Rangers Still Searching For Respect

Kopitar and Richards battle for the puck (NHL.com)

Kopitar and Richards battle for the puck (NHL.com)

For the first time in 20 years, the New York Rangers will be playing for the right to lift the Stanley Cup. Ever since that magical season in 1994, the Rangers have been mediocre at best. But, in the past three years, we have seen a sudden shift in the organization, and they can now look nowhere but up as they face off against the Los Angeles Kings in the final playoff series of the 2014 hockey season.

The Kings definitely deserve to be here, without question. They are one of the most dynamic teams in the league, featuring Jonathan Quick between the pipes, a steady defense led by Drew Doughty, and massive depth up front with captain Dustin Brown, deadline-acquisition Marian Gaborik, and center Anze Kopitar. They are also led by one of the most brilliant men in hockey, Darryl Sutter.

The Kings are good, really good, but with the way the media and sports writers have handled it so far, you would think there is only one team in the Final. Some may disagree with me on this and tell me “Just focus on the games, man.” But when I see the Rangers constantly being put down by “analysts”, it gives me a knot in my stomach.

People quickly forget that the Rangers have had quite the journey this campaign. Starting with a horrid nine game road trip in which they went 3-6, and were looking like a last place team heading into December. But since then, the Rangers have been finding ways to win games, and have earned the right to play for the Cup.

They have also dealt with tragic loss. In the midst of their second round series against the Penguins, Martin St. Louis lost his mother, France, in an unexpected passing. Instead of folding and throwing in the towel, Marty decided to visit Montreal for just one day and afterwards he would rejoin his team for the remainder of the playoffs. After being down 3-1 in the series, New York rallied around their teammate like a brother and fought back to win the series in seven, quite unprecedented if you ask me.

Brad Richards has taken on a veteran leadership role, and it seems like he has become quite the voice in the Rangers’ locker room.

Alain Vigneault, when asked about his team’s odds of winning this thing, stated “I like our chances.”

ESPN Expert Picks

ESPN Expert Picks

Writers and TV personalities alike will stick with the Kings throughout the Final, and some may be crazy enough to predict a sweep, something that hasn’t happened since 1998, when the Detroit Red Wings won back-to-back titles.

I am not dissing the Kings by any means, they are a tremendous hockey club who are returning to their second Cup Final in three years. They deserve to be where they are.

But, the Rangers also deserve to be where they are as well, overcoming tremendous adversity to book a spot for Lord Stanley.

The main thing teams look for in this league is to be respected, and the Rangers are getting none of that right now.

New York is definitely the underdog in this series, but people are making this much more one-sided than it appears to be. This a very even matchup, and with Henrik Lundqvist on his game at the moment, the Kings shouldn’t get too comfortable.

The earthquake in LA the other day wasn’t an earthquake, it was the Rangers letting the Kings know that there is more than one team looking for the throne.

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