I don’t know who scored, and I don’t care who scored. All that matters is he was wearing a red sweater, it was overtime, and my New York Rangers have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup tournament. The finals are next for some folks, but not me; the NHL season is over. My Rangers are out.
After a long, hard-knock season that began in Europe and ended in the swamps of the Garden State; after winning the Winter Classic and featuring on HBO’s 24/7; after my brother and I went to dozen of home games at MSG and sang the goal song in the balmy humidity of Indian summer and the frigid depths of a cold, virtually snowless winter; after all that, it’s all over.
If I try to look at it objectively, it’s fitting that the Rangers fell just short of the finals; they fell just short of the President’s Trophy, too. But the team also excelled all season, playing above their heads and securing the No. 1 seed in a very, very tough Eastern Conference.
The Rangers played the best they could, but the lack of scoring punch was their undoing. Blocking shots and great goaltending can only carry a team so far. You cannot win a 0-0 game. At some point, someone has got to score. Some has to put the biscuit in the basket. A lack of firepower was their Achilles’ heel, just as it has been for years (decades) now. But there is hope in young Chris Kreider, whose 5 goals were the most ever in postseason by a rookie who’s never played a minute of regular-season hockey. At this juncture, Kreider seems to have that nose for the net that all great snipers are simply born with. Let’s hope he pans out.
I’m really too grief-stricken to organize my thoughts very well, but I will say the Rangers are a very young team, and they have a bright future ahead. The experience points that these youngsters have picked up by playing two game sevens as well as several overtime games are invaluable. This past season, and the long drive into the postseason, bode well for the future.
You gave us fans a lot of thrills, Rangers, and for that we are grateful. You all – every one of you, from the guys who were on the ice for every faceoff to the one-game call-ups, to the coaches and equipment managers – deserve the Broadway Hat for this season.