The day after always stings.
For the 18,006 Ranger fans inside Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, as well as the millions of others who watched Game 6 against Ottawa on television or listened on the radio, there will be countless “what ifs” over the coming days, weeks and months. Dreams of a deep playoff run shattered by a Senators squad that held a lead for under 69 minutes throughout the entire series.
As my broadcast partner Dave Maloney frequently points out, only one team is left standing at the conclusion of every season. The Blueshirts were one of seven teams still alive as of Tuesday. Twenty-three other NHL teams would have given their right skate to be in their position. As disappointing as the ending always is, the last six seasons have been a golden era of Rangers hockey.
During that time, the Rangers have played in 93 post-season games — more than any other NHL team and the equivalent of an extra full regular season plus 11 games. The club has given their fans memories to last a lifetime over the past six springs, including three trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, one Stanley Cup Final appearance and two other second round visits.
Over the past 12 seasons (the Henrik Lundqvist Era), the Rangers have made it to the post-season 11 times, following a seven-year drought. King Henrik has started the last 127 (!) playoff games for the Blueshirts, dating back to his rookie season of 2005-06. Lundqvist has played in 128 career post-season games during his Hall of Fame career, most on the all-time franchise list. He is followed in the second through fifth spots by Dan Girardi (122), Marc Staal (104), Derek Stepan (97) and Ryan McDonagh (96).
While the Rangers have not won the ultimate prize since that monumental night in June 1994, they have given the Blueshirt Faithful a myriad of magical moments over the last decade-plus.
Once again, the Stanley Cup playoffs have been riveting.
Through Tuesday’s games, 23 of the 66 games have gone to overtime. Sixty-two percent of the games have been decided by one goal. In 64 percent of the games, the game-winning goal was scored in the third period or overtime. Ten tying goals have been scored in the last five minutes of the third period. The Nashville building may just be the loudest in the league. The fans in Edmonton and Toronto have been treated to post-season excitement for the first time in many years, and those franchises look forward to great things over the next decade.
Enjoy watching the next two rounds, followed by the Expansion Draft, Entry Draft, and free agency.
It has been an honor to call the Rangers games on a radio for the past 21 seasons, including the last 12 with the former Captain. The 2017-18 campaign is less than five months away.
Can’t wait for training camp!