Chris Kreider #20 of the Rangers shoots the puck against Jaccob...

Chris Kreider #20 of the Rangers shoots the puck against Jaccob Slavin #74 of the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period in Game Six of the Second Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on May 16, 2024 in Raleigh. Credit: Getty Images/Grant Halverson

The New York area last secured an NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL championship on Feb. 5, 2012, when the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI.

That makes this the longest such drought since 1905-21.

Two months after the Giants' win, Chris Kreider made his Rangers debut, fresh off an NCAA title at Boston College, in Game 3 of a first-round series against Ottawa.

Those Rangers reached the Eastern Conference Final before losing to the Devils in six games, a narrative arc that came full circle on Thursday night.

Not only is Kreider still around at age 33, but he scored three consecutive goals in the third period to lift the Rangers to a 5-3 victory that eliminated the Hurricanes in six games in the teams’ second-round series.

In doing so, Kreider furthered an era for which he was in on the ground floor and which ought to be properly celebrated before the Rangers move on to the second half of their Stanley Cup quest.

This is the fifth time in the past 13 seasons that they have made it at least to the conference finals, with one trip to the Cup Final in 2014.

The Lightning, with six, are the only other team with at least five appearances in the NHL final four during that span.

No, that is not the goal. Winning the Cup is, and the Rangers have not done that in 30 years. Everyone involved in the organization knows that.

But it beats most of what else we have seen over the past dozen years.

Only the Yankees, with four appearances in the ALCS, come close to matching the Rangers for deep playoff runs since 2012.

The Islanders have made two appearances in their sport’s final four, the Mets one. The Giants, Jets and Nets have had none.

The Knicks have none pending Sunday's Game 7 against the Pacers. 

The Mets are the only metropolitan-area NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL team other than the Rangers to appear in a championship round since Super Bowl XLVI.

The Liberty joined them last season, but like the 2014 Rangers and 2015 Mets, they lost.

NYCFC won the MLS Cup in 2021, a rare glimmer of unqualified success in these parts.

And remember, the Rangers have accomplished this through two distinct eras, even though Kreider did span both.

They reached conference finals in 2012, ’14 and ’15, announced a full rebuild in 2018, then were back for 2022 and ’24.

That is not easy. It has involved some bold leadership decisions, including five head coaches and a dramatic front-office reset in 2021.

Now, here we are. The quest is not complete. Sixteen victories are required, and the Rangers have only eight.

They got as far as 13 wins in 2014 before losing in five games to the Kings.

Kreider was 23 then. Matt Rempe was 11.

Do the Rangers have what it takes this time to break the tape at the finish line? They do, yes.

Getting past the Hurricanes might have been the biggest test of all, but that series exposed some Rangers vulnerabilities, such as overreliance on special teams.

The trick against Florida will be consistent contributions up and down the roster and the ongoing brilliance of goaltender Igor Shesterkin.

This Rangers team is built to succeed. Anything less than total victory will be a disappointment.

But during the lull between now and Game 1 on Wednesday, take a moment to appreciate what has happened to this point.

The Rangers are good, and they have been good more often than they have not during the past decade-plus.

That used to be small consolation around here, but compared to the recent alternatives, it’s not too shabby.


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