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Why They Will Win

Why Rangers will win Stanley Cup

Lundqvist's greatness, playoff experience of team, will pay off in championship

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Experience and excellent goaltending matters perhaps more than anything else in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The New York Rangers indisputably have both, which will be enough to carry New York to its first Stanley Cup in 22 years.

The Rangers reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 and played a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final last season. 

On paper, they are as good, if not better, than each of those teams and mostly because of goalie Henrik Lundqvist, a franchise pillar.

At age 34, Lundqvist continues to prove he is still one of the best goalies in the world.

The Rangers are a playoff-tested group, having played 44 playoff games since 2014, the most of any team in the League. They have 24 wins, second to only the 27 of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Thirteen full-time players, including Lundqvist, remain from the team that reached the Cup Final two years ago. J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast, bit players on that team, are major players this season. Seventeen players from last season are still with the Rangers.

New York's four-line rotation and versatility is better than what it had in 2014. That Eric Staal, acquired Feb. 28, can be used at either center or left wing and be deployed on the third line speaks to its depth.

Video: PIT@NYR: E. Staal buries Hayes' perfect feed

Fast quickly has become the key component to any line on which he plays. He has fit well with Kevin Hayes, a big center on the third line, responsible center Derek Stepan, skilled center Derick Brassard and checking center Dominic Moore.

The Rangers' depth at center is as strong as it has been in three seasons under coach Alain Vigneault because they have five players to fill four positions, including Brassard and Stepan, who are coming off strong regular seasons.

The fourth line with Moore, Tanner Glass and Viktor Stalberg has been, at times, the most consistent line, largely because of their aggressiveness on the forecheck. 

New York has enviable size on the wing with Rick Nash, a resurgent Chris Kreider and Miller. Mats Zuccarello lacks in size, but he makes up for it with skill. The offense suffered last season after he sustained a season-ending head injury in Game 5 of the first round.

The potential absence of defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who missed the final three games of the season with a right hand injury and is out indefinitely, could be a blow. 
However, Marc Staal stepped up his game in the latter stages of the regular season and Kevin Klein seems to fare well no matter his role. In addition, Keith Yandle is a dynamic offensive defenseman who forces the opposition to play on its heels.

The Rangers have had the look of a playoff team all season. Their experience and Lundqvist will give them a championship look this spring.

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