'I've never felt any worse': Rangers deal with pain of losing Stanley Cup Final

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After a few days, the New York Rangers will look back at the positives from the 2013-14 season. For now, though, the pain of losing the Stanley Cup will be all they can think about.

“It’s just a tough feeling right now,” said Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi to NBC. “Looking at the monitor before at the guys raising the Cup, it makes me sick a little bit. But they played a great series and this is just a tough time for us right now.”

After a bumpy start to the season, the Rangers rallied to finish fifth in the Eastern Conference. Once in the postseason, they would run the gauntlet in the first two rounds, needing seven games in both series to advance to the conference final. 

It was in Round 2 where the team came together and the run to the Final really started. 

After Game 4, with the Pittsburgh Penguins holding a commanding 3-1 series lead, Martin St. Louis’ mother passed away unexpectedly and the bond that was formed with the Rangers’ forward and his new teammates, along with a red-hot Henrik Lundqvist, helped them overcome the series deficit and eliminate Sidney Crosby and company. 

New York moved on to Round 3 and took three of the first four games against the Montreal Canadiens before a Lundqvist shutout in Game 6 gave the Rangers their first conference championship in 20 years.

As the Rangers look back on this Cup Final, they’ll remember Game 1, when they watched a 2-0 first period lead evaporate into an overtime loss. They’ll remember Game 2, when they failed to hold on to three separate two-goal leads before Dustin Brown’s goal in double-overtime gave LA a 2-0 series advantage. They’ll remember Game 3, when the Jonathan Quick from the Kings’ 2012 Cup run showed up, making 32 saves and posting a shutout. And finally, they’ll remember Game 5 when former Ranger Marian Gaborik tied the score midway through the third period before Alec Martinez ended their season in double-overtime.

“Puck luck” was the phrase of the Final, but the Rangers know that they had their opportunities to change the direction of the series.

“It’s weird. We got beat in five games,” said Rangers forward Derick Brassard, “but we have the feeling right now that they’re a good team and we played with them the whole way. I think we could have beat them.”

There was nothing to be said in the Rangers’ locker room after the game, according to Dan Girardi. A season that started back in mid-September with hopes of glory ended in mid-June empty-handed. 

"It's gotta be the worst feeling for a hockey player,” said Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. “You get this far, you do so much as a group, as a team, and then you fall short, I've never felt any worse."

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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