They’re in. You can stop tugging your hair, let your heart get back to a stable pulse and stop chomping your nails down. The New York Rangers are headed to the Stanley Cup playoffs. New York’s spirited 5-2 win against the New Jersey Devils this afternoon coupled with the Carolina Hurricanes flatline 6-2 loss to the Lightning tonight clinched them a spot. Big thanks to Tampa Bay’s Marty St.Louis and Mike Smith on behalf of the Broadway Blueshirts. At the very least, an Edible Arrangements assortment is in order.
Thanks to the Canes defeat, the Rangers will be facing the first place Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs which should be a fun matchup. Remember Coach John Tortorella ’s ”love affair” with the Capitals’ fans back in the 2009 playoffs? And how they returned with ponchos behind the bench?
The Rangers will need to carry the emotion and passion from today over into next week to pound the Caps. Captain Chris Drury surprisingly returned to the lineup this afternoon. He had missed the majority of the season first with a broken finger and then with a knee injury that required surgery. He’s had a tough time since signing with the Rangers in 2007 as Dave Lozo so aptly pointed out. If ever there was a time Ranger fans needed a “Captain Clutch” (especially in the wake of losing Ryan Callahan) it was this afternoon when the Devils broke out with an early 1-0 lead. On his first shift in months, Drury tied it up with a shifty backhand off a rebound . While he’s still in the doghouse with Ranger fans for his dismal numbers, his energetic effort this afternoon on the heels of the playoffs are a good sign. He won four of six faceoffs in 7:48 minutes of ice time.
If Drury’s comeback goal didn’t crack a full blown smile, the goals from the other unlikely “heros” had to. Rookie defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored his first NHL goal in style which was the game winner putting the Rangers up 3-2. Silent winger Wojtek Wolski got the Rangers rolling in the second period with the second tying goal to make it 2-2. Brandon Prust and Vinny Prospal sealed the deal. It was a true team effort with 14 different players recording a point.
The Rangers got burned last year blowing a shootout and narrowly missed getting ousted this year because of winning too many shootouts. If Carolina had won, they would have been tied at 93 points with the Rangers but would have advanced to the playoffs because they had more non-shootout victories. Anything less than making the postseason would have been especially heartbreaking since the Blueshirts had 44 victories, three more than Carolina.
It’s time to sit back and enjoy.The playoffs start Wednesday and the schedule will be announced tomorrow night. They’re in.
Oh Brother Where Art Thou: Hurricanes’ captain Eric Staal couldn’t have been pleased with his team’s performance tonight to end their hopes for a playoff bid. His brother Marc on the other hand, the Ranger’s sturdy defenseman, must have liked what he saw. At least two Staals will be in the playoffs. Jordan’s Pittsburgh Penguins made the cut as well.
About the Author
Written by Margaret DeJesus
I'm a recent college graduate looking for a dream job covering hockey. I've been watching the New York Rangers since my grade school days of VHS and Gordon Bombay's "ducks fly together" speech. While studying journalism at Boston University (COM '10), I wrote for the Daily Free Press, the student newspaper. I worked two summers at the Staten Island Advance, my hometown newspaper, writing city news and features. I've also written CD reviews for Music-Reviewer.com. One of my favorite gigs was interning for hockey analyst extraordinaire Stan Fischler covering the Boston Bruins and attending all their home games in the 2009-2010 season. (Yes, including the crushing defeat against the Flyers in the Eastern Conference playoffs.)