Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is It Playoffs Or Bust For Rangers Season?

Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images
There is a consensus among followers of the New York Rangers that the future looks brighter than it has in some years.  This team will only continue to grow as the younger players on it mature and development into more consistent players at the NHL level.  Where there seems to be some disagreement is on how critical making the playoffs this season is to whether or not the year has been successful.  Today, two Rangers bloggers of whom I have great respect take different approaches to that topic.  Dave Shapiro at Blue Seat Blogs takes the approach that the season regardless of whether the team maintains it current playoff standing it has been a successful season.  John Merrigan at Canyon of Blueshirts argues that it is unacceptable for this team to miss the playoffs again this year.  Is one right and the other wrong?

Personally I tend to lean more in Dave’s direction while understanding where John is coming from.  The incorporation of so many young players this season and the experience they have gained for the future is more important to the long term fate of this franchise then getting in the playoffs for me.  The growth in the games of Dubinsky, Callahan, Anisimov, Staal, Girardi, Boyle while rookies Derek Stepan, Michael Sauer, Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello have all shown their abilities at this level is such a massive positive for this season.  That is not to discount the value and experience making the playoffs would have for those same players as they advance in their careers.  You do have to get to the playoffs to learn the lessons of how to win there.

We will all be upset if the team misses the playoffs considering the work and effort they put into the season to this point and how they basically have control over their destiny with just fourteen games to go. It will hurt when added to how the team missed out on the playoffs last season, but the difference for me will be in the hope for the future which was not nearly as strong when they failed last season.  This team is good enough to get in.  This team has done enough to deserve to get in this year.  Failing to do so would certainly dampen some of the success of this year, but it will not wash it away.

I expect them to finish off the task, get in, and at the very least give their first round opponent the scare of their lives if not outright beat them depending on the matchup.  I don’t buy the Cinderella idea that if they get in they can win it all, but if they play to their capabilities then they will be an extremely tough out come playoff time. 

Tell me what you think.