“Winning the Presidents’ Trophy is not an easy thing to do; just look at the teams right now fighting to get into the playoffs,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “It’s a challenging thing and I think for our group it’s just one step in the direction that we’re looking to get to. I’m very proud of our group, but we all know that we’re going to be judged by what we do in the playoffs, so this is a first step.”
The Rangers have won the Presidents’ Trophy in 1991-1992 and in 1993-1994. They won the Cup in 1993-1994. Incidentally, they also reached 52 games that season for a total of 112 points. This season, their record is 52-21-7 with two games to go.
The Blueshirts have been on a tear lately, too, having won nine of their last 10 road games. They have at least one point in 10 of their past 11 games and lead the NHL with 27 road wins and a .692 road win percentage.
Vigneault is just the second NHL coach to win the Presidents’ Trophy three times, with Scotty Bowman having won the honour four times.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Ryan McDonagh said. “Like any team, we had to handle adversity, injuries and ups and downs. To say we won the regular season is a huge confidence boost and a huge reassurance what this team is capable of doing. We just needed to trust in the system and have everyone play their roles. When we come ready and prepared, we can do good things.”
Those good things are certainly starting to pile up. The Rangers are scary-good going into the third period, for instance: in the past 159 games, New York has gone 149-1-9 when they’re up going into the final frame.
This is a team that really has it together and they’ll have home ice advantage, which really doesn’t matter. They’re clicking on all cylinders and should be able to make a meal out of the opposition. They’ve completely owned the Devils this season, for one, having swept the season series. They’re tops in the NHL in five-on-five and luckily they haven’t needed their power play, which isn’t at all effective. They are effective on the kill, thank goodness.
For now, the Rangers have won the regular season. But there will be no rest for Broadway, as this hockey club has a lot to prove in the post-season.
“We’ll approach our remaining two games the same way we approach every game, with good habits,” McDonagh said. “We’re competitors all the way. The games may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but you want to be playing well and feeling good about yourself before a long playoff run.”