The New York Rangers: 1994 vs 2012

Growing up a New York Rangers fan on Long Island was torture. The Islanders won the championship 4 straight years, while the Rangers would have to wait a few decades to taste victory. Abused by chants of “1940,” the last time the Rangers won it all, there was finally sweet relief when the Blueshirts won the Stanley Cup in 1994. While it is too soon to declare the 2012 Rangers anywhere near that level, something special is happening.

The 1994 Rangers were one of the best stories in NHL history because they did it the hard way, with character, guts, and tons of heart. While their 7 game series against the Vancouver Canucks gave the rangers Lord Stanley’s Cup, it was the semifinals between the Rangers and rival New Jersey Devils that will. go down as one of the greatest if not the greatest series in hockey history. The Devils were on the verge of a dynasty, and one year later that dynasty would begin. The Rangers will built to win right away. It was now or perhaps another 54 years.

The Rangers would win that series in 7 games that would become instant classics. Yet what is talked about is less the Game 7 double-overtime heroics than the Game 6 guarantee.

The Rangers lost Game 5 at home. They were down 3 games to 2, and had to go on the road to New Jersey for Game 6. Mark Messier guaranteed victory in Game 6. Not since Joe Namath has a guarantee been this watched. After guaranteeing the win, the Rangers fell behind 2-0 after one period and still trailed 2-1 after two periods. Messier then became a one man wrecking crew. He guaranteed victory and personally delivered it. He ended the game with a hat trick, and the Rangers sealed the 4-2 win with a late empty net goal.

There were no guarantees before Game 7. The Rangers led 1-0 all game and gave up a stunning goal with 8 seconds left in regulation. The win in double-overtime prevented what would have been seen as an epic collapse. From Coach Mike Keenan to goalie Mike Richter to the appropriately named enforcer Jeff Beukeboom, the Rangers got it done.

The 2012 Rangers have Head Coach John Tortorella, Henry Lundquist minding the net, and Prusty as the enforcer. Like the 1994 team, the Rangers had the best record in 2012 in the regular season. Yet their first round matchup against # 8 seed Ottowa was just as tough as the 1994 series with the Devils. Like that series, the Rangers lost games 1 and 5 at home and found themselves down 3 games to 2 with Game 6 on the road. To lose to the Senators would have been an epic flameout and a cry of “Same old Rangers.”

There were no guarantees this time. This time the Rangers had a solid 3-1 lead late, but a questionable goal by Ottowa with 38 seconds left made many people nervous. The Rangers held on for the 3-2 win. In Game 7 at home, it was scoreless after 1 period but the Rangers had the 2-1 lead after 2 periods. The final minute of the game seemed to last just as long as the Game 7s of the 1994 semifinals and finals, but the Rangers hung on.

While this was only the first round, the Rangers showed guts, character, and heart. They face a Washington Capitals team that had to go to the brink of elimination to survive the defending champion Boston Bruins.

It has been 18 years since the Rangers won it all, and 18 is a multiple of 54. Maybe the stars are aligned. Maybe it is just a coincidence.

In 1994 Mike Keenan told his players before Game 7 in Madison Square Garden that there were no ghosts. There was no curse. Mark Messier then chased away any evil spirits and cemented his status as a New York sports legend.

The 2012 Rangers have a long way to go, but they have much to be proud of.

Great opening round series, Blueshirts.

Now roll up your sleeves and get your hockey hardhats on. The next series will be even tougher.

Let’s go Rangers!


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.