If the New York Rangers don't win the Stanley Cup, it'll be just as big as a failure as the Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings not advancing to the second round.
When looking at the remaining playoff field, the only team that really stands out are the New York Rangers.
No, it's not because they're seemingly the only big-market or Original Six team left in the playoffs.
Just look at their roster and then look at the other teams.
The New York Rangers have everything from goaltending to scoring to defense. They already received a major scare when the Ottawa Senators took a 3-2 lead against them in the first round.
Their response in that series showed that they have thrown every bit of complacency that may have infiltrated their system out of the window. They're not going to be playing any lackadaisical hockey anymore.
John Tortorella won't let them.
Besides having an experienced Stanley Cup winner as their head coach, the Rangers have elite scorers like Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik. With those names, they won't have a shortage of goals.
They also have experienced vets like Ruslan Fedotenko and Mike Rupp, who each have game-winning goals in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Fedotenko scored his in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning while Rupp did it in 2003 with the New Jersey Devils. Fedotenko was also an instrumental piece in the Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup run back in 2009 when he scored seven goals and seven assists that spring.
The Rangers' defense includes a plethora of young stalwarts like Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto. That top four is going to stifle opponents for years to come. It seems like they've come around this season, and they're officially one of the stingiest defensive units in the league.
Finally, they have a goaltender who's up for the Hart Trophy in Henrik Lundqvist. That's like having a pitcher be a candidate for the MVP Award in baseball. Lundqvist's minute GAA of 1.97 and save percentage of .930 are particularly stunning when you consider he played most of his games against powerhouse Atlantic Division teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils.
It's pretty clear that the Rangers have everything they need for a Cup run. What helps their cause even more is that their competition in the Eastern Conference is not exactly stellar.
With the Bruins and Penguins getting knocked out, the Rangers have to deal with a Washington Capitals team that doesn't play defense and has a third-string goalie. The Rangers exposed Braden Holtby in Game 1 with three goals that were all earned by getting the puck to the net. The pressure may be getting to Holtby at this point.
After the Capitals, the Rangers will either play a New Jersey Devils team that barely beat the Florida Panthers (who had a minus-27 goal differential) or the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that forgot how to play defense when they came into the playoffs. Ilya Bryzgalov has more holes than Swiss cheese, and this is a defense that can allow goals in bunches, as exemplified by their first-round performance against Pittsburgh.
Throw in the fact that the Rangers will have home-ice advantage against all of these teams and suddenly the road to the Stanley Cup is pretty smooth for New York.
Once they get to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Rangers will have to deal with teams that aren't even close to matching up with them in terms of offensive firepower. The St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators are all elite defensive teams, but lack the scoring punch the Rangers have.
The Rangers not only have the names to put the puck in the back of the net, but their defense matches up well against the Western teams. In other words, they have the defensive prowess of the Western Conference powers, but they can also score.
The Rangers are the most complete team in the NHL, and it's not even close.