Last year, Brad Richards was in John Tortorella's doghouse as the Rangers exited the postseason relatively early. This year, Richards scored the game winner, on the power-play no less, as New York eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games. Meanwhile, Tortorella just lost his second head coaching job in as many years. Score one for Richards.
And score one for the Rangers. They had a tough matchup with the Penguins, and they found themselves down three games to one to boot. Then, they won games five, six, and seven, games wherein Henrik Lundqvist only let in one goal apiece, and now they are headed to the Eastern Conference Finals to face another Original Six team. It's been a good year for those teams. Unless you are Toronto, of course.
This is a very good Rangers team, with some forward depth, especially if Rick Nash ever scores, and of course Lundqvist in net. He can carry them to the Stanley Cup Final, if not the Cup itself. They've already had to play 14 games, and I won't like their chances against the Bruins, or even the Canadiens, but they are here, and that's all they can ask for.
As for the Penguins... well, there will be hand wringing, but in the end all that's happened is that one really good team squeaked by another really good team. Sure, Sidney Crosby "struggled," but that's silly to say just because he only scored one goal. Evgeni Malkin played well, the defense played well, even Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't a real issue by and large. Yeah, maybe one good game from Crosby or one Fleury shutout would have changed everything, but that doesn't happen sometimes. There is no reason for panic or worry. No reason to let Dan Bylsma go or to shake things up. They'll be back next year.
However, let us not overlook the fact the Rangers won in order to lavish attention on the Penguins losing. New York is not an afterthought. Not when they are in the NHL's final four.