Sunday, April 24, 2011

R1, Game 5: Not With A Bang But A Whimper

Hours of separation has lessened the murderous rage that imbued my spirit after the Rangers ended their season with a 3-1 loss to Washington. In its place is only confusion.

How could the team - led by their coach - talk about being ready for the most important game of their campaign and then produce ... that? The Rangers had a chance to win the first four games of this series; they had no chance this afternoon. Many have raved about the team's resilience and never-say-die attitude over the course of this season and yet the team simply folded after falling in double overtime in Game 4. All the rhetoric in the world couldn't bring back a team that left their hearts on the Garden ice.

The Rangers team that showed up in the Phone Booth played scared of making mistakes, scared of taking penalties and - with a few exceptions - scared of laying it all on the line for what they clearly believed to be a lost cause.

There is much left to be written about this team in this space but that will come in the days and months henceforth; this will stick to the loss. And on that, notes:

*Losing this game was acceptable in the grand scale of things - the team is young and had no real place in the playoffs to begin with, so the experience for the core was gravy. But in the moment, all it brings is sadness and disgust. Seeing Henrik Lundqvist sitting on the bench in the final minutes - very clearly wearing his emotions on his sleeve - was heartbreaking.

*Chris Drury's main reasons to be in the lineup over a Whale were his faceoffs and penalty killing ability. He went 6-6 at the dot and stumbled around the Ranger end while Mike Green scored the first goal of the game. He actually fell in front of Staal, allowing Green to get his second swing at the puck. And, to boot, Drury was completely and utterly outplayed by Boyd Gordon. Let that sink in; Boyd Gordon. Said it many times before, Chris Drury is the worst captain in the NHL and the worst in Rangers franchise history.

*No Ranger will make it into the three stars below but several deserve recognition. Mike Sauer was stellar, Dan Girardi did all that he could do, Hank was Hank and Sean Avery was the best Ranger on the ice. Say what you like about Avery's penchant for going offsides, the occasional bad penalty or the lack of goals but Avery has been at his best in the biggest games. If he had any kind of chemistry with any of his teammates perhaps the production would be there too.

*Unless NBC/Versus mixed their audio differently than they did in MSG, no Caps fans, you weren't louder. Sorry. But that was fun.

*Marcus Johansson > Artem Anisimov. That being said, Arty had a rush in the third period that was his best play in the last month. It was a flash of the ability he showed earlier this season; it is shame that Cally's injury cost us Callahan, Anisimov and Dubinsky.

*Dubi was a complete nonfactor.

*Semin's goal was the kind of thing Marian Gaborik was supposed to be able to do. And nice of Mr. Softie to get caught flatfooted at the Caps blueline, allowing Semin to take off like a bat out of hell down the ice alone.

*Hobey saved his hardest slap shot for Mike Green's face, which worked out as it knocked Green out of the game. It was too bad the Blueshirts couldn't take advantage of his absence.

*Marc Staal has done yeoman's work this year as the top defenseman but what the hell was he doing with Ovechkin on the second goal? He laid a weak stick check and stopped moving his feet, allowing Ovie to blast by and score. There are good penalties and there are bad penalties and that was a time for a good penalty.

*Bryan McCabe ended up with 14 PIM thanks to the scrum with 32 seconds left. It was the most life that he showed since his goal against Philly.

*It's not how you start but how you finish: Brian Boyle closed with just one goal in his last 24 games on 74 shots, five of them in this game. And he had all of three assists during that span.

*How does the Professional Hockey Writers make Michal Neuvirth the top star of the game when he didn't even have to break a sweat? The Rangers stopped crashing his crease and allowed him to see every shot.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Brooks Laich - two assists.
2-Alex Ovechkin - one goal and one assist.
1-Michal Neuvirth - 26 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-John Carlson - The rookie swatted the Rangers away like they were flies. Screw you Del Zotto.
2-Brooksie - It will be very interesting to see what kind of contract Laich lands this summer. He has been solid secondary scoring and a stable footsoldier when needed.
1-Ovie - He's good.


Anonymous said...

Neuvirth is not that good of a goalie. Wait till a real offensive team lights him up in the next round.

There are so many rookies making an impact around the league this year, rookies we could have had, it makes me so mad we've got DelZero and McIlroy sitting in the minors.

This game was a fitting ending to this season--a team stripped of its Cally heart is a team that can not compete. We'll never know but I'm pretty certain it would have been a different series if he were playing.

Next year I'd like to somehow move these contracts and get rid of Drury, Gaborik, Gilroy, McCabe, Wolski, Christiansen, Del Zero, and get some players who can actually score, especially on the powerplay. Key for me is getting players who can power through, take the body, and get dirty goals, not softies like Christiansen and Gaborik who can't shoot the puck if anyone puts pressure on them. I'll forgive Anisimov for now since he's young.

Scotty, I've never been a basher of your site and loyaly read it every day. Most days you are spot on with my own analysis and feelings. Please keep up the great work because it's times like these where we are all feeling blue about our team that your blog makes us feel better and hopeful and thankful to be a Ranger fan.

Anonymous said...

How long before Boogerman joins the MMA:

The Ranger Pundit said...

The team is scared, period. Thats the coach that has put this fear into them. If you play scared, afraid of making mistakes you will make them.

The biggest no chemistry that Avery has is with the coach. Does anyone on the team have chemistry with this coach?

Just think. Coach disagreeable has been reupped for three more years. Maybe I'll start a Knick blog site.

Faraway Fan said...

I feel bad for Cally, who worked SO hard this season, to see it end like that. I agree with Anon's comment, we'll never know what would have happened had he been healthy. What a heartbreaker.

Good job again this (short) year Scotty. Thank.

Ben said...

Verizon Center was definitely louder than MSG. Homer!

Enjoy the golf course!!!

Unknown said...

"Neuvirth is not that good of a goalie. Wait till a real offensive team lights him up in the next round."

Sounds a lot like:

“This goalie isn’t that good. He will give us rebounds –he has- and he will give us cheesy ones on net.”



Who said these things? Dan Bylsma and Maxime Talbot. What happened the next two times Neuvirth faced them? Two shut outs.

A goalie that is not that good that has won every playoff series in North America that he's played in is a goalie I'll take any day of the week

Avery's Purse said...

a whimper indeed.


time for your boys to concentrate on fashion again!

Sammael said...

How does Torts get an extension??? Really. Can we please start carrying the puck into the zone? Can we skate in instead of pulling up and stopping just inside the line? We have guys who used to be able to carry it in...

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the Pundit. The Rangers were not prepared mentally for game 5 and that is the coaches job. They played scared and that is the coaches doing. They had a worse power play all season than even Perry Pern could create. And that falls on the coaches shoulders. And now we have to give Torts 3 more years of this? WTF?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say - Verizon Center was considerably louder. If you want to base it on the television, VC again was louder than MSG. If you want to base it on going to the games, as I did, VC was 2x as loud. Sorry, better luck next time.

Duniyadnd said...

Thanks for doing a great job (like every other year) with your blog!