NHL Playoffs: 7 Reasons the 2012 NY Rangers Would Beat the 1994 Team
The 2012 New York Rangers are bigger, faster and more disciplined than the 1994 team that won the Stanley Cup.
As anyone guarding Chris Kreider knows, speed kills. The 2012 Rangers are young, fast, confident and, despite what the media hasn't heard, well coached.
The 1994 Rangers were a championship team and will always be legends in New York, but they would not be able to skate with, or shoot past, this 2012 Rangers team.
If this time-machine game were to happen, and Leetch, Graves or Messier managed to get a shot past the best shot-blocking team in the NHL, that shot would be smothered, with no rebound, by the best goalie in Rangers history, Henrik Lundqvist.
There's obviously more to winning a hockey game than big, fast-moving bodies, so here are seven reasons the 2012 Rangers would beat the 1994 Stanley Cup winning New York Rangers.
Lundqvist vs. Richter
Mike Richter won the Stanley Cup in his fifth year in New York. He spent 14 seasons as the Rangers netminder.
This is Henrik Lundqvist's seventh season as the Rangers goalie and you don't get nominated for the Hart Trophy without at least being your team's most important player.
Richter was vitally important to the '94 cup run, but Lundqvist has basically been standing on his head since mid-April. Sounds like something David Blaine would do.
Whether you compare career numbers or respective playoff runs in 2012 and 1994, Lundqvist has a better goals-against-average and save percentage than Richter.
Lundqvist also already has 19 more career shutouts than Richter, despite playing half as long.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Ryan Callahan is not Mark Messier.
Not yet, and probably not ever.
But, they are both great Ranger captains because both lead by example.
Messier is the better offensive player. He inspired his teammates with his great passing and timely goals.
Callahan inspires his teammates with his forechecking and shot-blocking.
The '94 Rangers scored buckets of goals lead by Messier's talent and will.
The 2012 Rangers hit hard, hit often and block every shot in the tri-state area. Callahan's tireless motor and commitment to defense provide the foundation for this Rangers team.
He's still got a few hours, but it's unlikely Callahan would follow this Messier example.
The two guys pictured, Chris Kreider and Michael Del Zotto, are 20 and 21 years old, respectively, and they have a combined 17 playoff points so far.
22-year-old Ryan McDonagh leads all remaining players in ice time, averaging nearly 27 minutes per game this postseason.
While the '94 team had a few very important young players (Mattheau and Kovalev among others), they had 10 guys who were 30 or older on their playoff roster. The 2012 Rangers have only three 30-somethings on their team.
Age usually means experience and guile in hockey. In this instance, the fresh faces on the 2012 Rangers would be faster and more energetic than the '94 team, and would ultimately stifle their playmakers.
You can't teach speed and when you're this fast, you can make plays others can't.
The Times They Are a-Changin'
Brian Boyle is 6'7".
The 2012 Rangers have six guys who are 6'4" or taller.
The 1994 Rangers had just Beukeboom and Matteau at that height.
While a Beukeboom-Boyle fight would be one of the highlights of the time-machine game, the height and speed difference all over the ice would be noticeable.
This difference in size and pace is a byproduct of the speed of innovation and modern times.
18 years of technological advances in equipment and medicine is well beyond my expertise. This was a cell phone in 1994, so I can only imagine what head trainer, Jim Ramsay, has at his disposal today compared to what was available in '94.
Better medicine also means injuries are treated earlier and more effectively than in the past, which means more guys playing at 100 percent.
Finally, the height and speed advantage the current team has is attributable to the development of youth hockey all over the world.
Youth hockey is more popular today than ever before. More young players equals a larger talent pool. With a larger talent pool, teams are able to identify and develop physical specimens into productive NHL players. Teams are also able to scoop up these players at a younger age, maximizing their development.
That's why the modern game is filled with bigger, faster and more skilled players.
Like a Veteran Army
These 2012 Rangers are battle-tested.
One thing I left off the last slide is with the talent pool being so large, the difference between teams is minimal. This means there isn't as much separating a No. 1 from a No. 8 as there was 18 years ago.
Through the first two rounds of the 2012 playoffs, the Rangers have battled and defended with complete abandon.
Seven games against Ottawa with five being decided by a single goal.
Seven games against Washington with six being decided by a single goal.
In '94, the Rangers won eight out of their first nine playoff games by a combined score of 42-15 before they began their seven-game series against the Devils.
By winning easily in the first two rounds, the '94 Rangers could rest key players and have more off days. This time off may have lead to them underestimating the Devils heading into the Eastern Conference Finals.
The 2012 Rangers know how hard it is to win hockey games in May. Their captain and their coach will not let them underestimate anyone, especially a Stanley Cup winning team that appeared on their practice ice with Marty McFly and a Delorean.
Tortorella vs. Keenan
John Tortorella may not be as transparent and divulging as some want him to be, but he is a better coach than Mike Keenan.
Keenan spent one year as the Rangers coach and he won the Stanley Cup. This might make sense if it was towards the end of his career, but it wasn't.
Over his career, Keenan coached eight different teams, and none for more than four years.
Keenan had a reputation for not getting along with players and management.
Torts has a reputation for not getting along with the media.
One approach alienates players and creates a barrier within the locker room.
The other approach takes the spotlight off players, allowing them to focus on their preparation.
Keenan must have done something right to have 672 career wins in the NHL. However, being prickly to the guys signing your checks and the players earning you results is not a recipe for longevity, and that proved true for Keenan.
We can only assume Torts is deeply loyal to his players and the Rangers front office because when he does speak to the press, he has a knack for answering questions with questions.
James L. Dolan
As Knicks fans know, you want James Dolan far, far away from managing your team. The less control Dolan has over hockey decisions, the better the Rangers will be. Now and into the future.
It seems he will keep his hands away from this year's Rangers.
The Stanley Cup the Rangers won in '94 is theirs forever, and the current Rangers would do well to learn from the positives and negatives of that season.
A lot has changed since 1994. But the owner, the arena, the city and even the opponent are the same.
Here's hoping this season ends the same way it ended 18 years ago.
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