Conference champion Rangers went up against the mighty Western Conference champion Los Angeles Kings in last June’s Stanley Cup finals. The Blueshirts came away with only a single victory in the five-game series that saw the Kings celebrate their second Cup title in three years.

Just another example of how the mighty Western Conference has dominated the Blueshirts and the rest of the Eastern Conference recently, right? Not so fast.

While nothing makes up for the five-game finals loss to the Kings, a closer look at last season’s regular-season record finds that the boys from Broadway actually had a winning record against the left coast. In 28 games against the West, the Blueshirts finished with a 14-13-1 record, including an 8-5-1 mark against the Central Division.

Henrik Lundqvist stops San Jose (Getty)

Henrik Lundqvist stops San Jose (Getty)

Where the trouble rested was with the power-packed Pacific Division, where the Blueshirts struggled to a humbling 6-8 record against the likes of the Kings, Ducks, Sharks, and the rest of the division. But don’t forget, the Rangers began last season with a nine-game road trip that saw them start 1-4 against Western Conference teams.

So what will this season bring against the best of the West? So far, so good. The Rangers are unbeaten in two games against Western Conference foes, having skated past the St. Louis Blues on opening night before routing the San Jose Sharks on home ice last weekend.

And while games against Eastern Conference opponents during the regular season obviously hold more weight (in the standings), standing toe to toe against the mighty Western Conference can go a long way toward boosting a team’s confidence, especially if those wins come on a long road trip where they start everything three hours later (right, Geno Smith?)

Next test against the West? How about three games against the surging Wild, the Winnipeg Jets and a rematch with the Blues as the front end of a four-game homestand starting on Monday?

You never know. If things fall right, perhaps another successful regular season against the mighty Western Conference could carry over into the postseason this time around. Did somebody say (are you listening, Larry Brooks?) a return trip to the Stanley Cup finals?

Only time (preferably EST) that is…will tell.

Starting tonight against the Minnesota Wild, the Rangers will play 5 of their next 8 versus Western Conference opponents. Here’s a snapshot via ESPN:

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