It has become an annual right of passage this time of year to expect the Rangers to make a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That expectation is certainly justified when you’ve played in 76 playoff games over the last four seasons and have appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals three of the those years.
I think many folks around New York City expected to see the Rangers find their way deep into the postseason yet again here in 2016, but it was simply not to be.
Not this year, not with this group. The Rangers have not looked like the same gritty defensive-minded team we’ve seen over the last few seasons. In fact, their defense took a major step back throughout the regular season.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Rangers defense and overall play was exposed.
The Rangers were outclassed, outworked and simply out played in a five-game series victory for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Unlike the last couple of seasons when you could make the argument that a play here or a play there could decide the series, this series was the pure definition of domination by the Rangers opponent.
When you get outscored 21-10 in the series, 11-4 over the final two games and you see the invincible goaltender Henrik Lundqvist pulled in back-to-back games, it speaks to the sad state of affairs with the club.
The Rangers needed their goalie to be at his very best to have any chance of advancing in this postseason. Since he was pedestrian at best, it’s no surprise the Rangers had no chance.
This series loss will prompt all sorts of questions regarding the future of the Rangers franchise.
This is a team that doesn’t have a lot of cap space, it doesn’t have a lot of assets in their minor league system and has an aging roster.
You have to wonder how this team gets better and whether or not the championship window has closed for this group.
I wrote about this last year, and the more I think about it, the more I think there’s a good chance Henrik Lundqvist could end up becoming the Patrick Ewing of the New York Rangers.
A Hall Of Fame career with countless memories of brilliance, but a career without the euphoria of a championship.
Instead of having a Rangers playoff run to celebrate, it will be another New York hockey franchise that gets the opportunity to take center stage in the postseason.
The New York Islanders have been an irrelevant franchise in the National Hockey League and in New York City for the better part of two decades.
Not a lot of success, no signature moments, a fan base holding onto the glory of the championship runs of the early 1980’s.
Islander fans can now look to the present with their team finally winning a playoff series for the first time in 23 years.
Sunday’s Game 6 victory featured the Islanders superstar player John Tavares putting the team on his back.
In postseason games, championship players must make championship plays.
Tavares scored the game-tying goal with under one minute to play in the 3rd period in Game 6 to force overtime and scored the game winning goal blowing the roof off the Barclays Center.
It’s house money for the Islander fan base the rest of the postseason, but there’s also opportunity.
The Islanders have the chance to take over the town in late April and Early May.
They have a chance to get the sort of exposure and be the sort of relevant hockey team the fan base has been dying to see for a very long time.
So the 2016 postseason still features the Islanders and not the Rangers. A bizarro hockey world indeed.
You can listen to me Friday from 3-6 a.m., Sunday from 2-6 a.m. & Monday from 10-2 a.m. on WFAN Sports Radio 660 AM & 101.9 FM.