MSL, The Missing Stanley Cup Piece
The New York Rangers acquired probable Hall of Famer, Martin St. Louis at the 2014 Trade Deadline. It was the first time in NHL History that a Captain for Captain trade was executed, when the Rangers sent over Ryan Callahan for the little dynamo from Tampa.
Many people, including Marty, expected the winger to step right into the lineup and produce big time for the Rangers. It didn’t work out as planned, since he only managed 8 points in 19 games. Maybe it was a matter of him pressing, trying to hard to help. Maybe it was him not being able to get comfortable with new linemates. Nevertheless, he found a home on the Rangers top line with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan when rookie winger, Chris Kreider went out with injury. The points may not have come playing with those 2, but his production increased, and he helped the Rangers solidify the number 2 seed of the Metropolitan Division.
Finding his Rhythm
Then the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs came rolling around and it appears to be working. It’s been 2 years since the 38 year old forward has been in the playoffs, but he looks like he hasn’t lost a step for the big stage.
For his career, Marty has always been a great playoff performer, registering 74 points in 65 Playoff games. You can also add a Stanley Cup to his resume, when he helped his 03′-04′ Tampa Bay Lightning win the NHL’s most coveted prize.
This post season he has 6 points in 5 games, and it could’ve been 7 had referee Justin St. Pierre not lost sight of a lose puck sitting in the crease that MSL tapped into the empty cage. But nonetheless he’s producing and its helping the Rangers to victories.
Is St. Louis the Missing Piece?
It’s been pretty well documented over the past few seasons that Glen Sather’s ultimate goal was to bring a Stanley Cup, back to the City of New York. It’s been 20 long years since Mark Messier hoisted the Stanley Cup for all the Garden to see. The Rangers GM has spent the last 14 years trying to find the right pieces to get it done.
He’s gone out and brought in big names like Marian Gaborik (now with the LA Kings), Brad Richards, Rick Nash, and now St. Louis. Many thought the Rangers best chance to get to the Cup Finals was in the 2012 post season, but they eventually lost to the New Jersey Devils in 6 Games of the Eastern Conference Final. The belief was they didn’t have enough offense so in came Nash who made the Rangers a Cup favorite in the lockout season of 2013. The Rangers never clicked and they were again knocked out of the playoffs by the Boston Bruins in 5 games of the Eastern Conference Semi Finals. The season cost Gaborik his Ranger career and the playoffs, coach Tortorella his job.
Fast forward to today, The Rangers are still in a win-now mode and they aren’t getting any younger. Martin St. Louis might very well be the missing piece the Rangers have been longing for, for the last 4-5 years. The savvy veteran knows what it takes to win a championship, and more importantly, knows how to get it done. St. Louis can also help with the younger guys, as praise for the 38 year old in the locker room has come to light. And lets face it, you don’t get nominated for the Lady Byng Trophy, for being full of yourself and immature.
New York with St. Louis producing, can take some of the weight off of the shoulders of guys like Rick Nash and Brad Richards, players the Rangers heavily relied on last season, thus making them “press” like MSL did in his arrival to New York.
The real question is, can he keep up his pace in these Playoffs, or will he too eventually buckle under the bright lights of New York, on the NHL’s biggest stage? Will he help bring, what many Rangers fans would love to see again, to the Big Apple? For Marty St. Louis, it’s all about the Stanley Cup.
13 more wins, that’s all the Rangers need. It won’t be easy, but with a veteran guy like Martin St. Louis around, it could be a little easier.