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As you all know, since 1940 the NY Rangers and their incredibly devoted, loyal, and knowledgeable fan base have truly celebrated only one time. In fact, we have a regular poster whose nickname is onecupinthelast71years. Before ’94, however, the Rangers were in the midst of a long dry spell. I began each season in those pre-’94 days with grand visions of success only to be disappointed. The other NY teams won championships. The Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets all won titles. Even the god forsaken Islanders won…..four in a row to boot. In the mid-eighties, I remember talking to my friend Kevin, originally a Ranger fan. In fact his parents met at a Ranger game, like in 1868. But as the Iles began winning – he switched allegiance. I remember telling him that I got his drive for five…..right here!!
The Rangers did seem cursed. I never thought they would win the Stanley cup. It was sad. It made me sad. It’s true that the Rangers nearly reached the summit in ‘72 and ’79 but Bobby Orr, first, and the entire Hall of Fame Habs team second, allowed us to merely peek at the other side without touching it. There were other years too. Beezer carried the Rangers on his back in ’86 and it seemed like that Rangers’ team was a team of destiny. After all, Montreal’s goalie was a rookie…some kid named Wahhhhh. How we could we lose? But lost they did. Would the Rangers ever win?
And finally it did happen. The amazing Cup run in ’94 is something no one could ever forget, however, it almost wasn’t. Rangers won their first seven games that playoff season. The Craps won game 4 and the Rangers finished them off in Game 5. I was ecstatic. They were winning and winning easily. I just knew the Cup was ours. But then it happened. Like it always did. The Rangers down 3 games to 2 against the Devils were on a figurative death’s door. Not yet!! The Rangers win Game 6 forcing Game 7.
It was a Friday night, I believe. I stood inches in front of my TV, the volume turned nearly all the way up. I stood the entire game. When Brian Leetch did his fancy little spiner-ramma-bamma-gamma and scored that first goal in game 7, I screamed like a woman. They were going to the finals. They were going to win the Cup. And then it happened. Again. Ilb’s tennis partner scores with less than 8 seconds left in the third period to tie the game at one. The flashback to April ’75 was immediate. I was stunned. Shocked. It happened again. How are they going to come back from this? I wanted to throw up. Those OT periods were among the most stressful moments in my life and believe me I had enough vodka in me to kill an army. When Matteau scored that goal I was euphoric.
The Canucks series was just an afterthought. Of course we would win. Maybe the Rangers would win in a sweep. Losing Game 1 ended that possibility but I wasn’t too worried. Sure enough, the Rangers won Games 2,3, and 4. The Cup was in the Garden for Game 5. I was excited but I felt funny. I wasn’t expecting them to win for whatever reason. True to form, the Canucks scored, like, 12 straight goals to kill us in Game 5 and then Vancouver won Game 6. Here we go again.
Game 7. The greatest sporting event of any kind is a hockey playoff Game 7…. and here it was the finals and a Game 7. I couldn’t sleep. I was so pumped. It was all I thought about for days. ESPN had tremendous coverage of the pre-game build up. That Garden crowd during the national anthems was so jacked that it brought tears to my eyes…I was crying. LETS GO RANGERS, LETS GO RANGERS. And it happened. The Rangers won that game and the Cup.
The last 17 years, however, have only brought marginal moments of success. More recently it has been much worse. The Rangers can barely win a playoff game much less a series it seems. I think everything happens for a reason. As example, I realize now that last year just wasn’t their time. Even if the Rangers had beaten the craps last year, they weren’t going anywhere thereafter. They looked dead in the first game OT and were zombie like after regulation in Game 4.
This year will be different. Hope springs eternal. Moreover, we have THE PRUST.
The Rangers, worst case, are going to the Conference finals this year. Next year we win it all. It starts with D. Good pitching beats good hitting. Defense wins championships. The King and his court of Sauer, McD, Staal, and Girardi are still improving. Henrik is reaching his peak and his kid Dmen are only going to improve. McD, Sauer, and Stahl are going to be among the top 6 D men in the league inside 4 years. Henrik wins the Veznia Trophy the next two years. The team wins the cup 2012-2013. This year is a dress rehearsal.
The top line of Avery/Richards/Gabby is going to be potent. Avery has plenty of detractors I realize. But he is a good friend of Richards, he will protect Richards, he will protect Gabby. Avery has speed and those blind passes that he throws (the ones that Bulldog just loves) are going to be bang-bang goals this year. I know some are clamoring for WW to play LW instead of Avery, but I think Avery is better suited especially given his willingness to drop the gloves if anyone goes near Richards and Gabby.
The second line may be one of the best second lines in the NHL. Cally/AA/Dubi. This trio is special. AA continues to improve, Cally has the heart of a lion, and Dubi’s stasch is ubiquitous in any decent 70’s porn movies. Heck, Dubi’s stasch is common even in crap 70’s porn. Dubi is stong as an ox. Dubi reminds me more and more of a young John Leclair and that is a good thing.
The third line of THE PRUST, Boyle, and the FED as good as any third line in the game today. THE PRUST, as we speak, in the mid-Atlantic ready to take on and destroy the Hurricane approaching land. Did any of you see the Tornado that THE PRUST beat up last spring? It’s on youtube somewhere. Boyle will have a good year too I sense. Fed is the ultimate team player and a great role model in the room. You need players of his ilk to win a Cup.
The fourth line of WW/Ruppster/and a rookie to be named is also going to have a great year. WW is in a contract year and even if he gets the big $$ and fades thereafter like a puff of smoke in the wind, this year he is going to put up numbers. Torts saw how tired his team was come April and he knows that he must roll four lines beginning in October. Everybody plays – Everybody contributes. It’s a team game. The Rangers earn the second or third seed, meeting the Craps in the Conference Finals.
Go ahead and take your shots. I can take it. After all, its just pain.