New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

The reasons for why the New York Rangers losing in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2015 will be more than just a simple defeat.

By Robby Sabo

At this point, we’ve seen so much intestinal fortitude from these New York Rangers that many actually do, in fact, believe.

Last season’s spring was one of straight magic.

Many argue the acquisition of Martin St. Louis was key in their run last season. His mother’s death led to the team’s galvanizing following that tragic event. The Blueshirts came back from a 3-1 series deficit against the game’s best in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Even better, they did it while having to roll through two-road games, and an entire industry not believing it was possible.

It truly felt like magic had occurred.

With a raging young core, only the sky was the limit for the 2014-15 Rangers.

Their Stanley Cup Finals appearance last season was only the precursor for this season, and they sure didn’t disappoint. Finishing with 113 points and 53 wins (both franchise records), New York took home its first Presidents’ Trophy since 1994.

Just a few weeks ago, with two-minutes left in Game 5 of the second-round against the Washington Capitals, it looked as though that Presidents’ Trophy would once again turn out to be a curse, instead of a blessing. Caps goalie Braden Holtby was stunning, stopping everything in his sights.

Alain Vigneault had the rest of his offense had zero answers and couldn’t believe this team was beating them.

Again, though, more miraculous than Tom Brady actually admitting his role in Deflate-Gate, the Rangers snatched victory from the claws of defeat when Chris Kreider slid a harmless one-timer underneath Holtby.

The Rangers, of course, went on to comeback from another 3-1 series deficit (the only team in history to do it in two-consecutive campaigns).

On Sunday night, when all New Yorkers were expecting momentum to carry over from a dominant Game 4, the Rangers yet again could not handle prosperity. They played a flat, uninspired game, falling 2-0 to the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning.

This is where the rub comes to play.

Yes, the Lightning are the opponent. It’s not a nondescript opponent who happen to catch fire at the right time. This is the team who took three players from the recent success of Glen Sather’s team.

Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, and former Rangers captain, Ryan Callahan, are now one-win away from breaking the hearts of their former team.

Stralman is a guy who played alongside Marc Staal during the run last season. He was one of the more underrated and overlooked guys. Now, the Rangers have a shell of who was once Dan Boyle playing in his spot.

Via Twitter, @theScoreNHL
Via Twitter, @theScoreNHL

Boyle is currently making $4.5 million this year on a two-year deal that’ll see him make the same next season. Stralman signed that mega 5-year deal worth $22.5 million – an average of $4.5 million a year, via Spotrac.

St. Louis – another guy who is clearly over the hill at this point – is making $5.625 this season (is last year of a four-year deal). Callahan is bringing in a smooth $34 million over six-seasons. And yes, that averages out to $5.8 million per year.

So, essentially what we have here are two terrible players (St. Louis, Boyle) on the squad, instead of their core in Callahan and Stralman, who are making the same exact money.

The reason both Callahan and Stralman were let go was simple. It was due to the fact Sather was looking ahead.

He simply didn’t want to tie up future monies that would need to be dished out to other guys. Also, the Callahan no-trade clause was a big issue as well.

The rationale behind the moves are evident. At this current time, however, it biting the Rangers in the ass, as their replacements have turned into the weak-links on the team.

There are no two players on the roster worse than St. Louis and Boyle. The game has passed them by, and for two little guys who have always relied on speed, they have no chance to succeed.

To top it off, Henrik Lundqvist is 33-years old, and unless god decides to reverse the effect of aging, he’ll only decline from here. Even worse, is Cam Talbot will be playing for another team after next season.

The goalie situation is yet, another, tough salary-cap decision for Sather to crunch. Money, age, value – they all factor in.

Should the Rangers fail to this Lightning team, it’ll burn more than normal. No, we won’t be watching Carey Price or the Boston Bruins head to the finals. Instead, it’ll be Callahan, Stralman, Brian Boyle and the Tampa Bay Lightning – the three guys who came together in another place to find success.


Our once homegrown, proud captain who will always remain a fan favorite would be heading off to the Stanley Cup Finals, knocking off the very team who didn’t want to go the extra mile in re-signing him. The same guy who Steve Yzerman accepted with open arms.

Sure, St. Louis was there and did help in 2014 en route to the finals, but was that more of anomaly than reality?

The cold-hard fact that Sather brought in the wrong veteran in Dan Boyle, and the truth that St. Louis is now done, is here.

Unless the Rangers have one more spectacular comeback in them – and against a skilled team that doesn’t miss tape when passing or areas when shooting – the 2015 summer will be a long one.

Should Callahan go on to win the Stanley Cup, the next decade will hurt so much more than just getting knocked out of the Eastern Conference Finals by the Lightning one playoff season.

It would be ultra painful.

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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]