Sat 25 May 2013
To paraphrase Winston Churchill – never have so many owed so much to one goaltender. If I were Henrik Lundqvist, I would sue my New York Rangers teammates for lack of support. It was pretty disappointing for this Rangers fan to watch The King try to will his team to victory only to watch the rest of the team fall short of the urgency and desperation they showed in Game 4.
Leave it to Lundqvist to sum up the feelings of the Rangers faithful.
“I expected more for us and I hoped for more,” The Rangers goalie explained to BlueshirtsUnited.com. “It’s an empty feeling. The hardest thing is realizing that it’s over.”
While Lundqvist showed up to play all 14 playoff games, sadly the Rangers offense did not. The Blueshirts played nine one-goal games if you factor in empty net goals turned three games into two-goal decisions (ironically enough, all three were 3-1 losses). Of those one-goal decisions, the Rangers were 4-5.
Even more telling was the fact the Rangers were either shutout or scored just one goal in 6 of their 14 games, posting a 1-5 record,
Far too many times the Rangers were spending more time in the offensive zone looking to make the extra pass rather than put shots on goal, get traffic in front and hunt down rebounds and deflections.
“The last two games, we gave ourselves a chance to win,” Lundqvist said to Dan Rosen of NHL.com. “But it took us a couple of games to get there.
“I expected more from us,” he said. “Last year, a lot of things went our way. This was a different season. We have to learn from this.”
While the Rangers lost the series in five games, the two teams were not separated by much – even though Boston was the better and deeper team. Outside of the Rangers Game 2 loss, the other three defeats were games where the outcome could easily have swung the Blueshirts way.
Rosen offered the following take from Bruins center Gregory Campbell.
“They played hard. They’re built similar to us,” Campbell told NBC Sports Network. “They rely on everybody, and they really play a man’s game. It was a physical series; most of the games could have gone either way.”
For his part, Rangers coach John Tortorella fell on the sword for his team and took the blame in his post-game press conference.
“One of the big things in this series, and it falls on me it’s a big part of my job, is that I couldn’t get my top players to play consistently,” Tortorella lamented. “I need to take some responsibility to try and get them into spots to help us here. I thought that hurt us a bit.”
I am not sure what Torts could have done differently to get the likes of Rick Nash and Brad Richards to score more than one goal apiece or
The bugaboos that plagued the Rangers throughout the playoffs were in full force in Game 5. While the Rangers power play struck for a second straight game, they never were able to turn a one goal lead into a two-goal lead.
Unfortunately, the Rangers did not heed the lesson of that power goal which saw Dan Girardi’s shot from the point beat Tuukka Rask thanks to Brian Boyle’s screen. The Rangers, once again, failed to get enough traffic in front of a goalie.
The Rangers style of play in their defensive end cost them yet again as the Bruins forecheck pinned the Rangers deep in their own zone for stretches at a time. They expended so much energy getting out of their own zone that they were unable to launch any counterattack against the Bruins and the Rangers own forecheck was found wanting.
The Blueshirts are going to have to consider redesigning their defensive zone coverage next season. They need to stop constantly dropping sown low to clog up the shooting lanes because that style leaves the point men WIDE open.
It is a big reason why the Bruins defensemen scored seven of Boston’s 16 goals in the series – including Torey Krug’s record-setting coming out performance. The Elias Sports Bureau confirmed Krug is the first rookie blueliner to score four goals in his first five playoff games since the 1967 expansion.
“I just try to go out and play my game and hopefully make an impact,” the undrafted defenseman told Rosen. “I’m just trying to contribute any chance I get.”
You can bet there will be a lot of GMs trying to figure out why they didn’t take a flyer on the 5-foot-9 defenseman.
I might be wrong, but the Rangers did not seem to have the same zip they had in Game 4. I am not sure if they were physically tired or if it was a matter of their emotional level just being drained, but they never seemed to match the intensity they had in the last game at the Garden.
Despite that, the Rangers had a golden opportunity to tie the game about eight and half minutes into the third period, but Rask stopped Ryan Callahan’s breakaway backhander. I was surprised that Callahan did not use his regular shootout move – dropping his shoulder and snapping off a quick wrister.
“There’s no worse feeling than this,” Callahan explained to Rosen. “We had a good team this year. It’s frustrating.”
Here are my random Ramblings for Game 5:
• Tonight was the 19th anniversary of Mark Messier’s “Guarantee” in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. Had the Ranegrs won and forced a Game 6, that would have been the anniversary of “Matteau! Matteau! Stephan Matteau!”
• There are two “bright” sides to the Rangers Game 5 loss. First, the Rangers did not get eliminated at home and secondly, and most importantly, we did not have to suffer through the platitudes and exultations that would have been launched Boston’s way by Pierre McGuire. By the way, while he might come across as “all-Canadian”, McGuire was born in Englewood, NJ.
• Of the 28 goals allowed by the Rangers in the playoffs, 14 of them came in the second period. When you also factor in the three overtime goals against, they allowed a whopping 17 goals during the “long-change” period.
• Prior to Game 5, Rask was 2-8 in elimination games.
• The Bruins entered Game 5 with a 16-2 lifetime record when they have held a 3-1 lead in best-of-7 series and they are 9-9 lifetime in Game 5s of best-of-7 series that they have led 3-1.
• The last time the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off in the playoffs was in the 1992 Wales Conference Finals which Pittsburgh won in four straight game one their way to their second consecutive Stanley Cup title. 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr was just 20-years-old then and in his second NHL season. In 21 playoffs games that year, he scored 11 goals and 13 assists
• Jagr is one goal shy of tying Jean Beliveau for 10th place on the all-time playoff goals list with 79. He is also three points short of tying Paul Coffey for 5th place on the all-time playoff points list (196).
• Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things, but who are the dolts at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston who pick the Three Stars. I can see Campbell and the First Star and Rask as the Third Star, but Milan Lucic as the Second Star? I think Krug would have been a better choice if you wanted to go all Bruins. Then again, they picked Derick Brassards as the Third Star following Game 1, presumably because it was his offensive zone turnover that lead the game-winning goal. Stay Classy Boston #1 (he writes sarcastically).
• Stay Classy Boston #2 – For the love of all things holy and hockey, ditch that “Woo!” chant after every goal. It is more annoying than that jackwagon with the horn at the Verizon Center.
• For all those Rangers fans who bemoan the Rangers penchant for going up the boards with their breakouts, watch their breakout on Campbell’s game-winning goal. Roman Hamrlik turns the puck over with a pass of the middle and the Rangers never recovered.
• %$@#! Toronto Maple Leafs. One has to wonder what would have happened in the Eastern Conference Semifinals had the Rangers faced the Maple Leafs instead of the Bruins. You would have to expect that the Blueshirts playoff experience would have been a huge factor.
• The final word goes to The King. Henrik Lundqvist tweeted out the following message on Twitter: “On our way home to NY. Season ended way to early.. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the Ranger fans for all the support!!” Rangers fans have to hope that his career turns out like that of Mike Richter who was able to win a Stanley Cup as opposed to Eddie Giacomin who saw Lord Stanley’s Cup elude him.