A wing and a prayer- why I like the New York Rangers
It seems like forever since Milan Lucic talked smack in the hand shake line. The Boston Bruins exited the playoff stage 22 days ago after losing to the Montreal Canadiens in 7 games. Since then, the New York Rangers have won the Eastern Conference, and the LA Kings will represent the West.
The Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight, and if you are like me, it’s no fun to watch unless there is an emotional interest. I am going with New York, and here is why.
Brian Boyle. I have known his parents, Judy and Artie Boyle since our kids went to grade school together at St. Paul’s School in Hingham, MA. The Boyle’s have 12 children, with Brian right in the middle. Artie still plays hockey in the Sunday night men’s league. He is also a cancer survivor with a miracle story that defies all science. Brian is getting married later this month- can you imagine going to a wedding and drinking champagne out of the Lord Stanley’s mug?
Martin St. Louis. This 38 year old, and former scoring champ came to the Rangers from the Tampa Bay Lightning at the trade deadline in March. He went 14 games without a goal. St. Louis went six playoff games without a point before his mother, Frances St. Louis died suddenly of a heart attack at age 63. The Rangers were in the middle of what appeared to be a losing battle against Pittsburgh. St. Louis went home to see family for one day, but returned for New York’s 5-1 win in Game 5.
St. Louis did not score in that game- but his team came to life. Suddenly, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was unbeatable.
“We flipped a switch,” said Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello. ” I believe it was each guy saying, Marty is here. What excuse do we have? “
The series went back to New York for Game 6. Rangers fans chanted St. Louis name on his opening shift. He responded by scoring the first goal in the Rangers 3-1 win. St. Louis then did something we don’t see often except for milestone goals- he pocketed the puck. Good for him- after all, it was Mother’s Day.
The Rangers beat Pittsburgh in 7 games- inspired by a teammate grieving the loss of his mother.
The funeral for Frances St.Louis was held between Games 1 and 2 of the Rangers next series with Montreal. The entire Rangers team attended.
St. Louis scored the overtime winner against Montreal in Game 4. The Rangers went on to win the series in 6 games.
The New York Rangers are making their first Stanley Cup appearance in 20 years. They are playing on the wings of an inspired teammate, and a hockey mom who died too young.