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Reasons to be cheerful

Don't worry be happy. Photo: Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

Don’t worry be happy. Photo: Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

The Rangers have been the equal of the Kings in all three contests so far, and yet the Rangers are facing a 3-0 series deficit and probable defeat in the Stanley Cup Final. On the heels of a promising yet inconsistent first regular season under Alain Vigneault, the Rangers have shown a huge amount of promise in the playoffs to get to their first Cup Final since the magical ride of 1994.

There has been a ton of positives that should provide plenty of hope for the future. Smiling in the face of defeat, let’s look at a few things that should excite Rangers fans moving forward.

Norway has a hockey force

It seems a long, long time ago since the whole ‘Is Mats Zuccarello NHL calibre’ debate. Zuccarello has grown throughout this season (and the Final) and after discussing whether Zuccarello could do more after Game One of the Cup Final, boy has he.

Zuccarello has been everywhere; he’s taken the body, he’s parked himself in front of the net at every opportunity, he’s generated offense and he’s been a leader for the Rangers. If Zuccarello can continue this level of growth he’s going to be the reincarnation of Marty St Louis; that’s how much skill he has.

Center of Attention

If the Rangers can fix the center position this offseason I see no reason why the Rangers can’t contend regularly. The Rangers are relatively young and deep on the wing, led by the young brigade of Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin and even Rick Nash (who at 29 is not old in anyone’s estimation). With an elite goalie and strong nucleus on the blueline, Glen Sather has a fine core to build around. Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard need to be complimentary pieces to the center position but they are hugely talented young players.

What we have seen in the Stanley Cup Final so far, is the difference quality depth at center provides. Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar – without either being dominant – have either produced offense or controlled the puck and when they’re not on the ice, Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll have provided face-off expertise and even additional offense. This truly elite skill and level of depth  is what the Rangers lack at center yet they do have good young pieces to build around.

No one to fear in the East

This Rangers team, even as currently comprised (although it will surely change) can get back to a Cup Final in short order. Columbus will get better, Boston is big, nasty and deep, and of course Pittsburgh has the elite skill up front. But really, take a calculated look at the East for a moment.

Boston will face change (can they keep an old Iginla? Chara is aging, and the cap is calling), Pittsburgh may rip it up and start again. The Rangers? They have such balance in the way the roster is constructed right now.

I’m yet to be convinced Tampa have the truly elite talent to keep up their progress from this year and you always have to be wary of Detroit’s ability to build on the fly but with a few careful maneuvers this summer the Rangers, who have now accumulated all this playoff experience, can set themselves up for a few more productive seasons.

Chris Kreider

Chris Kreider is 23. He is a big man with serious speed, a nasty shot, who plays the body and whose ego doesn’t allow him to shy from the limelight. You get the impression Kreider wants to be the best player on the ice, even if he hasn’t quite put it all together yet. A little more patience from the Rangers and they’ll have themselves a beast in Kreider. At times in this playoff run, Kreider has done and been what Nash was meant to do, and meant to be. At 23 he already has 39 playoff games and 20 points under his belt. The Rangers really do have a young home grown forward to build around.

Whether it’s Kreider, the balance the Rangers enjoy or the emergence of a hockey stud from the outpost that is Norway there are a whole bunch of reasons Rangers fans can face up to a 3-0 series deficit with optimisim.

Will the Rangers turn this all around and win in seven? Maybe. Probably not. One such comeback in Hockey history suggests the Rangers are done. What the Rangers are not however, is one fluke run to the final. There’s plenty to build around in New York and that’s reason to be cheerful.

"Reasons to be cheerful", 2 out of 5 based on 3 ratings.

45 Responses to “Reasons to be cheerful”

  1. SalMerc says:

    None!

  2. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    Plenty to be optimistic about, I agree. I just hope we don’t assume Stanley Cup Finals appearances are just going to start happening because the Rangers made it to one this year. Playoffs are grueling, and there are no guarantees. They couldn’t capitalize on this one and it stings.

  3. Chris F says:

    I don’t think too many people expected the Rangers to be in the Cup Finals this year, so by that measure this has been a successful first year for AV’s Rangers.

    Once we got here, there was optimism, but still most probably didn’t really think the Rangers would take the Cup. I know I didn’t. However I thought we were much better that what everyone around the League seemed to think.

    That’s what makes this 3-0 hole so tough to accept. I could be Okay with a six or seven game loss. I know this team has a bright couple of years ahead of them.

