Because it’s the Cup!
Today is a wonderful day for many people here in the New York metropolitan area, and for me, as last night the New York Rangers advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 20 years by shutting out, and completely shutting down, the much-maligned Montreal Canadiens, 1-0.
Whereas in 1994, the team was a powerhouse throughout the entire season and went into the playoffs as a favorite, this year’s team seemingly came out of nowhere, playing the first couple of the months of the season at below 500 and slowly gaining strength as they went along. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was even ready to cancel my subscription to NBC Sports because I thought they’d been finished, down to the hated Pittsburgh Penguins 3 games to 1, but they remarkably went on to win five straight games, eliminating the Pens and winning the first 2 games in this series against the Habs.
So now, New York celebrates, but just for a few days. Their opponent in the Finals has not been determined yet. The Western Conference has yet to be decided, with the LA Kings leading the Chicago Blackhawks 3 games to 2, with their game 6 to be played this evening. People in the hockey world have been saying that the two teams out west are the two best teams out there, and that either Eastern Conference team would have a mountain to climb to beat them. (Both LA and Chicago are the two most recent Stanley Cup winners.) Well, in 94 the Rangers beat a 500 team for the championship in a very tough -game series, so we all know that in the playoffs, anything can happen.
This Rangers team is not a team full of marquee names like the one in 94, but they are a very good team. Behind their stellar netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who so deserves to win the Cup, bigger name players like Marty St. Louis, Brad Richards and Steve Nash are surrounded by a very focused, speedy and talented bunch of hockey players. This group embodies the word “team,” and players like Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonough, Carl Hagelin, Dominic Moore (who scored the game’s only goal last night) and others all do their part to make this team as good as it is.
So, here’s to four more wins to an even bigger celebration for my favorite of all teams, the NY Rangers. It’s definitely a time to celebrate!