In 1942, the Rangers became New York's only hockey team - a distinction they would hold for the next 30 years. The folding of the Americans had left just six NHL teams to compete for the Stanley Cup from the 1942-43 season all the way through the 1966-67 season - the final year before the modern NHL expansion began. The six teams that played during these golden years would forever be known as the Original Six, even though several of them, including the Rangers, were not part of the NHL when the league began operating in 1917.
Unfortunately, the Original Six era wasn't good to New York. Throughout the 1940s, the club struggled. Between 1943 and 1955, the Rangers made the playoffs only twice, although the second trip in 1950 took the Blueshirts all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they pushed Detroit to the second overtime of Game 7 despite having had to play home games in Toronto because the circus was at MSG. That 1950 team was the ultimate Cinderella squad.
Under .500 in the regular season, the Rangers stunned Montreal in the opening round before giving the regular-season champion Red Wings a major scare by taking a 3-2 lead after five games.
While the 1940s and most of the 1950s were lean years for the organization, each Rangers team featured outstanding individual talents: Buddy O'Connor became the first Ranger to win the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 1947-48, and goalie Chuck Rayner won it again in 1949-50 en route to his dramatic effort in the 1950 Cup Finals.
A fertile farm system and deft trades would eventually improve the team's fortunes. Hall of Famers Andy Bathgate, Dean Prentice, Harry Howell, Bill Gadsby and Gump Worsley boosted the team into the playoffs by 1956. Bathgate became the club's captain and all-time leading scorer, winning the Hart Trophy for the 1958-59 season. Howell was recognized as one of hockey's best defensemen and received the Norris Trophy in 1966-67.