    But they don’t deserve to be down 3 right now. There’s nothing cheerful about that. It sucks.

    • TxRanger says:

      For once, you’re absolutely right. I thought we could win it, think we still can, but it’s next to impossible.

    • Scully says:

      Agreed with everything you said. I’m damn proud of this team and this has been an awesome season. The only thing that sucks is that the North American media will claim that this Rangers team had no business being in the finals when that’d be highly incorrect.

      Just a bad time to not have our best week of the season.

  4. Ray says:

    Agreed. IMO, the Ranger skaters have bested Philadelphia and Montreal and held their own against LA, hardly the team of recent years that relied on Lundqvist to win series. They even outplayed the Flyers with McDonagh playing badly. Hank did steal the series against Pitt and played well enough in the other rounds to make the other deserved triumphs stand up.

  5. Ray V says:

    Shopping for my Zucc jersey!!! Zucc not only has amazing vision, but has the knack to look at a play, know where the puck will be, and bam he is there. The little guy with the long stick and also is amazing at holding on to the puck no matter who is on him. We all knew what he can do, but I think he has opened up the eyes of the rest of the league. GO ZUCC!!!!!!
    Didn’t Stepan have the same type of ice vision as Zucc just over a year ago? He was our rookie stud for a bit. Just don’t know what has happened. Is he playing hurt? Has he lost his confidence? He was making Zucc type passes at one point. Imagine if he gets going again and stays consistent.
    On a final note – its been a good run boys. Never thought we could get past Pens or Habs so its gonna suck that we got this close but its still way more than I expected for these playoffs. I know…”never say never”, “its not over till the fat lady sings”… but whatever happens I am still proud of what our boys accomplished this year = )

  6. Ray V says:

    there is a great shot of Stralman and the puck within these sports pics on CNN
    http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/10/worldsport/gallery/what-a-shot-0610/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

  7. Bort says:

    Always like an upside post.
    It takes a combination of luck and still to win a Cup. We’ve had both, but the luck has been coming up dry for the most part this series (or at least working better for LA).

    If we keep going in the right direction, and our kids keep developing we are going to be a force in the east for some time.

  8. Chuck A says:

    IMO, the organization has now tasted what it takes to be the last team standing. The Kings know what it takes to be last – as we’ve seen, it’s razor thin.

    Front office, please: draft and develop.

  9. Walt says:

    We can compete for years if the moves that need to be made are done in a smart fashion. A FA signing, Stasney, or trade O’Reily, tye of center iceman is needed to be our #1 man. Step, and Brass are very good #2, and #3 guys, with D Moore as our #4. That takes care of the center position, or worst case senerio, Oscar will serve as our #3 man, moving the others one slot up.

    Strahlman will walk, bring up McIlrath, we need grit back there on “D”! If Marc won’t sign an extention, move him for assits, we have replacement in the pipeline that play his type of game, Brady Shjay anyone?????

    I’d move Nash if I could get a decent return, that experiment hasn’t quit worked out well. In future drafts I’d go after big, strong forwards in order to compete down the road.

    I stated this before, and will again, we need size, the NHL is getting bigger each year, and we have to keep up, or get man handeled. The future looks good, and I’ll give it a 3, no more than that!!!!!

    • Scully says:

      Agreed with most of what you said, but man you’ve been cryptically dying to move Staal :D (joking).

      I think Staal has had a combination of horrible luck and the rise of McD which has derailed the “Staal is the next awesome Rangers D” talk. I think he’ll sign an extension honestly. There’s never been an inkling that he doesn’t want to be here even with his bros in Carolina (which btw, has made exactly 1 playoff appearance, albeit a Conference Finals Trip in 09, since their cup run in 06) and will resign.

      My worry with Staal is… his play has been uncharacteristically up and down. Is it because his vision in his eye is worse than what we imagined it to be? He was always the most defensively reliable Ranger on the ice.

      Maybe he just needed a full year under his belt again after missing significant chunks of the past 2? Even with his current play… if he’s our 3rd best defenseman we’re in amazing shape.

  10. bayman says:

    After the pain wears off (assuming we lose the series), we will look back at this season as a great success. However, the blown non-call in Game 2 will gnaw at me for a long time. Completely different series, otherwise.

  11. Rockdog says:

    Good post. While the finals have been all kinds of disappointing, the team seems to have taken a major step forward. I am not ready to write off the finals yet (yes, I know that it is the longest of longshots) but I still appreciate the thoughts.

