The 2010s produced a decade of highs and some lows for the New York Rangers franchise. In this time span, the Rangers have had three head coaches, two captains, two division titles, one Presidents’ Trophy, three Eastern Conference Final appearances and one Prince of Wales Trophy.
The decade began with the team, led by John Tortorella, having to push and struggle to find its way into the playoff scene. All changed in 2011-12, when they won the Atlantic Division to begin a run of three Eastern Conference Final appearances in four seasons and reach their first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years.
Unfortunately, they were unable to win the Cup, and as quickly as their Stanley Cup window was open, it closed. In Feb. 2018, Rangers brass penned a letter to the Broadway Blueshirts faithful, asking for their patience and support through a rebuilding period. The hope is that, soon enough, the Rangers will be in the upper echelon of the NHL standings.
Still, the 2010s were a fun time to be a Blueshirts fan. Here are five of the best moments of this decade.
5. One Offseason, Three New Names: Kakko, Panarin, Trouba
This entry is not like the others on this list; it has nothing to do with a particular game and it wasn’t during a time when the Rangers were a legitimate NHL contender. Yet, it brought excitement to New York hockey, thanks to the arrivals of wingers Kaapo Kakko and Artemi Panarin and defenseman Jacob Trouba.
Following a 2018-19 season of struggles that ended in a 32-36-14 record and 78 points, the Rangers began what they hoped would be the next, big step in their rebuild. It started with a little bit of luck, as they won big in the 2019 NHL Draft Lottery, scoring the second-overall selection. About a month later, John Davidson officially took over as team president.
The Rangers selected Kakko in the draft before acquiring Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets. They topped it off by winning the free agency sweepstakes and signed Panarin to a seven-year, $81.5 million deal.
All three appear to be performing well this season, with Panarin named a Metropolitan All-Star, but it’s still too early in their New York tenures to call these moves great successes. What they did produce, however, was the most memorable offseason the Rangers have had in a while — and the hope that they will contend again soon.
4. 3-1 Comebacks in Back-to-Back Playoffs
These two playoff series — from 2013-14 and 2014-15 — are together on this list due to their similarities. The Rangers managed come-from-behind victories after being down three games to one in a playoff series for the first and second times in franchise history — they became the first team in NHL history to accomplish such a feat in back-to-back postseasons.
After a Rangers overtime win to open up their 2013-14 second-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York dropped the next three, getting shut out twice in that span. Tragedy hit after Game 4 when Rangers winger Martin St. Louis‘ mother passed away.
St. Louis remained with the team, however, and New York stormed back and stepped up their offense over the next two games. St. Louis scored in Game 5. Game 6 was “emotion-charged Mother’s Day on which Marty St. Louis scored the first goal three days after the death of his mom…while his father and sister watched from the stands. Garden has never been as loud since the remodeling,” (from ‘The decade’s best Rangers, Islanders and Devils games’, New York Post – 12/21/19).
Meanwhile, Henrik Lundqvist held the Penguins to a goal in each of the series’ final three games, adding to his reputation as a clutch goaltender in elimination games, as the Rangers completed the series comeback.
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The Rangers found themselves in a similar scenario in the second round of the next postseason, dropping Game 1 in the closing seconds and struggling to get past Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals to fall into another 3-1 hole. Curtis Glencross nearly finished the series in Game 5 before Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh stole the win.
After the Rangers held off a near third-period comeback in Game 6, overtime was needed to decide Game 7, where Derek Stepan put things away and brought New York to another Eastern Conference Final appearance.
3. Triple-Overtime Thriller vs. Washington Capitals
Speaking of the Rangers and Capitals, the two teams produced another classic second-round postseason series three years earlier in 2012. There are unforgettable moments from this series for the Broadway Blueshirts — the first of which was in Game 3.
After both teams scored in the second period — a Ryan Callahan power-play goal for the Rangers and a John Carlson goal for the Capitals — the score remained 1-1 at the end of regulation. Overtime was needed…in fact, three were. The teams slugged it out for another 55 minutes of hockey.
This game is currently the 21st-longest overtime game in NHL history, and it marked both the longest overtime Rangers game since 1939 and the third-longest game in Capitals history. The game was finally put to bed on a goal by Marian Gaborik, giving the Broadway Blueshirts a 2-1 series lead.
2. Brad Richards, Marc Staal Complete Game 5 Comeback
Just five days after the triple-overtime battle, the Rangers and Capitals were even in the series at two games apiece when they met in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers’ Anton Stralman struck first in the middle of the first period, but Brooks Laich tied things up before the game went into the third period. After a power-play goal from Carlson early in the third, and the Blueshirts unable to answer, New York had its back to the wall.
But with 21.3 seconds left in regulation, Joel Ward was penalized and given a double-minor for high-sticking. With a power play and an empty net, the Rangers went all-out to get the game-tying goal. With six seconds left, Brad Richards sent MSG into a frenzy.
Marc Staal sweetened the pot by delivering his own power-play goal in overtime to complete the comeback. The Rangers won the game and went on to win the series in seven.
1. Rangers Advance to 2014 Stanley Cup Final
What other moment in this decade could possibly beat out the Rangers reaching the Stanley Cup Final, their first in two decades?
After defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the 2013-14 playoffs, the Rangers met the Montreal Canadiens with a spot in the Final on the line. While the series did not go a full seven games, it was still intense and emotional.
New York dominated Game 1, 7-2, as Chris Kreider collided with Canadiens goalie Carey Price, forcing him out of the series. After Lundqvist was just about unstoppable in Game 2, Game 3 saw Montreal get aggressive, with Brandon Prust and Daniel Carcillo earning suspensions after a hit to Stepan. The Habs took Game 3 in overtime, but the Blueshirts earned the overtime victory in Game 4.
After dropping Game 5, the Rangers only needed a Dominic Moore goal and Lundqvist to stop 18 of 18 shots on goal to claim Game 6, 1-0, to start the Prince of Wales Trophy celebrations on Broadway.
The New York Rangers had plenty of unforgettable moments over the last 10 years. While they never achieved the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup while the window was open, the team still produced memories that will last forever.
My name is Tom Albano and I cover the New York Rangers. I covered the team back in the 2015-16 season for a blog called Black and Blueshirts before the site network closed down. In addition, I’m a combat sports (i.e. MMA, boxing, etc) contributor for FIGHT SPORTS and host a weekly sports talk podcast called The Unspoken Podcast.