Before we look back at Game 5 and the series, we’ll look ahead. The Rangers will probably have their break-up day meetings on Monday. We plan on being there (instead of Game 6) for coverage. And we’ll wrap up the season in the next few days.
1) The power play. Brandon Dubinsky—who was very up and down in this series—was absolutely right. The difference in the series was the Rangers power play. It’s been a problem for the Rangers all year … and last year … and for several years. The power play was 0 for 2 in Game 5, leaving it at 1 for 20 in the series, and 2 for 47 going back to the end of the regular season. The only goal it scored in the series was a terrible-angle shot by Erik Christensen in Game 3.
2) So, I think I mentioned this before, but I might as well double-dip. The Rangers should have just put out their next five … whatever line was up, and whatever two D-men … or just put our the Boyle line. Then don’t play it like a power play. Just play your normal grinding, forechecking game. With the opponent having four players, that forecheck could produce some chances. Because, with no legit PP quarterback, with no first-line players (Gaborik should be, but hasn’t been), trying to set up the PP is worthless. Especially against an aggressive kill like the Capitals.
3) The power play was further doomed all season by the Rangers inability to win faceoffs. How many power plays started with an offensive-zone draw that was lost and immediately cleared the length of the ice? I could go on and on about the power play. But I won’t.
4) Dan Girardi=Block Ness Monster. It took a while for him to win us all over, but he sure had done it by the end of the season, and was just overwhelmingly courageous in these playoffs. My God.
5) Henrik Lundqvist. He couldn’t steal games by himself this time, but he sure was good again in the playoffs—and down the stretch. And for people who don’t think he’s “elite” or a Vezina candidate, what else do you want in a goalkeeper than to play his best in the biggest games?
6) Marian Gaborik. He had virtually all of the Rangers’ chances between the Boyle and Prust flurry in the first 30 seconds, and Wolski’s goal with 31.5 left. And buried none. Again, I don’t think it’s necessary the amount of try in his game—not most of the time—but I don’t know what else it could be.
7) Scoring. I’m going to get more into this topic as we go along this week, because, well, it cost the Rangers in this series (eight goals), it almost cost them a playoff spot; last year it did cost them a playoff spot; the year before it nearly cost them a playoff spot and cost them in a series in which they led 3-1. It has to be addressed.
8) That said, if the Rangers are going to play so much of their offensive game below the hashmarks, then they’re going to have to deploy their D-men and have them move into the circles more.
9) Alex Ovechkin=Monster.
10) The Rangers have had bad games this season. They’ve had bad starts. But I don’t recall a game starting like this one, where even at 1-0, it felt they didn’t have a chance. It felt like, for the first time in this series, it was 1 vs. 8; for the first time in this series, it was men vs. boys.
11) The Capitals launched 36 shot attempts in that first period. Thirty-six! Holy shishkebob.
12) I know they never really tested him enough, and I’m usually the last person to credit a goaltender who isn’t severely tested. But Michal Neuvirth was pretty darn good, and the kid’s got a sick glove hand.
13) So my last three Rangers road trips, in reverse order: Yesterday’s loss. Game 82 last season. Near the end of the Bryan Trottier era. With a Rangers fan as the sports editor, it doesn’t bode well for me starting next year in Sweden.
14) You folks who started up the few anti-Tortorella comments toward the end of the season, and who showed up again yesterday, do us all a favor and shut up. I mean, you’re entitled to your opinion, and that’s what these blogs are all about. But that’s pretty idiotic after what’s gone on here the last two years. And what went on before he got here. But most important, what’s going on going forward.
15) A few guys looked like they were pretty much finished by the end of this series, and one or two others looked disinterested throughout. I won’t name names. You guys know.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon, above.