This second installment comes from our “On the Rink with Gootz” columnist Chris Hoeler, who I thank for helping me out with some additional hockey coverage this season. This article is titled, “A Step in the Right Direction”. Enjoy.
There was a scramble in front of the net as the puck bounced around, and it disappeared under Henrik Lundqvist and then reappeared on the stick of Adam Henrique. Just like that, the 2011/12 season for the New York Rangers ended as the New Jersey Devils and their fans celebrated their ticket being punched to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Los Angeles Kings. On the other side of the spectrum, the Rangers and their fans sat feeling like they had been punched in the stomach. That is the feeling you always get when your team’s season ends.
But while the pain slowly ebbs away there was so much this team did that fans can look back on. While the trip to Europe to start the season was only a few months ago, it seems like years considering how much this team developed together. One example is Ryan McDonagh, who went from a young player looking to solidify his position on the team to a top defenseman going up against the best players. Another is Dan Girardi who went from having to fill a concussed Marc Staal’s shoes to making the All-Star Team.