So who are these guys who ruined the Capitals' season, the remarkable Rangers, New York's latest "Amazins?"
Who would have thought -- certainly not the Capitals -- that this assortment possibly could be an NHL semifinalist? They include: the son of a Manitoba legislator, a Wall Street intern, a Yalie who wrote his senior thesis on John Maynard Keynes, a 30-year-old French Canadian veteran who had been embarrassed by being sentenced to midseason exile to Hershey, various Scandinavian representatives, a fellow named Red who grew up in Wales, a German, a guy who went to the Calgary Stampede last summer never dreaming he just might go back to Calgary for the Stanley Cup finals and a goalie whose name requires a major effort to spell. For short, just call him Beezer.
Why worry? Clearly, they're not the Flyers.
"This wasn't a script, it wasn't luck, it was a collective effort by the team," said Rangers Coach Ted Sator in his team's jubilant locker room after the Capitals had been conquered Sunday night.
First, Sator. He's 35 and comes not from Moose Jaw but Bowling Green State University. He could pass for a young, midtown Manhattan executive. Whatever happened to coaches named Toe, Punch, Boom Boom, Newsy, Bep, Pit and Jean-Guy?
But look at the team Sator has put together. Consider its twin human pillars: the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Willie Huber and the even-taller Kjell Samuelsson, 6-6, 225. Bad boys blessed with the give of concrete.
Bob Brooke is the Ivy Leaguer, an erudite and perceptive fellow. After the Rangers' victory, New York reporters kept asking him, "Do you believe it? Do you believe it?" "I believe it," he said. "I believe it."
There's James Patrick, but he's only 22. And there's George McPhee, out of the Bowling Green pipeline, just a plain boy from Guelph, Ontario, with a laconic humor. Asked his reaction to Sunday night's madness, he replied, "It was just another game."
Pierre Larouche -- now there's a good-sounding hockey name. And yet the two-goal hero of Sunday night, who scored 53 goals one season for Pittsburgh, 50 goals another season for Montreal, where he played on two Stanley Cup championship teams, and 48 goals one season with the Rangers, was demoted this season for 45 games with the Hershey Bears. He took it like a penitent, and now in the playoffs has scored eight goals -- which is almost as great as Gretzky.
"John Vanbiesbrouck was outstanding," said Larouche. "That was the difference. When we beat Philly, we felt fortunate. Now we believe in ourselves."
Vanbiesbrouck is "Beezer." (If you can get that spelling, how about Reijo Ruotsalainen?) Vanbiesbrouck comes from -- Detroit. Unlike olden, hardened goalies Gump Worsley or Jacques Plante, the 22-year-old "Beezer" is hardly larger than an altar boy. But against the Capitals, he was as effective as any legend.
And in victory, as fresh as morning. "What an emotional game," he said. "It was an intense, deafening feeling out there."
Of course, the Rangers haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1940, 23 years before Vanbiesbrouck was born.
"Beezer, Beezer," the crowd chanted.
They add up to just about a .500 team.
Not to worry.