The captain thinks the New York Rangers have learned the lessons from last year’s disappointing playoffs, a run that ended prematurely in the Eastern Conference Finals. And for Ryan McDonagh, those lessons will hopefully help the team this year.
It wasn’t supposed to end that way, not last year for the Rangers, who captured the Presidents’ Trophy for the league’s best record. The Rangers skated off the ice a game short of the Stanley Cup Final, worn down from the series before against the Washington Capitals and perhaps just overall fatigue from a regular season push to finish atop the NHL in points.
They looked tired by the time they played the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference finals, something this season's Rangers are hoping to avoid.
“I think we understand how small and how close the differences between winning and losing, between advancing and having your season come to an end," McDonagh told Metro this week. "We had a great regular season where we didn’t have to stress, so to speak, to get into the playoffs. But once we got into the playoffs, it is a whole new ballgame. One or two plays can be the difference between you advancing and you having the season end.
“Everyone has a purpose, everyone has a big role. It might come down to your role. We’re are focused on trying to accomplish it.”
It is an exciting time for the Rangers and for hockey in this city in general. The New Jersey Devils are having a good season and the New York Islanders have moved to Brooklyn and are third in the Metropolitan. All of which means that a town not exactly known as a hockey town is getting some serious ice burn.
McDonagh senses the excitement and the rivalry of all three teams playing well.
He also acknowledges that his teams' success last year has led to a growing fanbase, in particular with younger fans.
All of which has led McDonagh to hop on board with Delta Air Lines, which is offering a ‘Fly Like a Pro’ grand prize where a lucky fan will be able to travel on a private jet next year to a road game.
He thinks it will be eye-opening for fans to see how the team travels, especially as Rangers fans become more educated on the league and the ‘Blueshirts.’
“Impressed by what they know - pretty much inside what is going on with the team, guys getting called up or down, transactions being made, how guys are playing, who is injured, who is coming back,” McDonagh said. “It is great to know that the fanbase is so in tune with the team, want us to succeed so much, are behind you so much at home, it makes it exciting to be a part of.”