Are the 2024 Rangers different than past Presidents' Cup winners? We'll find out soon

The Rangers’ wonderful regular season ended Monday night and one of the lasting moments from the evening -- beyond the 4-0 victory over Ottawa -- came from the loud cheers the Blueshirts got out of the sellout crowd of 18,006 once the announcement that they had clinched the Presidents’ Trophy flashed on the scoreboard.

It was a time to celebrate, for sure, what with all the franchise records -- wins, points and more -- the Rangers achieved. But the players seem to know that was all temporary stuff, a nice bouquet for a strong campaign, yes, but one that will wilt quickly if their playoffs go sour.

So, really, it all begins now for these Rangers, doesn’t it?

Don’t misunderstand -- pushing for the most points in the NHL was the right thing for the Rangers to do, beyond just getting home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. It gave them, as Jacob Trouba put it, “that mentality of an extra sense of urgency going into the playoffs.

“And now it’s a quick turn of the page and get ready for the real stuff.”

This team might be able to get somewhere unforgettable. They might just be suited for the “real stuff,” beyond the obvious talent that helped them get to an amazing 114 points this season. The Rangers have been pushing and competing all season, an ethic drilled into them by Peter Laviolette, who is in his first season coaching the team, from even before training camp began.

“And it’s been sustained in practice,” Trouba said. “We always compete. That’s fun, because, as athletes, it’s fun to compete, especially with your buddies and your teammates. It carries over to the game and you kind of have that energy.”

And they’ve been resilient all season, notching an NHL-best 28 come-from-behind victories. It’s that kind of mindset that can perhaps help them erase, or at least ease, any lingering sting from a disappointing first-round exit last year.

“I think we have a group that feels like, when they put their equipment on, that they can win,” Laviolette said. “And, you know, they’ve done it through different stretches and, I think, for the most part fairly consistent. There was a stretch in the middle of the season where we were, like maybe a game under .500. Not a great record. But that happens.

“It’s just too long a season to start good and just finish all the way good and never have a bump. And so I think there’s things that you can learn from that and we talked about that at the time. … You try to pull yourself out of that. I think our guys were able to do that.

“But I think for the most part our guys have bought into working hard and competing hard.”

During his postgame press conference, the coach sounded proud that his team had established itself with “a DNA that’s a work-ethic-first attitude.”

The Rangers went 26-7-1 over their final 34 games this season. As Laviolette noted, “We stayed pretty solid with our game. That’s good, because now you’re heading into why you did all that work. It’s the first round of the playoffs.”

Winning the Presidents’ Trophy is nice, of course, and, as several players pointed out, if you’re competing for something, you might as well win it.

But it doesn’t mean the Stanley Cup is a sure thing, either. The Rangers have won four Presidents’ Trophies now. And while that amazing drought-breaking season of 1993-94 was one of those years, they didn’t win it all the other two times they’ve previously led the NHL in points (1991-92 and 2014-15).

None of the past eight winners of the trophy has even escaped the second round of the treacherous quagmire that is the NHL playoffs.

Maybe these Rangers will be different.

We’ll find out starting this weekend, when the real stuff begins.