For the first time in 20 years, the New York Rangers are playing in the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals. The Rangers are the underdogs against their opponent, the Los Angeles Kings, but that hasn't stopped Rangers fans from getting fired up for the best-of-seven series.
And while Rangers fans are recognized as some of the most loyal in professional sports, many casual sports fans will be tuning in tonight for the first time this season. With that in mind, we thought we'd get you caught up on what you need to know about the "Broadway Blueshirts" before the puck drops.
And who better to talk Rangers hockey than legendary broadcaster Sam Rosen, who's been calling the team's games for 30 years on the MSG Network. Here are his takeaways:
1. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is on his way to joining the all-time greats...but a Cup wouldn't hurt.
"He's been here for nine years and he's the leader of the team. He's the team's backbone...building a reputation behind some outstanding legends in goal. Hall of Famer Eddie Giacomin never won a Stanley Cup. Mike Richter did win a Stanley Cup in 1994. Those are the great goaltenders whose numbers are retired [by the Rangers] and Henrik Lundqvist is on his way to that. He's won big tournaments. He's won [an Olympic Gold Metal] for Sweden in 2006, but this would be the biggest step in his career."
2. The series will come down to a battle between two of the world's elite goaltenders: Lundqvist and Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who was the MVP of the playoffs in 2012, when he led the Kings to the Stanley Cup.
"It does come down to goaltending. From the standpoint of the LA Kings, Jonathan Quick was spectacular two years ago. In this year's playoffs, watching him, a lot of people who look at him game-in and game-out say he's not as good as he was two years ago. But in my mind, when they've needed the big save in the playoffs, he's come through."
3. The Rangers enter the series without a team captain, after dealing fan favorite Ryan Callahan to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 38-year-old winger Martin St. Louis. And while he may be nearing the end of his career, St. Louis still has a lot left in the tank. He led the league in scoring as recently as last season, and has been the Rangers' most dynamic offensive player this postseason.
"Marty St. Louis is a future Hall of Famer. He's been a Stanley Cup champion with Tampa Bay in 2004, and he's become a leader in the locker room."
4. Down 3-1 and facing elimination by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, the Rangers turned their postseason fortunes around by coalescing around St. Louis, after the sudden death of his 63-year-old mother.
"Marty showed his love of the team by going to his...family's side, but then coming back in Game 5, and when the team saw him in the locker room, they rallied around that and there was a greater bond than there'd ever been before."
5. The Kings will be formidable opponents. The Western Conference is thought to be superior to the Eastern, and the Kings made it to the Finals by defeating the defending Stanley Cup champions the Chicago Blackhawks, in seven games. They won it all two years ago by defeating the New Jersey Devils in six games, and they boast this year's playoff MVP frontrunner, defenseman Drew Doughty.
"They have 17 players on their roster who have Stanley Cup rings, so they know what it takes. They're big, they're strong, they have good offensive players. How do the Rangers beat them? Using their speed....Puck possession. Make the Kings defend, and then get great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist."
6. He's picking the Rangers to win it in six games.
The Rangers' march to the Finals isn't the only thing worth celebrating for Blueshirts fans. Earlier this year, Rosen marked 30 years as the television voice of the New York Rangers. Here's a look at his accomplishments behind the mic.