(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers who hated them the most. Here are is Flyers Goal Scored By, fondly recalling the 2013-14 New York Rangers. Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.)
Today we celebrate the end of the 2014 New York Rangers. A team that cheated death, and gave fans of hockey a wonderful Cup Final. The Rangers deserve a tip of the cap for their effort, but that is all they take home with them. There will be no Manhattan revival, no parade down Broadway, no King with a Cup. The only celebration will be when Brian Boyle shaves that ridiculous 'Gangs of New York' mustache off.
They lost. The Rangers lost. The Rangers lost! Your 2014 Kings of Nothing: The New York Rangers.
It would have been easier for Rangers players and fans to digest, if say the Kings swept New York away like a Dennis Quaid tsunami. The most agonizing part of this series for New York, and the best part of the series for all of us, is how *close* the Rangers were in every game. They had a lead in four of the five games. They had multiple goal leads on home ice. They had carried the play for large chunks of overtime periods. They had great goaltending and a dangerous penalty kill. The Rangers did everything a team has to do to win a series in the NHL playoffs and they still lost. It is and will forever be wonderful.
In 1997 the Flyers steamrolled the Eastern Conference and 88 and company took us to the Final against the Red Wings. Holy mother of Cheez Whiz the Flyers got destroyed by Fedorov, Shanahan, Stevie Y and the most ridiculous breakaway goal by Darren McCarty ever recorded in history. The Flyers got swept and embarrassed. After the series, it was so easy to accept. Detroit was a Russian juggernaut and the Flyers didn't deserve to share the same ice as that club let alone beat them.
The Rangers were so very close to the Kings, matched up with them so well that Rangers fans have to feel like their Cup was taken from them, not won by a superior team.
The Rangers squeaked into the Final by taking advantage of a terrible Eastern Conference and a new playoff format that may or may not have been created by the Illuminati. (Seriously a New York/Los Angeles final in the first year of the new playoff bracket? I already predict a Boston-Chicago final for next year.) The Rangers, somehow and someway, were able to beat a half-hipped Ray Emery, a half-concussed Steve Mason, Marc-Andre Fleury, and whatever a "Dustin Tokarski" is. That is far from a murderer's row of goaltenders.
Led by Alain Vigneault's system of "play very dirty hockey, get a small lead and sit on it", the blue shirts squashed Philly, surprised Pittsburgh and survived Montreal.
They made it. The Cup Final. The first one since that magical 1994 season. There was something in the air of New York (the smell of poor people!) The Rangers arrived! The city buzzed and hummed like a scenester bumping lines in the bathroom of Warren 77. And just went it all felt so good, the Kings played the Blackhawks for the Western Conference Championship. Watching that Game 7 in Chicago, you could tell that the Eastern Conference was going to be the West's doormat for years to come. When LA won their Campbell Bowl, everyone knew their Cup was all but delayed for a few days.
So New York tried valiantly to get excited about hockey.
Problem is, this city cannot do hockey right.
It’s too much of a niche sport and when you play a niche sport in a frantic city, you often get overlooked. Hockey in New York ranks above Quidditch and below trapeze swinging on the West Side Highway. It *was* entertaining seeing the city of New York try to get excited for these playoffs:
- A giant "RANGERSTOWN" sign in Bryant Park, probably more of a way to hide the homeless people from European tourists.
- Ranger blue T-shirts so new and wrinkly they still had their fake NHL hologram falling off as people jostled on and off the 6 train.
- Listening to your terribly out of date C.E.O. talk about his thousand dollar seats and catching a practice puck as the dirtbag makes you work late on a Summer Friday. If you are reading this, Stan, go suck an egg.
- Hearing your coworkers chirp Lundqvist and wish he was "more like Richter".
- Sports radio trying to stay relevant talking about a sport they never talk about. You’d think when you are on the air for twenty four straight hours you could find someone with a hockey background to fill the 1-5am time slot but not in the Big Apple.
Thank God nobody has to hear Mike Francesa say “Hehlaine Vignutt” anymore.
Try all they might, the team, the city and their fans fell short. Beautifully short.
So what is there to remember about this Rangers team? Aside from a few unrestricted free agents, not much.
Henrik Lundqvist aside, the Rangers best player in the Final was Benoit Pouliot. Not 8 million dollar man Rich Nash.
Not the ghost of Brad Richards nor the crybaby "trade deadline savior" Marty St. Louis.
The Rangers top forwards were outplayed by the Kings' fourth line. Rich Nash was so bad people were talking about buying him out. Brad Richards played a whopping 3:37 of the first period in the deciding Game 5. At 6 more years at $6.6 mil, Richards is skyrocketing towards the Brygolovian level of the terrible money atmosphere.
The much talked about Rangers defensive core disappeared when it came time to play against an elite team. Pierre McGuire's new toy, Ryan McDonagh, couldn't make a big play when it counted. Most of the defense's blame can be laid directly at Dan Girardi's feet.
Thank you, Dan Girardi, for making Flyers fans say “well ya know Braydon Coburn isn’t so bad…”.
Many Kings goals in this series were scored thanks in large part to Big Dan. In 2014 we saw Dan Girardi shed his old skin and morph into the new Brooks Orpik: A very expensive sieve. Beloved by his brainwashed fans, laughed at by the rest of the league. God bless you, Dan Girardi, and thank you for imploding on the game's biggest stage.
And last but certainly not least: Henrik Lundqvist.
Hank, you deserve much better than this team, and this mouth breathing, jean shorts wearing fan base.
You were incredible all series and we thought you should have won the Conn Smythe. In this year’s playoffs, it's hard to find fault with Hank, or speak ill of the King…but we will try:
Hank you are a very ugly human being, play a terrible guitar and your little white gloves are silly. Hall of Fame goalie Michael Leighton has more Stanley Cup Final wins than you, Hank. Pictures of you trying to burrow into the ice as the Kings celebrate immediately to your right will never ever get old.
You deserve better but sadly, we don't see you ever getting back to the Final in your career. A supreme talent at the most desired position, the front office could never put a winner in front of you.
You are a gift to the sport of hockey, but terribly wasted in this city. Once a very short three game skid befalls the 2015 Rangers, the Billy Joel lookalikes will be crying for Cam Talbot and "da foot-cha for da franchise", casting you aside faster than a billionaire mayor who hates soda.
(Hank, if you are reading this, please come to Philadelphia, it is nice there and we have soft pretzels and water ice and we can write a clause in your contract to get the Phillie Phanatic to give you free hand jobs.)
The Rangers gave it everything they had, and there is something to be said for that. They were frustratingly close to winning a Stanley Cup, but never close at all. They were a few good bounces away from greatness, yet now will just be a small footnote in hockey history. But cheer up New York, at least you got something:
Rangers fans should be proud of their team. They didn't go away easy. Showed a lot of moxie tonight.— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) June 14, 2014
Congrats Rangers, you gave it all you had. Enjoy your moxie on the golf course.