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An original six franchise that makes its home in the heart of Manhattan, the New York Rangers are a force to be reckoned with in the talented Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference. The Rangers have four Stanley Cup titles to their credit, including their most recent in 1994, when they snapped a 54 year curse under the leadership of Hall of Fame captain Mark Messier.
After winning the President’s Trophy in the regular season, posting the best record in the league, the Rangers cruised through the rival New York Islanders, sweeping them in four games in the opening round of the playoffs. After a quick five game series against the Washington Capitals, the Rangers found themselves facing off against another rival in the Eastern Conference Finals, the New Jersey Devils.
This series, which lives on in hockey legend, was a hard fought battle between two hockey powerhouses. Taking seven games to decide, it featured a memorable comeback by the Rangers. Being down three games to one to force a game seven, Mark Messier’s guarantee prior to game six and then his hat trick performance is the stuff of legends. An epic game seven went to double overtime (the third double overtime game of the series) before blue collar player Stephane Matteau was able to sneak one past Martin Brodeur to send the Rangers to the finals. Echoes of “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” still reverberate off the walls in MSG.
The 1994 Stanley Cup Finals matched the New York Rangers against the Vancouver Canucks and their star players in Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure. The Rangers came from behind again in the series to take the lead before losing games five and six. Looking to take the series and break the curse once and for all, the Rangers took the ice at Madison Square Garden for an unforgettable way to cap off the year in an epic game seven. Goals from Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, and Mark Messier were good enough to edge the Canucks three to two and bring home the Cup. Rangers fans still remember holding their breath as the final faceoff took place to the right of Mike Richter with 1.6 seconds left on the clock and then going crazy after Craig McTavish won the draw and the final buzzer sounded.
Memories of the ’94 Rangers are still represented at the Garden. It is not at all uncommon for fans to show up to the games, even today, wearing Messier’s #11 jersey. The current New York Rangers have kept fans on the edge of their seats for the past few seasons, seeming poised to win a championship each season. However, it just hasn’t been in the cards for the Rangers. A trip to the finals at the end of the 2013-2014 season was met with a heartbreaking loss to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.
The 2017-2018 campaign saw the Rangers championship window come to a close. A period of rebuilding is on the way for this club as memorable faces (including Captain Ryan McDonough) have been shipped off in favor of a younger roster. Head Coach Alain Vigneault was let go at the conclusion of the season. There were bright spots in the season, however, with major additions in the form of the bomb-shell free agency signing of Kevin Shattenkirk. Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich, are two young players who aim to guide this team through rough times and reach that championship caliber once again.
The captain vacancy will make for an interesting offseason storyline to go along with the hiring of David Quinn to be the new coach. Coming from Boston University, Quinn has extensive experience at mentoring players and fostering their development – skills that will come in handy with a Rangers team that is getting younger. The current roster still features hard-nosed players such as Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, and Kevin Shattenkirk. Starting in goal is none other than the winningest goaltender in Rangers history, Henrik Lundqvist. Focusing on their future, the team invested in their youth by signing Brady Skjei, Kevin Hayes, and Ryan Spooner to new deals in the offseason. For more information about the New York Rangers click here.