Rangers captain dismisses ‘noise’ that Hurricanes are favored to win

NHL: New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers won the 2023-24 Presidents’ Trophy after posting a 55 win and 114 point season. However, all year they’ve been behind the Carolina Hurricanes by oddsmakers to win the Stanley Cup. So no one should be shocked that they’re considered the underdog in their Eastern Conference Second Round matchup against them, despite having home-ice advantage.

Are the Rangers concerned? According to captain Jacob Trouba, not one bit.

“I don’t think anybody in here really cares too much about the outside noise and all that chatter,” Trouba stated. “We believe in ourselves in here. I think we know what’s ahead of us. It’s going to be a long hard-fought series, and that’s what we are preparing for.”

To a man in the Rangers dressing room, the sentiments are the same. Defenseman Ryan Lindgren was asked his thoughts about Carolina coming in favored to win the series.

“I don’t look into that at all,” Lindgren responded. “We just worry about Game 1 and not who is the underdog or anything like that.”

Related: 1st place Rangers open as underdogs against 2nd place Hurricanes

Rangers dismiss underdog noise

NHL: New York Rangers at Columbus Blue Jackets
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

After dispatching the Washington Capitals in just four games, the Rangers were the first team to advance and have been off since Sunday. Head coach Peter Laviolette rewarded them with two days off to rest and they got back to work on Wednesday.

“It’s a chance for them to get away from it for a second and let their bodies heal up,” Laviolette noted. “Today was the beginning of the stretch we will use to prepare for the next opponent which we found out [on Tuesday]. So today in practice, there’s things you do to gear towards that team. There’s the speed part of it, the compete part of it, and the systems part of it, and we have a certain amount of time to check all those boxes to be ready for Game 1.”

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes had a little more trouble with the New York Islanders than anticipated. Even though they won it in five games, the Islanders blew a 3-0 lead in Game 2, and imploded in a tie game late in the third period of Game 5.

Of course, this is a new series that starts at 0-0 and whatever happened in the past is meaningless. For the Blueshirts, it will be about slowing down an aggressive Hurricanes squad.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re playing the game we want to play,” Laviolette said. “We know it’s going to be fast. We know it’s going to be competitive. That’s when we’re at our best and that’s when they’re at their best as well — they’re on the attack, checking forward, pressing, pressing, pressing. We have to be ready for that. We have to be ready from a speed standpoint and a compete standpoint.”

The NHL has yet to announce the schedule for the second round, but when they do, you can bet both teams will be ready. Although, the records are wiped clean before Game 1, the Rangers can rely on what they did up to this point. Former Rangers captain and current MSG radio analyst Dave Maloney gave his unique insights to Forever Blueshirts on Wednesday as to why this year’s club is special.

“This is my 19th season doing this,” Maloney explained. “I think this might be the one team that from the get-go was built to know who they were. Shift to shift, period to period, game to game, they spent very little time looking back or looking ahead and Laviolette set that table.”

In the end, the fact that the Rangers are considered underdogs may be a blessing. Sure they don’t care about it, but a little extra motivation at this time of the year certainly doesn’t hurt.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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