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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 will be remembered for decades to come, 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 season) 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 2016-2017 campaign saw the Rangers advancing to the playoffs yet again. A six game series win over the Canadiens afforded New York the chance to face off against the Ottawa Senators in round two. This would be the end of the line for the Rangers as they fell to the Senators in a hard-fought six game series. Head Coach Alain Vigneault knows that changes are on the horizon for his team. The first major change came when the Rangers bought out the remainder of defenseman Dan Girardi’s contract. However, along with the subtractions have come major additions in the form of the bomb-shell free agency signing of Kevin Shattenkirk. Along with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich, these newcomers are trying to keep that championship window open a bit longer.
Captain Ryan McDonough leads the charge for this talented team, flanked by other hard-nosed players such as Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash, Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, and Kevin Shattenkirk. Starting in goal is none other than the winningest goaltender in Rangers history, Henrik Lundqvist. For more information about the New York Rangers click here.