They’re calling tonight ‘the most important hockey game in New York in 20 years’

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From the New York Post:

It has been 20 years since the Rangers had a chance at home to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, 20 years since Stephane Matteau ended Game 7 of that epochal Battle of the Hudson in 1994.

And so there is something different about Thursday night’s match at the Garden that could accurately be defined as the most important hockey game to be played in New York City in two decades.

The Rangers, of course, went on to win the Stanley Cup in 1994, hoisting the trophy for the first time since 1940, setting off a city-wide celebration, capped off by a memorable ticker-tape parade.

But the Rangers, despite their financial heft, haven’t been back to the final since. In fact, they missed the playoffs in eight of the 15 seasons following their 1994 triumph, including a stretch of seven straight misses from 1997 to 2004.

Prior to this year, only twice since 1994 had the Blueshirts advanced to the conference finals; they lost in five to Philadelphia in 1997, and they were eliminated in six by the Devils two years ago.

So yeah, big game tonight.