As Islander fans would love to tell you, there have been no Cups on Broadway in the last two seasons.
Ranger fans would tell you, the regular season doesn’t matter, just as long as you get into the big dance.
So really today’s 3-1 Islander win for positioning didn’t matter much in the big scheme of things.
The Rangers look like they are going to play Florida in the playoffs and the Islanders get the Penguins.
The bottom line is that they are both going to be playing at the end of next week.
But for the Rangers this loss still hurts.
“We’re in it to win hockey games right now,” said forward Derek Stepan. “You have to be playing your best hockey this time of year. I think they scored three quick ones on us. Certainly they are fixable, but we are in it to win it.”
Unlike the last two seasons, when the Rangers dominated the regular season and made the Cup Final and the Conference Final, this year’s team seems very streaky. They are not playing their best hockey right now, but that doesn’t matter next week. All teams left start anew. And the Rangers get a fresh start.
“You try to get good habits,” said goalie Henrik Lundqvist. “You want to prepare the same way. You want to get ready for a a good game. Of course it’s in the back of you head here you start focusing on the next week and the what’s ahead.”
Florida will not be easy. They have some nice young talent, along with Roberto Luongo and old buddy Jaromir Jagr. They will be ready come next week.
That said, if you are the Panthers, would you want to face Lundqvist and a team that went deep the last few seasons or the Isles with a backup goalie and no games in the second round since the first year of the Clinton Administration?
Don’t answer that, but the Rangers will remain dangerous until they are eliminated.
As for the Isles, they should be careful what they wish for. If they get by Pittsburgh, they will then face the big bad Capitals. Neither test is impossible, but it is definitely a more difficult road.
“We play to win,” said Isles captain John Tavares. “We approach each game of the season the exact same. We want to keep climbing. We show pride as a group and when you play against your rival it’s a lot of fun.”
For both teams the fun ends next week and the war begins. Two years ago the Kings were the sixth seed in the West and won the Cup. There’s always a chance and both teams could make a run come next week.
Only time will tell.
Everything else doesn’t matter.