Rangers flirt with history ahead of Game 3 battle vs. desperate Devils

Rangers match 1994 Championship team
New York Rangers’ Vladimir Tarasenko (91) celebrates with Adam Fox, middle, and other teammates after scoring against the New Jersey Devils during the second period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Newark, N.J., Thursday, April 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
AP Photos

The New York Rangers haven’t won a Stanley Cup Title since 1994. During that playoff run, New York swept a division rival in the first round in dominating fashion en route to a demolition of Eastern Conference opponents. 

While we’re only two games into the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Rangers have already begun to flirt with history set by that same championship year. 

In New York’s 5-1 victory in Game 2 against the New Jersey Devils, the Blueshirts dominated on offense, defense, and special teams as was the case back in Game 1. The identical scores in both games also set a mark that hasn’t been reached since the 1994 championship roster. 

By posting a 10-2 scoring margin combined from both playoff contests, the Rangers matched only the 1994 team’s goal differential alone in team history. Their flirtation with matching one of the greatest hockey teams in sports happens when they’ve dominated the Devils to levels few thought possible. 

Even though New York has overwhelmed the younger Devils, the focus for the team has always been on the next game: that comes with having an experienced group that has lost series holding a 2-0 series lead. 

“You go back to work tomorrow and get ready for Game 3. (Playoff) series are always different and this one is far from over. They are a real good hockey team and we know that we need to play our best game back in our building on Saturday,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said after his team’s Game 2 win. 

New York’s been on either side of a 2-0 series lead. The Rangers were down 2-0 to the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs and ended up winning that series in seven games. In the very next round, the Blueshirts took a 2-0 series lead but fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six. 

A big reason why the team has more confidence in themselves during this particular run is the addition of key offensive pieces at almost every forward line. The additions of Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane have directly helped the Rangers jump out to their current series lead with dominant play. 

Tarasenko has opened the scoring for New York in both games in New Jersey while Kane is second on the team with four points in two playoff games. Add in the scoring prowess of Chris Kreider (four goals), the passing efficiency of Adam Fox (six assists), and a top-notch powerplay unit (4/10) that shows the Rangers have simply overwhelmed a young but fast Devils roster. 

To match the Stanley Cup title team of 1994 is quite an accomplishment for the New York Rangers. But a 2-0 series lead in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs won’t be enough for a team with championship aspirations – even if it has come by way of two historic victories on the road. 

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