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There is nothing like New York City when one of their teams succeeds. They rally-behind, spark and breed confidence every step of the way. The New York Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens last night by the score of 1-0 to move onto the Stanley Cup Finals and New York could not be more electric.
It is the talk of the town and the buzz in the air. “Ranger Blue” is what anybody and everybody wants to discuss, and for good reason as this will mark the first time in 20 years the Rangers have made it to the finals (1994 Championship Team).
Endless adjectives could describe this team, but only this precise slogan can fit this team: “Team of Destiny.”
As one lovely-pretty lady recently told me: everything happens for a reason. Well, it's about time we all start to believe that.
The Marty St. Louis factor:
In the second-round of these very playoffs, the Rangers found themselves down three games to one against the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins. What we saw was a hopeless feeling. Feeling hopeless is something, but seeing hopeless is startling.
At that very same time, they were forced to deal with a teammate's personal struggle. Rangers forward Marty St. Louis’ mother passed away, and it was obvious to most he would not play in Game 5 of that series – a game that would eliminate the Rangers if they lost.
Well, what hockey fans witnessed was not a funeral (despite ESPN’s Barry Melrose declaring them done and buried), it was an awakening.
St. Louis played in Game 5, and the Rangers dominated the Penguins all night in Pittsburgh. They took that momentum and have ridden it to this point: only four-wins away from a Stanley Cup Championship.
To watch a team rally behind a teammate like that, lifts the spirit of everybody involved. It’s almost like their a “Team of Destiny.”
It is time for the King to be crowned:
The “Team of Destiny” has a dangerous weapon, their best player who resides between the pipes, Henrik Lundqvist. Lunqvist, 32 years old and ninth season in the league, has been dubbed “The King” by many of his peers. Hank is one of the best goalies in the game, but has yet to reach the promise land he needs to.
It finally seems to be his time.
Lundqvist has always played well in the playoffs, but sometimes frustrated fans with a lack of killer-instinct. We often watch goalies lift their game to a remarkable high and carry teams to championships. Finally, we can now say Lundqvist has done that.
Despite the Game 6 hiccup in Montreal, Lundqvist has absolutely amazing in the past nine games. He’s posted a 2.03 goals against average and a .928 save percentage throughout these playoffs, according to Rangers.NHL.com. Oh yeah, how about that save he made on Vanek last night? Wow, “Team of Destiny.”
Alain Vigneault is the magic man:
The 53-year-old head coach came to New York this past summer. Rangers General Manager Glen Sather made a calculated decision to fire John Tortorella and hire Alain Vigneault. It was calculated because under Tortorella the Rangers enjoyed success, including getting to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012.
The wound-up Tortorella preached defense and discipline while calm Vigneault preaches speed and free-flow. What has happened was the best of both worlds as the new coach took an already solid defensive team and expanded their mindset to fit the complete package.
Speed kills, and the Rangers have plenty. Depth also kills, and Vigneault will not make the same mistake he did in 2011 with the Vancouver Canucks as he did not roll four-lines and they ran out of gas against the Boston Bruins in the finals. People live and people learn: “Team of Destiny.”
Dominic Moore’s plight:
Dominic Moore began his career with the Rangers during the pre-lockout season of 2003-04. He played parts of six seasons with eight different teams before returning as a Ranger this season, according to HockeyReference.com. To say he’s a well-traveled man is an understatement.
Moore did not even play hockey last year which is the reason he amazes us today.
Towards the end of the 2012 season (with San Jose at the time), Moore received devastating news that would change his life forever. His wife, Katie Moore, was diagnose with a rare-form of liver cancer. He left his team and tended to Katie.
Moore continued that dedication as he chose to not play in the NHL the following season. Katie Moore passed away on Jan. 7, 2013.
He did not know if he would every play hockey again.
That was until Glenn Sather and the Rangers contacted him this past summer. Moore once again joined the blue shirts and has added that depth they desperately needed all season long. The fourth-line of Dominic Moore, Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett has been a blessing for this team.
They do all of the little things: checking, hustle, discipline and hard-nosed play in the corners. Moore however, has been outstanding as he’s had to fill in on other lines as well (due to injury). The versatility this guy has shown and the courage he’s played with all season long shows us how a real human being deals and overcomes major adversity.
So when you look up and down that Rangers lineup for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, try to point out a player that does not play a vital role for this team. Try to come up with a reason that they cannot get this done. If there’s one thing hockey fans know, it’s that the “Hockey Gods” are always a major factor during tournament time.
Again, “Team of Destiny.”