GREENWICH, Conn. -- David LaRusso of Greenwich remembers what it was like when the New York Rangers won their last Stanley Cup in 1994.
“It was total bedlam,” said the owner of sports store Rink & Racquet on Railroad Avenue in Greenwich. “Everyone wanted Rangers stuff. Even the non-hockey people wanted Rangers stuff.”
LaRusso hopes history repeats as the Rangers carry a 2-0 lead over the Montreal Canadiens in their Eastern Conference final entering Thursday’s Game Three.
He’s surprised how well the Rangers have done ever since coming alive from a 3-1 deficit in the previous series and winning three straight games to topple the Pittsburgh Penguins.
LaRusso never imagined the Rangers, who looked sluggish and struggled with their power play in the first few games of the Penguins series, would be this close to the finals.
He points to a few key players for the turnaround: Brad Richards, goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Chris Kreider and Riverside resident Martin St. Louis. Kreider brings an element to the team that few players have, LaRusso said.
“He is a guy with speed and a huge body,” he said of the 6-foot, 3-inch 230-pound forward who knocked out the Canadiens star goalie Carey Price for the series by slamming into him in Game 1.
The further the Rangers go into the playoffs, the better it is for his business, said LaRusso, a lifelong Rangers fan. Many fans stop at his store to buy Rangers items before catching the train to a game.
But John Mandato of Long Island can only hope his team makes the finals some day. Mandato, whose son Luca, 12, plays with Stamford-based Connecticut Kings Peewee Major squad, would like to see the Rangers make the finals – even if he is an Islanders fan.
“If they get to the Cup I think it will be awesome,” Mandato said of the Rangers. He doesn’t think his Islanders will be in the finals anytime soon.
“They just seem to have it,” he said of the Rangers, who have jelled as a team.
But even if the Rangers make the finals, Luca has no doubt who will win.
“The Blackhawks,” said Luca, a Chicago fan, as he reeled off the names of players on the team.
The Blackhawks are currently tied 1-1 in their best-of-seven Western Conference finals with the Los Angeles Kings.