  12. joe719 says:

    This team cannot come back next season with both MSL and Brad Richards. If Richards is bought out, what will that do to MSL? As we have seen in Tampa, he tends to get a little selfish when things don’t go his way. Getting rid of his closest friend on the team might create a bigger problem. But still, Sather has to get rid of Richards. Even if he was having a great Series; financially it is the right move to make. How many times do you get a chance to correct a mistake? As for the possible rookies taking some jobs; eh. None of them look close to being locks for spots on this team. I’d like to see them get a true #1 center, and a REAL quaterback at the point for the PP. But I say that every year! Sather can’t let this team slip backwards the way it did after getting to the quarters vs. the Devils 2 Seasons ago. Hank only has a limited # of stellar years left. This one looks like it is gone; don’t let next year slip away too.

    • Chris F says:

      I think MSL probably knew coming in that Richards was on the chopping-block. It’s pretty well known around the League.

      I certainly hope that he doesn’t let that impact his performance. But, time shall tell.

    • Chris A says:

      In my opinion, MSL’s playoff success had everything to do with Hagelin and nothing to do with Richards.

      I think Richards is a goner and either Stepan or a new signing plays between the two speedy, diminutive wingers in 14-15.

      • Scully says:

        Absolutely agreed, and MSL mortgaged his entire Tampa Bay legacy to come here, completely aware of the Richards situation. Richards has been a step slow the whole post-season (and season to be honest… I was a big supporter of bringing him back and took a ton of flack, and watched him like a hawk all year). Richards isn’t “done” he’s just “done” being a top 2 center on a cup team.

    • WayneG says:

      I wouldn’t say Sather let the team slip all that much following the loss to the Debbies- The line up we have now is pretty damn good- We are playing in the finals for the cup. We do still need to get rid of Richards and someone to be the QB on the PP.

  13. Andy from the LES says:

    I’m happy, overall, with how the season has turned out. It sucks to end this way, of course, but ‘dems the breaks. Life isn’t fair. In any event, I’m (mostly) happy.

    Here’s what does make me sad, though: the possibility that instead of building this team the right way, Slats will do the Typical Ranger Thing and do something big and stupid in terms of a trade or big $$$ free agent signing. That’s the kind of move this team needs to avoid.

    • joe719 says:

      Please spare me all the “I’m happy ” posts. It took 20 years to get back to this position, and they’re about to get swept. Where is the guarantee that this group will even come close to this point next year? The so-called top scorers on the team(Nash, Richards, MSL) are either on the downside of their careers, or have lost the ability to score. You have a goalie, an all-world goalie; or so we’ve been told, going into his 10th year without a Cup. He’ll be coming off a Series where I really believe he thought it was his time. How will that effect him going forward. Sather has hard decisions to make regarding buyouts and FA’S. This team might not look anyway close to what we are seeing now. So spare me all the rosy future talk. They said that after 94′ too. Kovalev was gonna’ be the “Russian Gretzky!” Its all a crapshoot. That’s why even though this run was unexpected, and still very rewarding; when you lose, it still is very hard to take. If it takes another 20 yrs, I’ll be 74!!!

      • Chris F says:

        What makes people like you, Walt, Leatherneck, and Tx think you can speak to people like this?

        Why are your pessimistic tantrums after every loss so much more meaningful than the views of those of us who try to find optimism and enjoy the ride along the way?

        The whole point of this comment section is for fellow Rangers fans to share their thoughts and opinions with one another. It’s a place for us to express our Rangers fandom WITH OUT getting insulted and ridiculed.

        You don’t like what someone has to say, then move along and comment on another thread. I’m sure most of us don’t like what you have to say but we don’t go around challenging, insulting and talking down to those we disagree with.

        Several of you are really ruining this place lately.

        • "The Original" Rob says:

          Well said Chris F! These are the same guys that are celebrating the cup after a win though, but the moment we lose, “sell the team”, “fire the GM” and “burn the Garden down”.

          The fact of the matter is, WE’RE IN THE STANLEY CUP FINALS….right now!!! Regardless, that we’re down 3-0 or down 9-0 in the series, OUR BELOVED NY RANGERS ARE IN THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS!!!

          So, NO! This team is a very good team, no matter how you look at it. Sure, there are some blemishes and not everything is perfect. There’s obviously some work and fine tuning that’s needed in the off-season, but many of you and some of you in particular nauseate me with some of your posts whenever this team loses a game.

