When the Rangers started the season in the toilet, I questioned everything about this team and franchise. Where’s the toughness? Where’s the heart? Why did they trade away all their grit from 2012? Can this team grind out wins?
Getting away from the black and blueshirt mentality from the 2011-12 season seemed like a folly of epic proportions.
But then things changed for me towards the end of December. Everything Vigneault was preaching about skating and puck possession was beginning to sink in. The defensive miscues that haunted the team in October & November evaporated. A much needed trade for Dan Carcillo added an element of toughness and arrogance the team was missing. And low and behold they started winning.
I began to see the philosophy AV had for the team and it was working. No longer were they forced to solely rely on effort to win, they actually had enough skill to hang with the top tier teams and a system to bring out the best in those players.
Lovable characters such as Mats Zuccarello, Brian Boyle and Dominic Moore began to emerge the way Brandon Dubinsky and Brandon Prust had in the past
The Rangers had a head coach willing to give his players a long leash as well as time to find chemistry. And the team responded.
Instead of using fists and intimidation, the Rangers were using speed and puck possession and I bought in.
And when the Rangers made the bold decision to bring in a former Hart Trophy in exchange for a hard working, but offensively limited captain, it was Stanley Cup or bust.
Fast forward to today, with the Rangers staring at a do or die game against a far inferior Flyers team in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. I’m wondering to myself, was I duped? Was I sold a bill of goods? Did my fandom blind me once again with this team? Or is this just part of the journey for any team with championship dreams?
I guess I’m going to find out tonight.
Hey Rangers…I bought in, please don’t let me down.