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Now is the time for Rangers to win the Stanley Cup: 30 years is enough

Vaseline 2 months ago

Larry Brooks

Larry Brooks

NHL

The Rangers are ready for the future – they really are – with youngsters like Brennan Othmann, Brett Berard, Gabe Perreault and Drew Fortescue soon to join the band on Broadway. That means even if this year’s team falls short, the window won’t close for this group.

But that’s not the battle cry as the playoffs begin Sunday afternoon at the Garden with the opener of the 1 vs. 8 game against the Caps. There is urgency here. There is a feeling that the time is right.

Thirty years is enough.

Mika Zibanejad, skating during a recent practice, said the Ranger is a confident team heading into the playoffs. Robert Sabo for NY Post

“I think we proved to ourselves what we are capable of,” Mika Zibanejad told The Post after Saturday’s practice. “We do not need to make any changes to our system or approach.

“We have been trying to build towards this all year. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. You never know what kind of challenges you will face, but I think we have done a lot of good things in the past year, which has given us a sense of confidence.

“We are as prepared as possible for this.”

This isn’t about last spring’s feud against New Jersey, it’s not about the last four games of the 2022 conference finals against Tampa Bay. It’s not about the fiasco against Carolina under the bubble in 2020 and it’s not about getting shut out in Game 7 at Garden Ice by the Lightning in 2015, any more than it’s about getting shut out in Game 6 at Garden Ice by the Bruins in 1972. .

This is not about this litany of disappointments that have too often been in the blood. This is about these 2023-2024 Rangers, who have won more games than any team in the history of the franchise that has played since 1926. This is about these Blueshirts, who overcame every challenge they faced during the six-month, 82-match marathon.

This is about these Rangers, who never looked back after taking the lead at the Metro in the fourth week of October and becoming the best, most playoff-ready version of themselves by, yes, going 4-0 against the Devils; and yes, 3-1 against the Islanders; and yes, I go to Boston the third week of March and finish the 3-0 sweep against the Mighty B’s; and yes, back to the Garden 48 hours later to take out the Panthers.

And yes, coming back into the offside; and yes, making Matt Rempe an integral part of NHL vernacular.

The Rangers want to win their first Stanley Cup since 1994
when Captain Mark Messier led the Blueshirts to the promised land. NHLI via Getty Images

“I think it’s something we have to embrace as the Presidents’ Trophy winner,” Jimmy Vesey said. “This franchise has been around for 98 years and we just set the record for wins (55) and points (114) in a season, so I think we should embrace this.

“Any way you look at it, I think going through the last stretch where we won the games we needed to win to finish in first place in the overall standings gives us some extra confidence.”

Yes, we are talking about the regular season. But with the Metro title, the first seed in the East and the Presidents’ Trophy all on the line when the Blueshirts took the ice for Game 82, they took care of business and captured all three titles. Now there is a fourth.

Beginning with his introductory press conference last June after being hired to replace Gerard Gallant behind the bench, Peter Laviolette mentioned the critical importance of having a playoff-like mentality from day one of training camp.

Peter Laviolette has instilled a playoff mentality in the Rangers since the start of the season, writes The Post’s Larry Brooks. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The coach spoke the talk and his players walked the walk. I’ve been doing this for sixty years and I’ve never seen a team train more productively. The Rangers have a new personality this season. Construction for this day has been going on since mid-September.

“I think we came in to try to prepare every day, not just for the playoffs, but for the day ahead, whether it’s a game or practice,” Zibanejad said. “It was a very targeted approach to get the details right.

“Our practices were good. Obviously, the competitiveness and level of combat of the exercises prepared us for this in a different way.”

The Rangers will have to get to the front of the net. They’ll have to go inside. They will have to protect the front of their own net. They will have to be careful not to be tempted into undisciplined behavior on both fronts.

These are all general principles, but they apply specifically to how the Blueshirts will have to approach these games against this eighth-seeded opponent who is more concerned with hindering than creating and who has been the best team in the league throughout the season fit has given with their neutral zone lock.

So the Rangers will have to be patient. They will have to be disciplined. They need to go out and take care of business. One shift at a time. One period at a time. One game at a time.

They started this seven months ago. It’s time for the team with the best hockey record. Three decades after 1994, it’s time to go.

Thirty years is enough.




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