The New York Rangers are moving on to the second round of the playoffs after sweeping the Washington Capitals in the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Naturally, it’s interesting to go back and look to see when something like this has happened before, and since I’m such a loon for nostalgia, we’re going to go back in time and examine the last time the Rangers swept someone out of the first round, and for that, we go back to 2007.

In contrast to the current Rangers squad, the 2007 team fought their way into the playoffs during the latter part of the regular season. They made history by becoming the first team to advance to the second round, sweeping the third-seeded Atlanta Thrashers out of their inaugural playoff appearance.

This victory marked the Rangers’ first series win since defeating the Devils in 1997 and their first playoff sweep since overpowering the Islanders in 1994. The triumph followed a previous year’s disappointment when they were swiftly eliminated by the Devils after ending a nine-year playoff drought.

Similar to this year’s performance, the Rangers dominated the series against Atlanta with gusto. Despite facing tough competition in Game 4, where the Thrashers fought fiercely, the Rangers maintained control. The Thrashers briefly took the lead twice but couldn’t capitalize on it.

Although Keith Tkachuk scored the opening goal for the Thrashers, the Rangers remained composed, given their three-game lead. Brendan Shanahan’s crucial goal, assisted by Martin Straka, turned the tide for the Rangers late in the second period, providing them with a much-needed boost. The team displayed renewed vigor in the third period, sealing their victory with additional goals from Matt Cullen and Jaromir Jagr.

Throughout the series, the Rangers effectively neutralized Atlanta’s top scorers, including Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, and Slava Kozlov, limiting them to minimal production compared to their regular-season performance.

The Rangers would go on to lose to the Buffalo Sabres in the next round but began a playoff streak that would last ten-plus years, off the back of Henrik Lundqvist. On the other hand, this was Atlanta’s one and only playoff appearance before eventually being relocated to Winnipeg. The Thrashers franchise was doomed to unstable ownership and questionable management decisions, which ultimately led to their demise.

YouTuber Pinholes Graham paints an interesting retrospective on the Rangers sweep of the Thrashers.

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