Rangers Wait for Fate to Smile on Them Again
The New York Rangers reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 20 years on Thu 29 May with an exciting 1-0 victory over the Montréal Canadiens at a jubilant Madison Square Garden.
This will be only the fourth time in 63 years the finals are coming to the Big Apple, and New York is relishing the expolits of this underdog team as it pursues its second Cup in 20 years.
They've had a charmed spring:
The Rangers were one game away from the finals in 1971 but lost to Chicago, 4-3, in a heartbreaking seventh game at Chicago. Ed Giacomin was the Ranger goaltender, but Bobby Hull and Tony Esposito were too much for the Blueshirts. The next year, New York avenged that loss by sweeping the Blackhawks in four games to advance to the finals but were beaten by the powerful Boston Bruins, four games to two.
It took the Rangers seven years to get back to the finals, and they had to upset the top-seeded New York Islanders to play for the Cup. John Davisdon was the goalie through a great playoff run but they ran out of steam in the finals, winning the first game but losing the next four to Montréal. The Islanders won the next four Cups and Ranger fans began to hear the chants of 1940, the last time they had won the Stanley Cup.
From 1980 through 1993, the Rangers made it to the FInal Four twice, losing once to the Islanders and once to Montreal, and won a Presidents' Trophy in 1992 but couldn't get back to the finals. That all changed in 1994, as Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Mike Richter, and Brian Leetch led them to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.
Ironically, the moment most prominent for Rangers fans in 1994 was the legendary Stéphane Matteau double-overtime winner over the New Jersey Devils that vaulted the Blueshirts into the finals:
And they got the job done.
It's taken twenty years to return to the grand stage, and of course the names have changed, but with players like Henrik Lundqvist, Marty St Louis, Ryan McDonagh, and Derek Stepan, the Rangers are hoping for another New York parade, showing the best trophy in sports to all their fans.