With the National Hockey League (NHL) having a rough outline for a possible return in July. It seems to be a given that the league will finish the regular season and begin the chase for the Stanley cup. But a question, most fans have had when discussing a restart for the NHL is, what happens to the few teams that were in the hunt for the playoffs that were getting hot when the season was paused? What do they Do Just give up?
The answer for those teams is no, Don’t Stop fighting. A team that should take this advice is the New York Rangers. When the season was paused back in March the Rangers were sitting a game out of a playoff spot and had momentum coming off a strong 5-4-1 record in their last ten games before the stoppage. Each game showed promise and the team looked like a sleeper candidate to sneak into the playoffs and surprise people like Carolina in 2019. As the Hurricanes were a team that barely slipped into the playoffs and made some noise making it to the conference finals but getting swept by Boston. The Rangers were having the same performance before the NHL was forced to stop play due to the coronavirus. But is the team ready to take the next step to play in the playoffs or is the rebuild not finished yet?
Even with Artemi Panarin and the wonderful Mika Zibanejad finally morphing into one of the NHL’s most dominant centers the team still has a lot of youth with minimal playoff experience if any. With the Rangers being the youngest team in the NHL, can they compete against teams like Boston or Washington? In my opinion, I believe they would be dangerous but not great, as a team like the Rangers would need to have to be playing at 110% to beat teams such as Boston or Washington but it is possible as the NHL has shown fans, especially in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. Anything can happen to any team all it takes is a little bit of luck and the Rangers have the speed and power to compete with the big teams all they need is a little bit of luck.
Being in the playoff chase is exactly what this Rangers team full of youngsters need. The youth on this team in a league competing in meaningful games during the last few weeks of the season will give them a drive and a feeling of accomplishment. With that comes confidence and the sense that winning the Stanley cup is possible.
When the NHL starts again every single game is going to be valuable and even though the entire NHL experience will change. Once hockey is back the last few weeks of the season are going to be very important and very tough. With the NHL season restart possibly in the near future, every Ranger fan remembers the magical runs the teams of yesteryear went on. It may be time for the kids to get a taste of what is in the future. Making the playoffs this season would be a gift like no other, but the journey, as they say, is so much more important than the destination.