Through the era of Henrik Lundqvist‘s New York Rangers, one thing is certain during the Stanley Cup Playoffs: don’t fall into the trap.
The New York Rangers second round Stanley Cup Playoffs opponent, the Ottawa Senators, are pretty transparent in their on-ice actions. Head coach Guy Boucher is cut from the defensive cloth, one that sees the club attack with a fury of forechecking early, only to then sit back with the lead and rely on that dreaded neutral zone trap.
That dreaded “trap,” one similar to what the Blueshirts had to deal with against their Hudson River rivals in the New Jersey Devils decades ago, is still hanging around the NHL in a new slightly modified form.
While the Sens couldn’t lay back until late in the third period, after Erik Karlsson‘s seeing-eye goal that squeezed past Henrik Lundqvist, this isn’t the trap we use this particular space of the internet for today.
The “trap” we’re referencing today is the Rangers trap — that dreaded Stanley Cup Playoffs trap they force their fans to suffer through every spring.
There isn’t a more tournament-tested American professional sports team who hasn’t captured the world championship than the New York Rangers. Think about it.
The only other teams in the NHL who compare with the number of playoff games played over the last five to 10 years are the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings. Those three teams possess multiples Stanley Cups.
In the NFL, there isn’t a squad whose yearly disappointments during tournament time equal the Rangers. The New England Patriots, obviously, showcase several pieces of hardware. Same goes for the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, who each has one trophy apiece.
In the NBA, forget about it. There isn’t any team who fits the mold of the Rangers, a team who’s reached the highest of levels year after year, only to never capture the end goal.
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The drama, the incredible ebbs and flows of emotion from game to game in any playoff round is something Rangers fans have experienced far more than the average franchise. Therefore, it’s important to remember to never fall into that “trap” they seemingly always place you in around this time of year.
For a diehard fan, it’s a tough thing to avoid.
Watching the Game 1 loss to the Ottawa Senators brought on agita fit for your grandfather. Yes, New York, after spending several days away from game action, reverted back into their loose defensive ways. This was especially the case in the first period when Lundqvist had to literally stand on his head to keep it a scoreless contest.
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Honestly, though, it’s nothing compared to the depths this team fell to in Game 3 of the Montreal Canadiens series.
Literally booed off the Madison Square Garden, the Rangers couldn’t even sniff the offensive zone, ultimately getting shutout and falling down 2-1 in the series. No playoff team could look any worse.
And yet, they rose to the occasion in winning the next three games.
How about two seasons ago? Coming into the playoffs as the top team in the land, in Game 5 of the second-round matchup against Alex Ovechkin and the rising Washington Capitals, MSG was a morgue. Nothing good was happening and it looked as though they were on their way out in five games.
That was, until, a harmless Chris Kreider shot found its way to the back of the net:
How did it happen? Who the hell knows.
We all know what came next, two games later:
This is just who they are. Part in thanks to the hockey playoff system that usually sees the more desperate team come out flying, the Rangers around this time simply showcase this idea to the highest degree.
With Game 2 of the series set for 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, stay strong. There’s no reason to yet become panicked. Sit back, relax and at least try to enjoy some hockey.
While, absolutely, there were many troublesome aspects to Game 1 nobody liked to see, these are the Lundqvist Rangers, the team who never fails to disappointment from a drama standpoint.