Artistic and thematic differences of opinion notwithstanding, it’s going to be hard to deal with anything other than seeing the C*p lifted over MSG ice by a Ranger. It’s going to be hard to close out another NHL season with anything less than a parade through the Canyon of Heroes.

Ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, it’s going to be hard walking up that sidewalk toward Chambers St, along the western edge of the Avenue of the Americas on a cold, wet, miserable New York afternoon to look down and NOT see a shiny, foot-worn steel block embedded therein, proclaiming “2015-16 New York Rangers – Stanley Cup Champions.”

That one might hurt the most because it will open up some deep, deep wounds from many springs ago. That’s how it is for us. How it has been.

We’ve seen this team make a barebones, balls-out run through the obstacles, pitfalls and chicanery of these playoffs before. We’ve suffered through watching the hockey gods deal a horrible river card in an unsightly and lopsided defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings.

We’ve seen them limp into an Eastern Conference at-home Game Seven against the Tampa Bay Lightning and cast our hearts with Mr. Game Seven – Henrik Lundqvist – only to witness the flattest, most uninspiring, unimpressive Game Seven in the history of critical sports moments.

We’ve seen the upstart peasant gremlins from across the river bury Ranger Killer Adam Henrique in a steaming wet pile of jubilation after losing a previous ECF on an OT goal.

In New York – easily one of the most “show or go” places on the planet – it’s time for this team to show up when it counts. I appreciate Keith Yandle‘s touching vignette about becoming a Ranger, published yesterday in the Player’s Tribune. It was nice hearing about how it’s time to “go to work.” (Well, Keith… WTF else have you guys been pretending to do for the past seven months?) I also like a nice t-shirt as much as the next guy, but I hate being sold nonsense, being mollified, handing over good money for something I know is going to break when I need it the most. It makes me and other fans like me look and feel foolish. And the feeling doesn’t go away. It never does.

Years from now, I will dread that walk up to Chambers St. if that patch of pavement remains bereft of what belongs there. It’ll kil me knowing that I’m basically a numbskull for continuing to love my team as I half hum, half mumble to myself:

“‘Cause I know you’re no good for me, but you’ve become a part of me.”

There is no longer any squish room for these Rangers. Fans are tired of the “we’ll get em next time” pablum that slides all too easily out of AV’s mouth. We’re inured to Ryan McDonagh‘s earnest and well-meaning American boy face, awash in camera lights, beckoning us to understand that they “played hard, made some good plays, but the puck just didn’t bounce [their] way tonight.” We don’t care how many times Lundqvist loses the shampoo bottle from his magical utility belt and flips the net over it. Looks great, but it’s not good enough.

Plenty of people are questioning whether this team, however, is.

No more bullsh*t, boys. No more excuses, shoulder shrugs and no more running away from the spotlight. In New York, it finds you.

Nowhere for this team to run to anymore.

Nowhere to hide.

NEXT: New York Rangers-Pittsburgh Penguins Division Semi-Final Series Preview

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