It's been almost 18 years since the last time the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup. However, after finishing the season first in the Eastern Conference and making it into the second round of the playoffs, it looks more and more transparent that they are going to win the Cup in 2012.
Although this team has a few flaws, mainly low power-play efficiency and having troubles winning faceoffs, they have enough talent and coaching to win it all.
Vezina Trophy finalist. Hart Trophy finalist. There is not much wrong that King Henrik can do. He finished the season with 39 wins, a .930 save percentage and 1.97 goals against average.
For years now, Lundqvist has been the MVP of the Rangers, and without him, the team would be lucky to make the playoffs. He is one of the best, if not the best goaltender in the NHL.
So far in the playoffs, he has not disappointed, racking up five wins along with a .945 save percentage and a 1.61 goals against average. It's clear he is ready to win, and he wants to win now.
As long as Lundqvist can keep up his performance, the Rangers have a very strong chance to bring the Cup back to Madison Square Garden for the first time since 1994.
Ever since taking over the Rangers in 2009, Tortorella has brought a fire to this team. This year, it seems to be working well.
The Rangers play wonderful defense under his guidance. Every game, all of the players are willing to throw their body down to block a shot. If you do not play defense, no matter if you're a winger or defenseman, Tortorella will bench you, as seen this year a few times.
The fire and grit this team has shown this year is clearly coming from the coach's motivation. And this particular coach knows what he is doing, as evident with his 2004 Stanley Cup Champion team Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tortorella deserves at least some of the credit for the team's success this season.
There are a few players on this Ranger team that have won it all in years past. Two of them, Brad Richards and Ruslan Fedotenko, were part of Tortorella's Stanley Cup-winning team for the Lightning. Mike Rupp also scored the game-winning goal to seal the deal for the New Jersey Devils Stanley Cup-winning team in 2003.
This experience will prove to be vital when it comes down to it. Having players who know how to win, especially on a young team like the Rangers, helps a team mightily during a playoff run.
Other players, like Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Henrik Lundqvist have had the playoff experience in the past, but have never gone into a deep playoff run.
The young players on this team, like Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider, both extremely talented but inexperienced, can learn how to deal with the heightened pressure inherent with the playoffs from these experienced veterans.
When it all boils down, the remaining pool of playoff teams seems rather favorable for the Rangers.
In the current series, they have to win three out of the next six games against the Washington Capitals, a team with a young back-up goalie in net and an alright defense. In Game 1, the Rangers were able to score three goals on just 14 shots.All the Rangers have to do is score two or three goals to win, especially with Henrik Lundqvist in net.
Assuming they win this series, the Rangers would have to face either the Devils or the Flyers. The Devils are not as talented or as deep as the Rangers, and Martin Brodeur is starting to look older in the net. The Flyers were absolutely dominated by the Rangers all season, and their defense has completely disappeared in the playoffs.
If they make the Finals, the Rangers would have to play one of the four remaining West teams: The St. Louis Blues, the Los Angeles Kings, the Pheonix Coyotes or the Nashville Predators. None of these teams are overpowering on offense, and it will be harder for them to score on the powerful Rangers defense.
All of these matchups left would end favorably for the Rangers.