Sports: "The Glass is More Than Half Filled"……

In the end it was almost as much a battle between two dates as between two teams. It was March 26 versus April 8. The New Jersey Devils came into the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs having not lost a game since March 26; eleven straight wins. By contrast, the New York Rangers came into the playoffs having not won a game since April 8; five straight loses. One team was playing its best hockey of the season and one team its worst of the season. In the end March 26 prevailed. Yesterday afternoon the Devils swept the Rangers out of the playoffs. The Devils winning streak now stands at fifteen games and the Rangers losing streak at nine.

As depressing as the Rangers collapse has been I am taking an uncharacteristic “glass half full” view of things. Back in September when I looked at a New York Ranger team hit the ice with players named Betts, Strudwick, Moore, Prucha, Malik, Rozsival and Ward I said to myself “Who the hell are these guys?!?!?!”. Worse yet I was convinced that this team was going to be as bad as everyone thought. Then something happened, these guys were actually pretty good. They were young, hungry and never stopped working. Furthermore, they were winning games. Then a few other things happened. First, Jaromir Jagr found the fountain of youth and once again became the best player on the planet. He finished the season holding every Ranger single season scoring record with 54 goals and 123 total points. He was simply magnificent and unstoppable most nights. Second, a 23-year old Swedish goalie by the name of Henrik Lundqvist made his mark at MSG and staked his claim as the rightful heir to Mike Richter. Not only did he win 30 games but also he was amongst the league leaders in many goaltending categories. Oh, and he backstopped Sweden to an Olympic Gold Medal at the Turin games. Then another 23- year old established a name for himself. A Czech sniper named Petr Prucha scored 30 goals and gave even more reason to hope. The Rangers now appear to have what they have lacked for many years; a core of young talent to build around. In the end the Rangers may have lost their last nine games but they won 44 and became only one of the few in New York Ranger history to collect 100 points in season. Not too bad for a bunch of has-beens and never-will-bes.

In the final analysis the Rangers appearance in this years playoffs was gravy on top of what was a great season of hockey. While I am depressed at being swept by the hated Devils I am not nearly as depressed as I will be next year at this time if they do not find a way to build on what they have accomplished this season. Next year will be the test. Was this year a rebirth or merely a last gasp???

Until the fall I leave you with one last LET’S GO RANGERS!!!!!!!

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