Sam Rosen has called Rangers games for 30 years on MSG Network. He is famous for his ” … and this one will last a lifetime!” call of the Rangers’ 1994 Stanley Cup championship.
Rosen, a New City resident, provided diary entries throughout this year’s Stanley Cup Final.
I really wanted one more game at MSG Monday night, because I thought this Rangers team was capable of coming back and surprising a lot of people and maybe doing the near-impossible. But it wasn’t to be.
What a great series. To think back and realize it only went five games, but it seemed like so much more with all the overtimes and the double overtimes and how close the Rangers were, really, to making this an even series or being ahead in the series.
I thought in Game 5 they really showed what they were made of, when they fell behind early — and we’ve seen it with the Kings several times in the playoffs where they get on a roll and they just swarm you. They did it to Anaheim, they did it in Game 2 against Chicago in the Western Conference final, and the Rangers really stood up to them.
After falling behind they had a really good second period. The power play worked perfectly with Ryan McDonagh setting up Chris Kreider … the short-handed goal, Carl Hagelin making a big play, Brian Boyle with a great goal. Suddenly the possibility of the Rangers taking this series back to New York was a reality.
But the questionable penalty call to Mats Zuccarello, the Kings doing what they’ve done throughout the playoffs, coming through with big goals in the third period — this time the goal by Marian Gaborik to tie it. The double overtime was just fantastic, with both teams going for it. Those two overtime periods were thrillers. You couldn’t ask for anything more. Chances on both sides.
I don’t know how long it will stay in my memory, but it is etched in there: that shot of McDonagh on the power play banging off the post. I’m thinking, “Oh, my” — the cliché, “Game of inches.” There it was. The Rangers had 2-on-1s. Boyle had a chance. Rick Nash had a wide-open net and Slava Voynov made a great play to deflect it. Derek Stepan had a wide-open net. Tyler Toffoli hitting the crossbar for L.A. And then finally the rebound on the 3-on-2 chance.
But the Rangers did themselves proud. They showed that they belonged in the Stanley Cup Final. They have nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, they’re down. That’s normal, because we all know that opportunity to win the Cup doesn’t come around that often. The players will be disappointed.
Now comes the real hard part for the Rangers. They have a lot of decisions to make in the offseason. There are restricted free agents (Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, Kreider, John Moore), there are unrestricted free agents (Boyle, Anton Stralman, Dominic Moore, Benoit Pouliot, Raphael Diaz) and a buyout situation (Brad Richards).
We don’t know what the team will look like next season. But we know one thing, and that is that this coaching staff has set a real good tone and began building a solid culture here for the teams that will follow.
The players that went through this together will have learned a valuable lesson: what it takes to reach a Stanley Cup Final, and what it takes to win one. And the players who join the team will learn from them and know that there’s a core here that knows what it takes to win.
That core is led by Henrik Lundqvist, who in my mind has established himself as the best Rangers goaltender ever. We know Mike Richter won a Stanley Cup and Eddie Giacomin is in the Hall of Fame, but Lundqvist has proven to be a great goaltender who is destined to be in the Hall of Fame as well. He’s proven himself to be a clutch performer on the ice and a true leader on the ice.
It makes the future seem very, very solid for the Rangers.
Photo, top, by Getty Images.
Photo of Sam Rosen by Rebecca Taylor/MSG Photos.