The 24-team playoff format the NHL presented last week has the New York Rangers squaring off against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The odds are slightly in the favor of the Rangers since they defeated the Hurricanes each time they met this season, which turned out to be a nice 4-0 record.
An argument might be made that the Hurricanes have an advantage due to having time during the pause in play to finish getting to full strength.
Either way, this could be a matchup that only fans of both teams care about until a victor is determined.
So, now that the NHL has unveiled their playoff plan, many New York Ranger fans are wondering what it really means for their beloved team. As the end of the season drew nearer, the Rangers appeared to be on a small roll. Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad were putting up points like supermen and Tony DeAngelo was fourth among defensemen in points. Despite sometimes shooting themselves in the foot, it seemed like the Rangers were finally deciding to get their act together in hopes of making the playoffs.
Then, things came to a screeching halt.
The Rangers now have the opportunity to show their fans and the rest of the NHL that despite being a young and inexperienced team, they can compete and work through the grind of a playoff series. However, they need to keep in mind that just because they defeated the Hurricanes in the regular season doesn’t mean they will beat them in the playoffs. Ranger fans were front-row witnesses to that fact in the 1993-94 season after defeating the New Jersey Devils in all their regular-season matches only to have to fight through all seven games in the playoff series against the Devils to make it to the Stanley Cup Final.
With all the questions about the Rangers racing through their minds, New York hockey fans should take the time and ask themselves if they are ready for the exhilaration and heartbreak which comes with the playoffs.
Wait, you thought that was a legitimate concern? Oh, of course they’re ready.
They always are, and through the duration of the Rangers’ time in the playoffs, fans will get to see just how well the rebuild is really going … especially if they can make it past Carolina.
With everyone shut down since March 12, the team which can find its game and groove quicker will be the one most likely to prevail. Rangers fans can only hope the time off hasn’t dulled the skills of Panarin and Zibanejad. Both have playoff experience, and the dynamic duo will need to show they are back and ready to grab more points to lead the Rangers to a series win over Carolina.
No matter the outcome, the playoffs will give players on the team without playoff games under their belt the opportunity to experience exactly what it takes to make a playoff run.
They just have to decide what they really want. There’s no doubt they will give it their all, but what comes after that is up to them.
If they lose to the Hurricanes, does it make them angry and upset enough to go into next season wanting to make up for it? If they beat the Hurricanes and advance, will they show their fans that the rebuild is working and in doing so criticize to the rest of the hockey world that has been ambivalent towards them this season?
Both are valid questions they must ask themselves depending on the outcome of their playoff run.
The experience and camaraderie gained from a playoff run can sometimes be more meaningful and valuable than any other teaching tool. It will lend itself well to moving the Rangers past the rebuild and into a force to be reckoned with for seasons to come.