The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced Rangers fans’ feelings of resentment should not be directed at Sidney Crosby or Marc-Andre Fleury or Ryan Hollweg (although none of those players should be very high on your list right now) but someone you probably wouldn’t expect:
Think about it. It was the Flyers forward’s overtime winner against the Capitals that set up this second-round match-up with the Penguins, and what’s become increasingly apparent is the Rangers have run into a buzz saw.
Sure, the Rangers are not immune to blame here. Their power play has been dreadful, they let a potential tone-setting win slip from their fingers in Game 1, and last night at least, Henrik Lundqvist was several notches below brilliant. And this is to say nothing of Hollweg, a decidedly flawed but earnest player who may have chosen the worst possible moment to lose his composure.
But the reality is the young Penguins are riding too much of a wave right now. In a game when the Rangers had to bleed for every goal, the Penguins hardly needed to break a sweat for their five. Yes, the Rangers carried the play. But in a game they lost by two, that’s like saying they dominated everywhere but the offensive zone, the defensive zone, and all points in between.
Which brings us back to Lupul. I know what you’re thinking. Should the Capitals have beaten the Flyers in that first round series, all it would have meant is the Rangers would have a chance to get past a vulnerable Montreal team, and then run into the same predicament against the Penguins in the conference finals.
But timing is everything, and it seems like the Rangers drew Crosby, Malkin, and Co. at the absolute worst time.
Of course, there’s still at least one more game to go, and the Rangers say they’re not giving up. I don’t think they will, and if the stars align tomorrow, they very well could be headed back to Pittsburgh for Game 5.
But that’s the difference right now between these two teams. The Rangers have needed everything to go right to beat this team. So far, nothing has.
More from practice at noon….