The roller coaster ride that was the New York Rangers’ 2013 regular season has finally come to an end, and although it didn't seem likely a month and a half ago, there will be playoff hockey in the big city for the eighth time in nine years.
Their first-round opponents are, naturally, the Washington Capitals, because it wouldn't truly be the NHL playoffs without the two facing off at some point. It’ll be the fourth time in five years the Rangers and Caps meet in the postseason, and Washington will look to get equal with New York, who beat them in seven games last spring.
Despite the Rangers’ tumultuous regular season, they’ll be expected to at least match their playoff performance from a year ago. The defense is still intact; Henrik Lundqvist is still between the pipes, and of late, the team has been scoring. New York fans expect nothing short of a return to the Eastern Conference Finals.
It all comes down to execution. Playoff hockey truly is a different animal, and if the Rangers plan on being 2013’s version of the Los Angeles Kings, they’re going to have pay special attention to detail and leave it all on the ice.
Here’s a look at New York’s playoff blueprint, which outlines the specific areas of focus imperative to the team’s success.