For almost 24 hours, I’ve been trying to digest the latest empty postseason by the Rangers. They were eliminated by a more determined Senators last night by a ironic score of 4-2 in a disappointing Game 6 at MSG. That allowed Ottawa to win the second round series in a closely fought six games to advance to their first Eastern Conference Final since 2007.
They won the series because they were resilient. In big moments, the Senators rose to the challenge twice erasing two-goal deficits and trailing by a goal in the last two minutes of regulation to rally and win Games 2 and 5 in sudden death at home. Their character was underestimated by a more experienced Blueshirts who never did put a beatable opponent away. Something they’ll regret the rest of the summer.
It’s hard to grasp how in a elimination game, they came out flat. But that’s exactly the case. While Alain Vigneault thought they were ready as did McDonagh who indicated that there’s a big difference between talking and doing, it was a more desperate Sens that played with more urgency.
They didn’t allow the Rangers to get the quick start they wanted to with a very energized Garden crowd into it before the drop of the puck. I don’t think there was any more that we could’ve done to help the players. It was as good a atmosphere as it’s been in quite a while. Honestly, the fans were great in Games 3 and 4 too.
Sometimes, you have to give the opponent credit. While I’ll always believe like the players in the post game that this series loss was self inflicted, the Senators took it. All they had to do was play one complete game. And I really wouldn’t call the third period they played good. They sat back and nearly got burned. If they try that next round against the Pens, they’ll be out quickly. They have enough firepower to make you pay.
Unlike the first five games, the Rangers never led. They didn’t score first. The Sens got the first two from Mike Hoffman on a redirect from series MVP Erik Karlsson, and Mark Stone sniped past Henrik Lundqvist short side top to take full advantage of a awful shift from Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith.
It’s not like they didn’t have chances. The Sens took some undisciplined penalties including a four-minute high-sticking double minor from Derick Brassard. But a disjointed power play took the crowd out of it. They got a few shots on Craig Anderson, who was superb in stopping 37 of 39 to win the series over Lundqvist. Good for him. He’s showed a lot of courage this season with his wife battling cancer.
That’s a great story. But this is about what the Rangers failed to do. It was like a mirror of a season in which they overachieved. The problem is no one wants to hear that now. Not when they could’ve and should’ve won. It was all set up for them. But they couldn’t handle prosperity. So, we are as loyal foolish fans of this jinxed franchise, left to wonder how they sucked us in again and broke our hearts.
I don’t got the answer. When your best players aren’t your best while your role guys stand out, you’re not going to be successful. There weren’t enough Blueshirts who stood out consistently. From McDonagh to Lundqvist to an admittedly “embarrassed” Derek Stepan, they weren’t good enough. There were too many passengers. Whether it was mental or physical like with Rick Nash, who had a knee wrapped afterwards, they didn’t get it done.
It really is a lost opportunity. Even in a weaker bracket, they weren’t able to take advantage. I know it’s been said a lot by my peers on other blogs and by media. So here it is again:
By far, this is the most inexcusable loss of the Vigneault Era. It is indefensible. That they could lose to a team where Karlsson was at best 65 percent due to the two heel fractures but somehow still dominated by getting the Game 1 winner and series clincher along with five assists. He is amazing. In the Ottawa four wins, Karlsson put up all his points while continuing to lead everyone in ice-time and shifts. He went plus-four last night coming out with the puck in the Rangers last ditch effort with 15 seconds left.
I didn’t need to see the empty net goal by unsung hero J.G. Pageau. I headed down and to the car as fast as possible. I didn’t care to see the handshakes or a sad salute from a core that’s given us so much in three Conference Finals and one Stanley Cup appearance. Too empty. Too disappointed.
I’m not angry. Maybe because I knew this group wasn’t good enough. It’s more disappointing than anything. So no need for breakdown. No need to even go more in detail. I will do more on that tomorrow.
I feel bad for Lundqvist and Mats Zuccarello because those two always give everything. I’ll also praise the effort of Dan Girardi. If this was really it, the Rangers warrior gave a very good account of himself. Ditto for Marc Staal, who obviously isn’t the same since his last concussion. His balance is all messed up and explains why he’s slowed down. Never question their heart or what they meant to the franchise.
Kudos to the gritty Jesper Fast, Michael Grabner and Oscar Lindberg. All of who could be exposed for head case Chris Kreider and one dimensional pass heavy Kevin Hayes. It would be a mistake not to find a way to keep Fast. Ditto Lindberg, who outside of Game 6, was more effective than Stepan this playoffs. I also want to credit Tanner Glass for a solid effort. How he could be more visible than a few of our go to guys says a lot about him and not much for the others who didn’t step up. Has anyone found J.T. Miller? Also kudos to Mika Zibanejad, who led the team in scoring with nine points including a highlight reel breakaway goal in the second from Zuccarello along with a assist on Kreider’s goal that made it 3-2 in the opening minute of the third.
Whatever comes out afterwards on break up day will be interesting. But it’s painfully obvious that the core we have grown to love has to be broken up. That’s all I got.
Thanks for the readership and support. Find me on New York Puck via Twitter! See you soon. Let’s Go Rangers!!!!! 😀