Are the Rangers experiencing a post Olympics-Stanley Cup hangover?

As always, the greatest moment in sports (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The pain still remains. (Getty Images)

The pain still remains. (Getty Images)

After a nine-game road trip early in the 2013-14 season where the New York Rangers started 3-6-0, if someone would have said they are making the Stanley Cup Final, think back to what you would have said. Well, as it turned out, you were actually the crazy one when all was said and done, because that is exactly what the Blueshirts did. And in a series that was a lot closer than the final count would indicate, overall the year was considered a success.

They rode the momentum of a second half surge and took it all the way into the final round of the playoffs. It was a pretty crazy run and the Rangers could have been up 2-0 in the series after games one and two were there for the taking but after some faulty defense and costly mistakes, the Rangers would end up losing the series in five games.

Lundqvist dejected in Finals (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Lundqvist dejected in Finals (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

That left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, as goaltender Henrik Lundqvist sat at his locker for several minutes after the game with his head in his hands, trying to take in the disappointment and figure out where everything went wrong. The team claims to have gotten over it and their focus is on this season to rekindle the magic they put together in the last campaign. But did they truly get over it?

Website Sports Interaction researched the after effects on the last four National Hockey League finalists and almost all suffer a let down the next season. To make matters worse, the dip is even bigger after an Olympic year.

Stanley Cup champs in Olympic years can expect to drop an average of 13.75 points the next year, where the league average for Cup champs was just -6.69 points.

The results were even worse for teams that scratched and clawed all the way to the Stanley Cup finals only to lose. Those teams had an average of 15 fewer points in seasons immediately following an Olympic year whereas the league average for runners-up was just -7.81.

The “Stanley Cup hangover” is an actual thing. It happens to every team whether they have won or lost. The winning side is still riding the euphoria of lifting the trophy and they cannot really get a grip on reality in the following season. The losing side tries to figure out how to fix their mistakes and they end up thinking about the negatives too much, straying from what made them successful in the first place.

It certainly seems like the Rangers have a bit of a hangover as this season we have seen inconsistent play, multiple goal leads being lost and blown defensive coverage. Ironically, these are some of the same problems which arose last year prior to the standings surge. The Rangers eventually got their groove working in early January but they are going to need to find that groove again if they wish to capture the trophy that they came so close to lifting.

Mats Zuccarello (Getty)

Mats Zuccarello (Getty)

Forward Mats Zuccarello, who spoke with Norwegian media several days ago, explained how it was tough to go from playing in the big series back to playing regular games and also said it was a tough transition for his teammates as well. Zuccarello further commented that it was tough to forget about the defeat when pictures of the Los Angeles Kings were being shown on media channels throughout North America.

For the Rangers, granted they all share in Zuccarello’s disappointment (as they should), they need to turn that into motivation. Everyone understands and rationalizes how tough it can be for anyone to be that close and lose but they should be angry too. They should want to prove to themselves and the league that they were worthy combatants and a good representation of the Eastern conference.

With all the talent this team has there is little question they are more than capable of climbing the ladder in the standings yet again. They just need to hit their stride.

The time is now to get it going. A four game road trip will be a test for the Rangers. After a 4-3 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, they look to build off of that and gain some points and momentum as they begin a three game road trip to western Canada followed by a return to the United States to close things out in Carolina. They need points now, because an 8-15 point drop off from last year could mean no playoffs and no shot at redemption.

With all the talent this team has there is little question they are more than capable of climbing the ladder in the standings yet again. They just need to hit their stride.

Soon.

Infograph cosy of Sports Interaction

Infograph cosy of Sports Interaction