Rangers emerge tougher after facing playoff adversity

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

After the New York Rangers swept the Washington Capitals in four games in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and got off to a 3-0 series lead against the Carolina Hurricanes in Round 2, they were finally hit with some adversity. It is this type of stretch that helped create a tougher Rangers team heading into the Eastern Conference Final.

One can argue that the Rangers actually needed to lose some games, be somewhat uncomfortable in this postseason after their 7-0 start. It was good for them.

Losing two straight, and staring at a 3-1 deficit after two periods on the road in Game 6 against the Hurricanes, the Rangers found an extra gear to battle back. How they responded to this low point in the playoff run could be viewed as a major building block for the rest of the playoffs.

“I think in the course of the playoffs, you’re going to find your team with some highs, and you’re going to find your team with some lows,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette explained. “You have to figure out how to move on from those highs, and you have to figure out how to move on from those lows.”

The low point in the Carolina series will prove to be more beneficial going forward, now that the Rangers have gotten past it. There will be times in the coming round where New York will be put to the test. It is not going to be a four-game sweep like the first round was. When these tough times arise, they will call back to the Carolina series, and recall how they dealt with the adversity.

“All of it, I think, in a longer run and a bigger picture, it puts some scars on you that I think make you tougher,” Laviolette stated. “Like on the power play, it was naïve to think that you’re going to score two or three goals every single game. It’s naïve to think that we would win every game.”

Related: Rangers captain says Chris Kreider ‘could’ve had someone else’ pick up hats on lawn

Rangers ‘little bit tougher’ after Round 2 adversity

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

What is most important to any successful team in the playoffs is not avoiding the lows, but how the team responds to them. For the Rangers, it was how they came out in the third period of Game 6, refusing to let Carolina force a coin-flip Game 7. It was Chris Kreider willing his team to victory by scoring a natural hat trick in the third period, doing his best Mark Messier impression.

Moments like this are what makes a successful playoff team. In this upcoming series against the Florida Panthers, there will be highs and lows. The team that can respond to the lows better, will usually be the one with the best chance of winning. And that’s responding not only game to game, but within games. Handling momentum swings is crucial in the postseason.

“It’s what you do after you don’t have the success that you’re looking for, and how you respond to things, that I think makes you a little bit tougher,” Laviolette said. “It gives you what you need to continue to keep going, put you in situations down the road where you can recall and rely on the things that you know you’ve done already. The situations that you’ve been in, they just make you a little bit tougher.”

Toughness is certainly what the Rangers are going to need against the Panthers, both physically and mentally. Facing one of the most physical teams in the NHL, it will be a grind for New York. It sets up to be a long, hard-fought series, meaning that the Rangers will need to manage the highs and the lows that are seemingly inevitable.

Pinned as the underdogs once again, the Rangers enter the Eastern Conference Final a more battle-tested team than they were prior to the second round.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

Mentioned in this article:

More About: