New York Rangers coach Peter Laviolette.

New York Rangers coach Peter Laviolette. Credit: AP/Paul Vernon

He is the voice of the most famous call in Rangers history.

Howie Rose’s “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau” call on Stephane Matteau’s double-overtime goal in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals en route to the Rangers’ first Stanley Cup since 1940 lives on in memory.

That also happens to be the last time the Rangers won the Cup. But they have an excellent chance this season as winners of the Presidents' Trophy for the most regular-season points.

Last year’s Presidents' Trophy winners, the Boston Bruins, were eliminated in the first round by Florida. Can the Rangers avoid that fate and make a deep run that could bring another Cup to Broadway?

“I think they're built a little better for it now than they were earlier this season, before the deadline,” Rose, the former Rangers and Islanders broadcaster and longtime Mets radio play-by-play man, told Newsday on Wednesday at Citi Field. “I don't know that you need to necessarily shake off winning the Presidents' Trophy, but you can't lock into any false sense of security because of it. As the Bruins proved last year, it guarantees you less than nothing.”

Rose said the secret weapon the Rangers might have in the playoffs – other than their talent, including the players they added at the trade deadline – is coach Peter Laviolette.

Rose was broadcasting the Islanders when Laviolette made his head-coaching debut on Long Island during the 2001-02 season. The Islanders made the playoffs for the first time since 1994 before falling to Toronto in a seven-game first-round series.

“The one thing that's really interesting to me,” Rose said, “is that I remember Peter Laviolette’s first year with the Islanders because that was his first year as an NHL head coach. They made some dramatic improvement with personnel that summer . . . But you saw it instantly. You didn’t even have to know a whole lot about hockey if you'd seen the Islanders for the five or six years before. When Peter got there, there was a structure.

“I even remember saying on the air very early in that great run that they had at the beginning of that season, I said, ‘You can tell this is a really well-coached team.’ And I think you could say the exact same thing about the Rangers now.

“In fact, the Rangers’ start to this year really mirrored what the Islanders did that ’01-02 season under Laviolette. That playoff series that year with the Maple Leafs was just such a grind physically. You looked at the Islanders' personnel and said, ‘Can they grind their way through a series?’ Well, they ended up taking them seven, and I think that this Ranger team is way more talented than that Islander team, and deeper. So I think they're equipped to make a pretty long run."

Laviolette, who won the Cup with Carolina in 2006, said earlier this week: “The boxes are checked. It was a good regular season. You’ve got to do well, in this part of the process, in order to get a chance to play for the Cup, and so we’re able to do that. And I think the guys are really excited to move forward. We’re looking forward to that and getting going in the playoffs.’’

More Rangers


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months