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To win a Stanley Cup, a team will have to sort their way through the better part of 100 games.
There will be the obvious ups and downs throughout the campaign, but it's the teams that can deal with those ups and downs and maintain a high level of consistency that see the end of the road.
Last season, the Los Angeles Kings had a far from perfect regular season.
But the fact of the matter is that they dealt with the adversity and shortcomings and were consistent enough to earn a spot in the playoffs. Once they got there, they didn't take their foot off the pedal for a second.
Their consistency in the postseason was impeccable.
There are so many games in the NHL that a team's performance cannot be absolutely consistent. Mistakes and mishaps are going to happen; not even the best players and teams are exempt.
Teams are going to struggle to score, but just because a team goes five games and only scores five goals, their offensive consistency will not be questioned if they put up 260 goals on the season.
A consistent hockey club is one that performs well over the vast majority of a season.
For the better part of last season, the Rangers were a consistent team. It may have been hard to watch them at times, but they stuck to their system and played hard every night. Despite their anemic offense, they always seemed to find a big goal by giving everything they had.
At the end of the season, everyone knew the Rangers were a hardworking team and it was that hard work that got them the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, their consistency went out the window in the Eastern Conference finals.
The team was exhausted and their work ethic and offensive production took a significant dive.
Consistency may be the biggest key for the Rangers next season because it encompasses all of the other keys to success.
There is no merit for those teams that play well during the regular season and then grow inconsistent once the playoffs roll around. So if the Rangers want to be legitimate Cup contenders, they'll need to receive consistent offensive production from all four lines, while also staying healthy.
It's a long season, and they cannot afford to lose their identity again when the playoffs arrive.