The playoff games against the Penguins represented an annual rite of passage for the middle of the last decade. These were the lettuce days of Alain Vigneault’s tenure behind the bench when the blueshirts enjoyed their greatest success since the mid-’90s.
That mini-era, in which Rangers reached the Cup Finals in 2014 and won the Presidents’ Trophy a year later with the NHL’s best record before losing the Conference Finals in seven games in 2015, marked the culmination of the rebuild begun a decade earlier under general manager Glen Sather and was managed behind the bench by Tom Renney, then John Tortorella and then Vigneault.
Rangers qualified for the playoffs 11 times in the first 12 years of the hard cap era — the Henrik Lundqvist era — that began with the 2005-06 season. In the four years from 2012 to 2015, in which they competed in 76 postseason competitions, they progressed past the first round seven times and made the conference finals three times.
There were different versions of this group, the black-and-blueshirts under Tortorella, which evolved into Vigneault’s multidimensional teams, in which Lundqvist was the common denominator. By definition, the Rangers were flawed and failed to win the trophy, despite being the only team in NHL history to overcome 3-1 series deficits in consecutive years, going 15-4 in elimination games in those four highlighted years.
But you pretty much knew what you were going to get from these teams. They were a big game team with players who reacted and went 6-0 in Game 7… until they ultimately didn’t react and until they were home locked out by the Lightning in Game 7 in 2015 (after being locked out at home) . in game 5).
These Rangers had been through pretty much everything, starting in 2012 when they had to come back with Game 6 in a particularly awkward first round after a 3-2 draw with Ottawa. It was in this series that Chris Kreider made his NHL debut less than two weeks after he was part of Boston College’s Frozen Four NCAA championship.
Kreider, who occupied the line-up spot opened for Game 3 after Carl Hagelin was suspended from Daniel Alfredsson’s elbow with a concussion, grew with the team. He’s been through everything. He was a key part of the team that defeated the Penguins in seven games in 2014, defeated them in five a year later, and was eliminated in five games in 2016.
Those were the days before the NHL restricted media access to the locker room, a policy that was understandably introduced in the wake of the pandemic but remains in effect for no other logical reason than to limit access and control the message. If the MLB can open clubhouses to vaccinated and boosted media, the NHL can open locker rooms.
Back then, you could get a sense of how teams felt about themselves. Well, not so much. It would have been interesting to be able to try and get a pulse of that group ahead of this first-round series against the Penguins, which opens Tuesday at the Garden in the Blueshirts’ first playoff game in five years, but now there’s only faith in those Comments from other – and interested parties.
Vigneault’s Rangers were cool, calm and confident after years of trial (and error), Gerard Gallant’s side haven’t gone through any of that. Mika Zibanejad, who featured in the 2017 playoffs where the team beat Montreal in the first round before being ousted by Ottawa in the second round, is the only other player on the roster who has playoff experience while he is a wearing ranger uniform. There is no precedent to rely on or smash for this team.
But Kreider, who has a Ph clubs
“It’s hard to say. It feels like it’s been a long time and I was in a different position, as a young man on this team and I was just afraid not to step on eggshells,” No. 20 said before “But I think regardless of whether a team has been in the playoffs multiple years in a row, is a veteran or is young, there’s always excitement at this time of year.
“There’s always butterflies and the guys are just excited to come onto the rink and they’re excited to compete and play.”
Okay, there are similarities off the ice. Now we will learn if there are similarities on the ice. But wait, there’s a hypothetical dissimilarity that would be unanimously accepted. That would be winning the Stanley Cup.
https://nypost.com/2022/05/03/were-about-to-find-out-what-rangers-are-made-of-in-nhl-playoffs/ We’re about to find out what makes up Rangers in the NHL playoffs