The New York Rangers have officially reached the postseason for the third consecutive year.
Despite early-season struggles that earned the squad an "overrated" label for much of the season, the team surged through its final stretch of the regular season to solidify a spot in the playoffs.
Although the Rangers began the lockout-shortened campaign as a Stanley Cup favorite following an offseason filled with splashy moves and heightened promise, New York didn't nearly look the part for much of the 48-game slate.
Following a loss to rival New Jersey in the 2012 Eastern Conference Final, the organization acquired five-time All-Star Rick Nash. The club immediately entered Stanley Cup-or-bust territory with the move.
“The Rangers are coming off a season in which they finished first in the East and made the conference finals, so anything short of a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals likely will be regarded as a failure," NHL.com columnist John Kreiser wrote last summer. "To say Nash will have big expectations on his shoulders would be putting it mildly.”
Although he suffered through a mild slump to open the season, Nash has predominantly met expectations, totaling 40 points in 43 games played as a Ranger.
However, the squad still just narrowly avoided being left on the playoff doorstep one season removed from winning the Atlantic Division for the first time since 1994.
So what went wrong in the Big Apple this season? New York, which will land somewhere between a sixth and eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, must learn from a rough first half if it hopes to fulfill lofty playoff expectations.