After game one of the Eastern Conference Finals, when the Rangers beat the Canadiens 7-2 and Carey Price got knocked out for the rest of the series with an injury, it seemed inevitable that New York would be headed to the Stanley Cup Final. Well, that indeed ended up being the case, but it was not easy for the Rangers. Montreal made sure of that.
New York took Game 2 as well, but then Montreal's new netminder, Dustin Tokarski, had a huge Game 3, leading the Habs to a win. The two teams then exchanged wins, sending us to Game 6 in New York. There, Henrik Lundqvist pitched a shutout, and Dominic Moore found the back of the net, and now the New York Rangers are off to the finals for the first time since the 1993-1994 season, when they won their first Cup since 1940.
Obviously, we shall never know what would have happened had Price not gotten hurt, but Tokarski was not the issue in this series. Nothing was, really. Four of the games were close, and two were won handily, one for each team. Tokarski had not had any NHL success before this, although he had played well in the AHL, so he was a wild card. His performance was admirable. Also, he has The Tick on his mask, which is cool. Meanwhile, Cam Talbot, Lundqvist's backup, has a Ghostbusters themed mask that includes the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. THEN, there's Peter Budaj, who backed up Price and Tokarski in this series, has Ned Flanders on his mask, making him the winner. A fine series of goalie mask designs.
Not a fine series for hits, though. There were some bad hits that led to injures, such as Derek Stepan's broken jaw, and there was a lot of squabbling between these two teams. Suspensions were handed out to a few players, including one given to Daniel Carcillo for hitting a linesman. However, Stepan came back big, Lundqvist was great, and the Rangers earned the win in the series.
The Rangers will not be the favorites in the Stanley Cup Final. They likely will be major underdogs. They are here, however. Nobody else in the East can say that. Plus, with a goalie like King Henrik, anything can happen.