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Rangers will battle history to win the Stanley Cup

The best trophy in sports

The best trophy in sports

Three hockey clubs in 47 years. The 2009 Penguins. The 1984 Oilers. The 1968 Canadiens. They are the only three hockey clubs in the Post-Original Six expansion era to win the Stanley Cup the year after they challenged for it and lost. Not exactly favorable odds.

Those three clubs weren’t exactly one hit wonders either. The Canadiens of that era helped brand their organization for a long time as the Yankees of the NHL. The Oilers of the 80s were the last of a dying breed in pro sports — a dynasty. Though they never lived up to their potential, the Crosby-led Penguins were at least expected to challenge for the Cup a few more times following their 2009 victory. They didn’t and now Bylsma and Shero are unemployed.

So will the Rangers defy history and do the unthinkable?

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Worst GM in the NHL Award

Needs improvement

Needs improvement

For several years now we have been nominating GMs around the league as the “worst GM in the NHL award”. Past nominees include Scott Howson, Pierre Gauthier, Greg Sherman, Paul Holmgren, and Darcy Regier to name a few. By the way, all have been fired or have lost their responsibilities. In other words, we may be on to something here.

Here’s how it works. We nominate the GMs (based on their risky trades, unspectacular drafts or financially unsound signings). You vote the winner. Got it? Good.

Here’s 2014 nominees:

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King’s Lair

It's good to be the King

It’s good to be the King

In case you missed the gossip pages last week, Henrik Lundqvist is selling his Hell’s Kitchen apartment. The place is a 2,035 square foot penthouse duplex with 2 bedrooms and 2.5 bath, which will run you about $6.5 million. Not bad.

For more pics, scope it out below.

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An early look at potential NYR line combos

Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

For the first time since, I don’t know the 90s, the Rangers had pretty stable line combinations at the forward position. While most of us figured there would be more consistency with this new regime, I don’t think anyone expected to see the lines stay together as often as they did for as long as they did.

Even if you look back at AV’s tenure in Vancouver, he rarely kept the lines together as consistently as he did last season. Obviously, this had a lot to do with depth. With the departure of many key players at several different forward positions, you wonder what kind of consistency we’ll see during 2014-15 season.

Today, we take an early look at what the Rangers potential line combinations could be come October.

First line

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Panic at the disco

Even Margot Robbie is worried

Even Margot Robbie is worried

I was going to post a picture of your average Rangers fan, but I figured Margot Robbie would yield more pageviews. Yes, you’re all suckers.

Other than the fact that she’s hot, I think her reaction is probably synonymous with how most of this fan base reacted to the org’s first week of free agency. Mass panic!

It’s amazing how everyone always derides the Rangers organization for throwing Jim Dolan’s money around this time of the year, yet another summer of keeping his wallet in their pockets and everyone acts like it’s the end of the world. Life of a sports fan I suppose.

Me? I am not worried. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that I actually like the moves our organization made this past week. There’s still work to be done for sure. I mean we are three months away from opening night. But so far, we’re heading down the right path.

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Replacing Richards

Spezza could be an option

Spezza could be an option

I think most of this fan base understood that Richards needed to be bought out. It was certainly something I pushed for last summer and I fully support the move. However, the obvious downside to this decision is now we have a major hole on our roster that needs to be filled.

Assuming the Rangers want to keep Stepan as a 1 or 2c and Brassard as a 2 or 3c, finding another secondary center appears to be the route we’re going to take. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot available. At least no one that I’d consider an ideal candidate.

Here are the few options that will be available this summer and what they would likely cost us should we chose to pursue them.

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Rangers final grades: Coaching

Needs improvement

Needs improvement

Back by popular demand, we’ve decided to kick start our annual player, coaching, and management report cards. As always, these grades aren’t just based on stats, but also the execution of each personnel or player’s respective role within the organization. Obviously there’s some subjectivity here, but that’s what makes this interesting and conversational.

Before I get started on AV and company, let me first say that grading coaching specifically is not easy. Many of the greatest coaches in this game have been fired multiple times over, and it’s never because they lost their ability to do what they do. More often than not, those decisions typically come down to politics.

So how does one evaluate a coaching staff?

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Diagnosing Rick Nash

Courtesy of someone on the internet

Courtesy of someone on the internet

Do the math. Five goals in thirty eight playoff games (or 0.13 goals per game) vs. 336 goals in 783 regular season games (or 0.43 goals per game). If anyone wanted to make a case that Nash wasn’t a playoff performer or that he’s a choke artist, the numbers are there for the taking.

But making such claims are easy. The hard part is trying to figure out why this isn’t working. The even more difficult task is prescribing a solution.

Look, I’m not an expert. I have no magic potion, but I think I at least have a theory as to why Rick Nash’s offense has sank to Brandon Dubinsky levels of erraticism. And the only way to right the ship is to make an adjustment.

Scope this out.

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Rangers fans walk the long road

Celeb_Team_0613_1994

And the waiting is over…until it began again

Well, I certainly never thought I’d be writing this post. The Rangers return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994 when Richter, Leetch, Messier, Graves and company became legends for slaying dragons, making guarantees, but most importantly — getting the job done. It still amazes me to think that it has been 20 years.

I first started following the Rangers in 1988, the same season Brian Leetch was a rookie. My old man worked for a construction company, which had seats by the old Bud Light sign near the away team tunnel. I still have tickets to my first game that season. It was against the Devils and they were $67.

After watching games on TV with my dad, I remember walking down the stairs to our seats and being blown away at how vivid all the Rangers jerseys were and how gold the Garden ceiling was. Standard TV in those days just did not do the hockey experience justice.

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Memorial Day

 (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)

(H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)

I know there’s quite a few veterans and active military who read this blog. Thank you for your readership, but most importantly, thank you for your service.

From our family to yours, we hope everyone enjoys the day off. Stay safe.