Stanley Cup Run? What the Rangers Need To Make It Happen
Well firstly they have to get in the playoffs, especially if we’d like to hear/see this again:
[su_youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wzq2AhbXSeY”]Game Seven Highlights – [/su_youtube]
(Chills every single time.)
Coming into tonight’s play against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Rangers have 12 games remaining. They currently sit 8th in the Eastern Conference with 78 points. Although you may look at the standings and say “8th? They have no shot, the Kings just got lucky, blah blah blah.” Well only 8 points separates the 3rd place Tampa Bay Lightning (85 points) and the 10th place Washington Capitals (77 points), so the Blueshirts only sit 7 points out of 3rd place in the Conference.
Long ROAD Ahead
It’ll be no easy finish to the year for the Red, White & Blue. They only play 5 games at home versus 7 on the road. Some may look at this as a blessing in disguise considering the The Rangers have been one of the better road teams in the league this season posting a 21-13-0 record whilst in the other teams barn. Their future opponents combined record is 382-351-106. This also will include 4 Division games (@ Columbus, @ New Jersey, vs. Philly, vs. Carolina), basically 16 point games when you look at each game as a 4 point game.
Getting in the Show
(Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
I think it’ll take somewhere around 95-96 points to be up around the 4-6 seed. A place I feel like the Rangers would fit in comfortably & can easily get to with teams like Edmonton, Calgary & Buffalo also left to play against. And just like every year, they’ll look to ride on the back of “The King” Henrik Lundqvist. But just at the ’11-’12 LA Kings proved, anything can happen. If there’s 3 teams the Rangers probably wouldn’t want to face in the first round of the playoffs it would be Boston, Montreal or ….. (wait for it) Detroit (Although they’re not in right now, if they get in & get healthy, look out). I think the Rangers could hold their own against any other opponent in this Conference.
Where is Home?
Something the Rangers are going to have to figure out. Being .500 at home will not get you far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Yes they are a good road team, but when it comes to playoff hockey & a road playoff atmosphere the stage is bigger and the lights are brighter, the Arena is sold out and the majority of fans are there for the home team, road wins wont come easy. In the last 4 post-seasons the NYR are 11-7 at home, while only mustering a 5-14 record while on the road.
You Need to Score Goals to Win
Seriously, when it comes to big moments, Henrik Lundqvist is usually stellar. But he can only do so much for you. Each of the past few years, the Rangers have struggled when its comes to scoring goals in the offseason. Something they’ve tried to address through trade & free agency but it hasn’t quite clicked yet. We’ve had Marian Gaborik put on his best Casper the friendly Ghost impression a few times. We’ve had Rick Nash last year who only mustered 1 goal in the entire 2 rounds of playoff action that the Rangers got (12 games), although it was later announced he, among a few other players (Hagelin, Callahan) had been trying to play through injuries. But regardless sometimes that’s the hand your dealt, and to win a Stanley Cup you need to find ways to put pucks in the back of the net. On paper the Rangers might have one of the top 3 lines in the NHL, if not they’re definitely up there. The Veteran leadership that Martin St. Louis brings should also help, he seems to step up when the stage gets bigger. Another key factor? You can’t wear yourselves out, if they wanna go deep they’re gonna have to win at least ONE series in 5 games or less. When you go 7 games constantly in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s a recipe for disaster, so they need to help themselves by winning games early and often.
Simple, Smart Hockey
Last but not least, when you look at the past 5 Stanley Cups, Chicago x2, Los Angeles, Boston and Pittsburgh you realized one thing they played a simple game in the playoffs. Sure, they all had flashy players and star-studded offenses but even those guys like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brad Marchand, Davis Krejic, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin played a simple and smart game when the puck was on their sticks. Everyone has a role to play in the playoffs, and you play it 1 shift at a time. You can’t shoot yourself in the foot but trying to force plays and being the cause for a turnover and odd-man rush back towards your goalie.
With the Rangers being in the Eastern Conference I believe there’s an 80% chance they’re going to have to go through the Boston Bruins, one of the most well-rounded teams in the league. They’re down right tough to play against in every facet of the ice. Best-believe that if they do match up against Boston, last years memories of getting thrown around like a red-headed step child will add some fuel to the fire & a little giddy-up in their game.
I Believe the Rangers can make a run at Lord Stanley’s Cup, do you?