The exuberant celebrations of the Rangers' first Stanley Cup victory in 54 years had barely faded when the NHL's labor unrest flared up in the fall of 1994 -- and resulted in a significantly shortened season, just like this one.
The wrangling resulted in a lockout imposed Oct. 1, with 468 regular-season games and the All-Star Game being canceled, as owners and players battled over the imposition of a salary cap.
When the lockout ended, the pucks dropped on a 48-game season -- with intraconference games only -- from Jan. 20 to May 3.
The Rangers stumbled out of the gate, losing the opener to the Sabres, 2-1, and four of their first five games before a 6-2 win over the Senators. It was a roller-coaster year, with a strong February, a 4-8 March and a 9-6 April for the returnees, including Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves and Sergei Zubov. The Rangers finished 22-23-3 for 47 points and eighth place in the East, beating out the Florida Panthers by a point for the final playoff spot.
Messier was the leading scorer with 14 goals and 39 assists. Leetch had nine goals and 32 assists, and Graves topped the team with 17 goals.
The Islanders, under general manager Don Maloney, started 4-2-1 but went into a tailspin, finishing 15-28-5 (13th in the East) and missed the postseason for the first time in three seasons. Three of the wins came in the four games against the Rangers: on March 23, April 7 and April 28. Ray Ferraro, who left after the season as a free agent, was the leading scorer with 22 goals and 21 assists.
In the playoffs, the Rangers upset the top-seeded Quebec Nordiques -- who then moved to Colorado -- in six games before being swept by the Flyers in the conference semifinals. The fifth-seeded Devils, who finished with 52 points, captured the Cup, beating the Red Wings, 4-0, in the Finals.