The New York Rangers are heading in a new direction this year, leaving us time to reflect on the last 13 years.
The idea of the New York Rangers going through a rebuild or a retooling phase is one that most fans did not anticipate this season.
General manager Jeff Gorton and team president Glen Sather confirmed that the team was going in a new direction. A direction the team has not gone in since Henrik Lundqvist made his debut in 2005. The Rangers have only missed the playoffs once since.
Injuries, poor coaching, and inconsistent play have resulted in the Blueshirts falling outside the playoff picture and into this new direction. This marks the end of an era for the Rangers, one that no one can forget.
The last 13 seasons have brought plenty of memories which are ranked below. Rankings are based on a number of things including impact, surprise level, and personal preference.
10. A King is Born
Henrik Lundqvist is the New York Rangers. Not many thought that would be the case when the Blueshirts drafted him in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.
That pick would be a franchise-changing pick as Lundqvist has led the Rangers to the playoffs in 11 out of 12 seasons. In those runs, he led the Blueshirts to three Eastern Conference Finals appearance and a Stanley Cup Finals appearance. He has yet to win it all, but without him, the Rangers could not have made those runs.
9. Franchise-Altering Trade Deadline
The lockout-shortened season brought great change to the Rangers. After acquiring Rick Nash in the offseason, the team never seemed to develop any chemistry. At the trade deadline, the Rangers and Blue Jackets would make a blockbuster trade headlined by Marion Gaborik.
In that Gaborik trade, the Rangers would acquire Derick Brassard, John Moore, and Derek Dorsett. On top of acquiring those three players, the Rangers also acquired Ryan Clowe in a separate trade with San Jose. Brassard, Moore, and Clowe all impressed in their Rangers debut as the team beat the Penguins 6-1. They wouldn’t fare well in the playoffs, but the foundation for what the next two seasons saw was developed by these deals.
8. Cam Talbot Saves the Season
Following an injury to Lundqvist in the 2014-15 season, the season looked to be lost. But Cam Talbot wouldn’t let that be the case as he rose up to save the Rangers season.
Talbot would go on to win 21 games for the Rangers including leading the team to their first President’s Trophy since 1994. During that run, Talbot put up some of the best numbers of his career posting a 2.21 goals-against-average. He was also the recipient of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award.
7. Line Brawl Against New Jersey
The 2011-12 Rangers were a completely different team compared to today’s squad.
No one on this Rangers team would let the opposition bully them. They were a team that was never intimidated and wanted to intimidate others. At the time, head coach John Tortorella was not happy with the lineup that Devils coach Peter DeBoer started with. As a result, Tortorella started his grinders and all hell broke loose.
6. Impossible Win Against the Islanders
(Feb. 16, 2015)
If you want to talk about a game that you will always remember, this is one of them. The Rangers found themselves trailing 2-0 after a poor start. They trailed by two goals two separate times but showed why this team was so great.
Sometimes coaches will say we got the two points and that’s all that matters. That explains this game in a nutshell. It wasn’t pretty, as a matter of fact, it was petty ugly. But with this team it didn’t matter because they always found a way to get it done, this game being another example of that.
5. Martin St. Louis‘ Emotional Playoffs
(Stanley Cup Playoffs 2014)
The Rangers acquired Martin St. Louis from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline in the 2013-14 season in exchange for captain Ryan Callahan, hoping that St. Louis would give them the boost they were missing. He did.
With the Rangers trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, news broke that St. Louis’ mother had died. Whether or not he would play, but he did. His goal on Mother’s Day brought those watching chills. It had fans thinking that they can come back from this big hole.
The team and fan base rallied around St. Louis which led to one of the best moments in the last 13 years that we will talk about later.
4. Takeover at Yankee Stadium
(Jan. 26, 2014 and Jan. 29, 2014)
The Rangers played two games at Yankee Stadium during the 2014 NHL Stadium Series. The two games were against longtime rivals, the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.
Both games, the Rangers found themselves trailing. However, they rallied in both games coming up with two huge wins on the big stage. Just like the games played indoors against the Devils and Islanders, there was plenty of emotion and physicality resulting in great hockey.
3. Comeback Against Pittsburgh
(Eastern Conference Semi-Finals 2014)
Being down 3-1 against a red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins team, the chances of coming back and winning the series seemed impossible. Not for this team.
Rallying around Martin St. Louis, the Rangers did the unthinkable. They won three straight games after looking lifeless in the previous three. Pittsburgh turned from a team that was dominating to looking like a deer in headlights. This was just one of the many great moments from that season.
2. They Did It Again!
(Eastern Conference Semi-Finals 2015)
A common theme that the Rangers have shown the last 13 years is that nothing is ever easy. For the second year in a row, they found themselves down 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Somehow they managed to win both of those series.
After setting Ryan McDonagh for the overtime game-winning goal in Game 5, Derek Stepan brought the Rangers to their second straight Eastern Conference Finals. Stepan found himself in the right place at the same time. That goal still resonates with so many fans. It serves as one of those “I remember where I was when Stepan scored that goal” moments.
1. The Save that Brought the Rangers to the Finals
(Eastern Conference Finals Game 6 2014)
Henrik Lundqvist has made some great saves in his career, but this might be his most important. The Rangers and Canadiens were scoreless in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Sniper Thomas Vanek came down the left side and Lundqvist made a twirling blocker save keeping the game knotted at zero.
Only one goal would be scored in that game, by Dominick Moore. The Rangers would go onto their first Stanley Cup Finals in 20 years, and without this save it wouldn’t have been possible.