          There are 28 other NHL teams, and their respective fan’s that wish they were in our shoes right now, so savor the moment people, and try to enjoy it.

          I’m so proud of this team and even more proud to be a Ranger Fan today, then I’ve ever been! Let’s Go Rangers!

          • "The Original" Rob says:

            Fyi, I would leave Walt out of that list though. The man always come through with good post’s and is just very passionate of his Rangers.

            • Chris F says:

              Everyone here is passionate, some to a fault.

              I like Walt. But I don’t think the feeling is mutual and he has some of these tendencies to go off on people he disagrees with.

              It’s fine to disagree but things tend to get way too personal with some of these guys.

              • flatbush says:

                Its just in the heat of the battle. Everyone has an opinion. You can certainly understand the frustration and the passion. When four teams get to the end there are 26 others watching. Hey its no consolation when you don’t win the cup but obviously only one team gets the cup. Let it be and just like the players who try to demolish each, shake hands and respect the opinions and emotions.

              • Walt says:

                My friend, the only person I’ve ever gotten into an exchange of words with is you. I defy you to show me anyone else, so let it go already!!

            • Walt says:

              Thank you very much, I try!!

        • Bort says:

          Thank you.

        • Leatherneckinlv says:

          do what you are preaching then Chris F. You of all people have the audacity to post this? go shove it where the sun don’t shine

          • Walt says:

            Semper Fi!!!

          • Chris F says:

            There’s a difference between responding to someone and calling them out for being rude and bombastic and responding to someone just to thrash their views on the Rangers.

            It’s not your opinions that I care about. It’s how you express them. If you can’t distinguish, I don’t know what to tell you.

            You’re entitled to all the pessimism you can handle. But when the extent of your lexicon is “Shove it!” “Cram it!” “Stick it where the sun don’t shine!” “Don’t spout off to me!” “Spare me this!” “Spare me that!” “Cry me a river!” “Turds!” then, yea, people are going to get sick of that after awhile.

            • joe719 says:

              I’ve never trashed anyone’s views. I’ve never used any of the language you listed in any of my posts. I don’t think “spare me” is being disrespectful to anyone. Apparently you do. Your problem.

        • joe719 says:

          If this is a “drink the kool-aid only” site, then you should put up a sign. You need to lighten up a little bit Chris. I don’t know what I wrote that would offend anyone, except you and your fellow pom pom waver, hot-house flowers. Its my opinion. After some 40 odd years of following this team; seeing some of the dumbest Mgmt. moves over the years made by any professional franchise, I am more than entitled to be somewhat pessimistic about the future of this team. This is the comments section. The little button on the bottom is to reply to comments. That’s how it works, got it? I don’t think giving a thumbs up to your own post and complaining about those that don’t agree with you accomplishes much, does it? I usually ignore your pollyanna comments, chalking most of them up to a blind allegiance to your team. That’s fine; it takes all kinds of fans to fill an arena. Including those who face reality and won’t settle for a trip to the Finals every 20 years. If the place is ruined for you; you have the solution at your fingertips.

        • Walt says:

          Hay guy, keep me out of this !!!!!!

      • Dave says:

        Everyone relax. Remember the commenting rules. Civil discussion.

        • Scully says:

          I’d say “Jets” vs “Sharks” but I’d mean it as a West Side Story rumble, and around these parts, people would assume it’s a Western Conference Hockey Night in Canada matchup :D.

  14. ranger17 says:

    How would Nash to Winnepeg for Kane plus a pick work

    • Chris F says:

      Kane Is signed through 2018 at $5.25 million, compared to Nash’s $7.8 over the same time. So, money wise it would benefit the Rangers, plus they get a pick which they sort of desperately need these days.

      The problems I have with Kane are his size, his attitude problems and the fact that his production doesn’t really even come close to a struggling Nash’s production. Granted he’s 22 and already has a 30 goal season under his belt, but I’ve heard too many bad things about him. He’s really not the type of player we need, in my opinion.

      But I’m a big Nash supporter, so there’s that…

      • "The Original" Rob says:

        Chris F, I was always under the impression that Evander Kane is a bulky, speedy power forward? I know his personality isn’t the best though.

        • Chris F says:

          Well, he’s 195 lbs, so not small, but not exactly that big either. Definitely losing some size if swapping him out for Nash.

      • HARLEMBLUES says:

        Kane is big not small,fast,speedy,goal scorer who can fight.He’s also much younger.

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