No matter the level of talent or calendar year, there’s only one way the Henrik Lundqvist New York Rangers attack the playoffs: gut-wrenching.
It’s uncanny. No. No. Actually, at this point, it’s laughable. Beyond laughable. It’s not the fun type of laughter either. It’s the type that hospitalizes folks.
It’s already been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Henrik Lundqvist New York Rangers take you to the grave before bringing you back, and then ultimately burying you in that aforementioned grave again with an ugly tombstone to boot.
The interesting thing comes when truly thinking about all of these teams and their heart-pounding Stanley Cup Playoff action through these years.
Ironically enough, these words come the morning after a rare Ranger triumph. At Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, the Lundqvist Rangers took care of business against those pesky Ottawa Senators. The final score in unlikely Blueshirt fashion: 4-1.
A balanced attack with working man Tanner Glass reinserted back into the lineup led the way for AV’s Squad (free plug, MSG Network). For the first time in a long time, the Rangers allowed their fans a semi-easy night of clean living.
Why were they able to bounce back so strong? Of course. It comes down to the club’s backs getting forced to stand straight up against that proverbial wall.
Simply losing the first two games of the series wasn’t enough for the Rangers. This team had to fall flat on its face in epic fashion as, in Game 2, the Ottawa club overcame a 5-3 deficit late to take the game in double-OT. Worse yet, a kid who only tallied 12 goals in the regular season, sniped four past Lundqvist on Saturday afternoon (Jean-Gabrial Pageau).
That’s just who these guys are.
For those who practice both MSG sports, there’s only one possibility of comparison when looking to stack the Rangers up against history. The Lundqvist Rangers are the equivalent of the Patrick Ewing New York Knicks.
During the 1990s, no NBA team as close to winning a title than the Knicks. Stopped by Michael Jordan too many times to count, not even his shocking retirement could get them over the hump (John Starks 2-18 from the field).
At the same time, there wasn’t another basketball squad who could match the Knickerbockers pure unadulterated excitement. From Larry Johnson‘s 4-point play to Patrick Ewings ’95 finger roll special, these guys were simply born for the theatrics.
The MSG hockey team of current times are cut from the exact same cloth.
Since the 2007 spring, the Rangers have participated in 121 playoff games. Of those 121, a remarkable 68 have been one-goal games. More amazing is the fact that 25 more games were decided by two goals. Only 28 of those 121 games finished with a final score of a three-goal or more difference.
This means you’ve encountered the Rangers or the opponent handily defeat the other only 23 percent of the time.
If you take out the poor showing against the eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins a year ago, you’ll find that the Blueshirts will play a one-goal game almost 60 percent of the time.
Additionally, of those 121 total games, 29 have gone into overtime.
Don’t forget about the fashion in which the Rangers navigate through series. It seems as though they never truly get going until they’ve been buried. Last round was a perfect case in point.
First, they surrender a last minute goal with Nick Holden desperately looking to defend the crease without a stick. Then, they lose the game in overtime. After watching the team play like it was on life support in Game 3, they rallied to beat the Montreal Canadiens three straight times to close out the series.
After Game 3 saw New York lose its sixth straight at Madison Square Garden, very few thought they still had a chance.
How about both 3-1 comebacks in consecutive seasons?
First, they used a little Martin St. Louis magic against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2014 and then saw a Chris Kreider goal sneak in and Derek Stepan finally cap it against the Washington Capitals in 2015.
This team just doesn’t give their fans a break.
If you believe it’ll be smooth sailing from here, as it pertains to the Senators series, you just haven’t been a Rangers fan for that long. It’ll be rough, nerve-wracking and tough to deal with. If you’re a diehard you already understand. And if you’re a diehard fan, you already understood that after Pageau’s fourth goal this past weekend, the Rangers still weren’t dead in the water.
When it comes to the Henrik Lundqvist New York Rangers, terms such as gut-wrenching, heart-pounding and epic are just soaked into their DNA.
As fans, it kills us. But as a team, they wouldn’t have it any other way.