Another disappointing, up-and-down season of New York Rangers hockey has come to a close. For the second straight playoff year, the Rangers are eliminated by a superior, but beatable, Washington Capitals team. It pains me to say, but for a team that had their backs against the wall this afternoon, they put forth a heartless and uninspired effort (until the final minute), and fell by the score of 3-1. The Rangers failed, all series long, to take advantage of a rookie goaltender, but just like they do in the regular season, they make rookies and journeymen look like superstars. To say the Rangers played bad for the entire series would be lying. The Blueshirts were in every game, for the most part, and the largest margin of victory for either team was just two goals.
For the Rangers, they knew their season was over along with the double-overtime 4-3 loss in Game Four. To blow a three goal lead in the third period is inexcusable, and there was no chance of recovery, despite head coach John Tortorella telling the media that the Rangers would be “ready to play today”.
For the Rangers’ big-money men, Henrik Lundqvist did all he could do to give his team a chance to win. Had the team in front of him been able to clear a puck in Game One, and not totally collapsed in Game Four, then I may be writing about how the Rangers defeated the mighty Capitals as the underdog. If I was him, I would have walked into the locker room and quit. Chris Drury played as well as I expected him to, but Marian Gaborik was a different story. Where was he, exactly? Except for his tap-in goal in the last game, he was invisible. There were really no instances where he was even noticeable, which pretty much went along with his regular season. If this is just one bad year, so be it, but if this is what we can expect for next season to, then I hope to God that this was his last game as a New York Ranger.
As for who stays and who goes, if I had to give you that list now, more than half the team would be on their way out. I will wait, probably until mid-May for that round-up, and my sentiments might not even change that much. These Rangers played hard all season, there is no denying that. With their roster and injury troubles, perhaps it was a miracle they even made the playoffs at all, but they did, and then fell flat on their faces. The one bright side out of all of this is the learning experience for the abundance of youngsters in the lineup—that will be really valuable down the road. So maybe this year was not totally lost after all. As they say, you have to lose before you can win. Even Pierre McGuire said on NBC that though fans may be upset, the future for New York is really bright.
So I will end here, with my last post-game recap of the season. I want to first apologize for the downsizing in hockey coverage, but also thank you all for sticking with me all season long. It was a pleasure getting to writing for you and getting the chance to interact with so many amazing fans. We can only hope for a better season to come, one without so many harrowing disappointments.
I’ve been watching hockey since I was five or six years old, and I still get emotional during the handshakes at the end of an elimination game. For five games, these two teams beat the crap out of each other, then they shake hands and hug. That’s what I love about hockey.