(Long Island, NY) The New York Rangers are going to leave their die-hard fans as blue as their hockey sweaters if they don’t wake up fast. After shocking everyone in the league for the majority of the regular season, they have slumped at the wrong time. When it seemed as if they were going to capture the Atlantic Division en route to the post season, they disappeared as if they were Claude Rains.
The Broadway Blues only needed one win to clinch the division. They were unable to do so in their last five contests. The Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils were right there with them until the final night. The Flyers looked as if they were going to take the division after the Rangers were dropped by the Ottawa Senators at home, 5-1. They were winning and the Devils were down 3-1. All of a sudden the Devils make a comeback against the Montreal Canadiens and win 4-3 to come out on top. This was bad news for the Rangers, as well. Now they were going to have to face the red-hot Devils, who are on a double-digit winning streak heading into the ‘quest for the cup.’
As I type this article, the Rangers are down 3-1 after two periods in the opening game of the best-of-five opening round series at the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey. If Ranger fans are looking forward to attending a home playoff game after a nine year drought, they had better get to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night. If the Devils take the opening two games at home, there may only be one game in New York City.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to jinx the Rangers. I have been with them through thick and thin for almost four decades now. I wallowed in sorrow during the early 1980’s when the Islanders kept knocking them off in the playoffs year after year. I am still in a ‘1994 euphoric haze’ celebrating one of the most anticipated Stanley Cup championships in the sport’s history. It has been a difficult relationship with the Rangers. Am I the only guy that was convinced that we were going places when Steve Baker was our hot young goalie?
I am trying to be a realist and have an objective opinion as a journalist. I’m writing with my head and not my heart. I hope the minute I finish this, the Rangers go on a three goal spurt and send these Devils back to the Jersey swamps where they belong. But with Martin Brodeur guarding their net, it is a long shot. It is only one game if they do in fact do not have a miraculous comeback. But they way the two teams’ fortunes were heading into this series, the handwriting is on the wall.