New York Rangers: Tough ending shouldn’t overshadow epic ride

Don’t be sad because it’s over, be happy that it happened. That should be the mentality of all New York Rangers fans today.

Everyone connected with the Blueshirts will still be feeling pretty raw after the tough events of Saturday night. In a do-or-die Game Six, they were emphatically shown what it takes to reach the mountain top by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Despite once holding a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Final, the Rangers proved that they are not quite on the same level as the Bolts who will now look to complete a historic three-peat.

The Lightning showed why they have become the modern day dynasty in the NHL in the way that they came back to win four straight to erase a 2-0 series deficit and advance to their third Stanley Cup Final in as many years.

The Bolts were ruthless, they were aggressive on the forecheck and they used their wealth of postseason experience to get the job done.

That was perfectly demonstrated in Game Six when, seconds after Frank Vatrano had made it a tied game, Steven Stamkos scored his second goal of the game to break the hearts of the Rangers.

It was a tough, tough ending to what was a magical and epic postseason run that no-one saw coming. And that’s why the ending shouldn’t overshadow the overall journey.

Having hired Gerard Gallant as their Head Coach, the Rangers were expected to take steps forward but this year was still seen as a development season for the franchise’s young and exciting core. However, Gallant was able to extract every ounce of potential out of this team and they finished the regular season with more than 100 points.

The kids got better and better, Adam Fox carved out another Norris Trophy caliber year, Chris Kreider finally became the player he’s long been capable of, Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin played like the elite stars they are and Igor Shesterkin established himself as one of the best goalies in the NHL. 

Not to mention General Manager Chris Drury being aggressive at the Trade Deadline to significantly bolster his roster with the additions of Tyler Motte, Vatrano and Andrew Copp.

All three, particularly the latter two, were huge down the stretch as the Rangers beat up on some big hitters to clinch home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.