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2011 stanley cup playoffs

The Canucks Made It Back to the Finals Before the Rangers Did

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are starting to wind down, which means it's the time of the year when Rangers fans have little else to do — in their official duties as Rangers fans, at least — besides mark the various anniversaries of the greatest season of hockey they've ever watched, and ever will watch. Today, for example, is the seventeenth anniversary of Mark Messier's hat trick against the Devils, and Friday is the anniversary of "Matteau, Matteau, Matteau." It's not lost on us that this is all a little depressing — re-living a series of events that happened way back in the early months of the first Giuliani term. But the Rangers haven't gotten past the second round in fourteen years. This year's team was plenty likable, but that doesn't change the fact that Rangers fans haven't had much to celebrate this millennium.

In any case, it's hard not to think of the 1994 today, now that the Canucks — the Western Conference champions that year — have made it back to the Stanley Cup Finals. And they did so in bizarre fashion:

Part of us wants to root for Vancouver to go all the way, and not just because we'd like to see Manny Malholtra lift the Stanley Cup. After all, Vancouver's disappointment in 1994 was New York's euphoria. The Canucks are no rival of the Rangers; they just happened to be the last team standing between the Blueshirts and that elusive Stanley Cup. Somewhere out there, there's a Canucks fan who truly believed, on the morning of June 14, 1994, that his or her team was going to complete the comeback and finally win the Cup. Their dreams were shattered; we threw a parade. Losing that Game 7 — the one that maybe even caused that theoretical Canucks fan we just invented to cry a little — gave us the greatest moment in Rangers history. So for that fan, sure, let the Canucks go ahead and win one. We just hope that if it doesn't work out — if it's Zdeno Chara or Vinny Lecavalier hoisting the Stanley Cup in a couple weeks — that the people of Vancouver handle the loss better this time.

Photo: Harry How/Getty Images