Happy Cinco De Mayo. Well, your boys are sure in a hole now, and even if it’s one out of which it would be possible to dig, it seems miles deeper because of their inability to cobble together even one legitimate goal in two-plus games in this series, against a goaltender they are making look like Ken Dryden.
1) This 1-0 overtime loss is on coach John Tortorella as much as or more than the players for two reasons (or at least two): A) Because of the power play that cost them the game, and B) because he kept Ryan McDonagh on the ice in overtime after a long shift, an icing, a timeout and another chance to change, a 3:04 shift, which even if he didn’t throw the puck over the glass, would probably have ended disastrously since a fresh Alex Ovechkin was on the ice. And, yeah, I know that if Brian Boyle can handle a pass that was just off his stick at center ice, he gets it deep and maybe McDonagh get a change.
2) The PP doesn’t change. The lack of movement, the lack of play-making, or getting to open spots. The same failing personnel, starting with Brad Richards on the point. And almost no chance for Mats Zuccarello or Carl Hagelin, but chances for Brian Boyle and Taylor Pyatt. Rick Nash, the best scorer, playing above the circles.
3) After another season of flailing away aimlessly and statuesquely (spell check says that really is a word), the Rangers badly need to hire an assistant coach with a special teams pedigree because this has gone on throughout (and beyond) Tortorella’s tenure. You could probably get a high school basketball coach to draw up a give-and-go or back-door set play that would be better than anything the Rangers do on the PP. It has to change. It cost them games last season, last playoffs, especially in the Eastern Final, all of this season, and it has now cost them a chance to win two winnable games against an opponent that really isn’t that good.
4) Special teams will decide the series. Everybody said it. They said it. So far, special teams have decided both games …
5) That and the complete lack of offensve. But, yeah, the Rangers changed the middle of their lineup with that trade. Got rid of their best goal scorer for a third-liner, a No. 5 defenseman (albeit with a ton of potential upside), and a tough-guy fourth-liner who brought some energy in his debut but took two minors.
6) Wall-ball isn’t a terrible strategy. Even the best teams in the league play that cycling game. But the best teams in the league, when cycling, have somebody, whether a forward or a D-man joining the play, always – or most of the time – moving to the front of the net, which A) draws a defenseman or a forward out of the wall battle and B) gives you a chance to, you know, create something off the wall play. You have to forecheck, and there are times when you just want to wear down the opponent (usually when your third or fourth line is on the ice), but if it doesn’t occasionally produce goals, it’s exhausting and, well, unproductive. Meanwhile, the bigger, meaner Capitals forwards are better suited to play the Rangers game than the Rangers are.
7) Just because maybe you need to be reminded, the Rangers scoring one goal in two games is awful, but not terribly unusual. They scored 14 goals in six games against the Devils last spring, 15 in seven against Washington, 14 in seven against Ottawa, eighth in five games against Washington the year before, and 11 in seven games against the Caps in 2009 (including seven in the last six games).
8) And, I know, a lot of you guys have been screaming it for a while, and I’ve tended to disagree as I watch Chris Kreider go through the Evgeni Grachev phase of his development – and I think he will certainly figure it out and be a legit player – but it’s time to put him in the lineup in an offensive role, give him some chances to shoot the puck on the second power play or break a play with his speed. Too many guys in yesterday’s lineup played as well as they could, and had no chance to chip in even a sliver of offense.
9) How in holy hell do they not call that obvious delay of game penalty at the end of the third period? Not that the Rangers would have done anything with the power play, but they have to call it. Have to. Inexcusable and unacceptable officiating.
10) The Rangers had a much better start to Game 2 than Game 1, but I didn’t think overall that they had the puck nearly as much, even though they were way, way better 5-on-5 than they were 5-on-4 or 4-on-5.
11) Henrik Lundqvist was really good in the first, especially on a chaotic PK and a late period breakdown. How about the save on Jason Chimera in behind Derek Dorsett mid-third? Got to feel for that guy. Plays his heart out. Yeah, he gave up a softie in Game 1. He was heroic in Game 2, threw a shutout and lost. This was the first time since 1933 that the Rangers went into a playoff OT tied 0-0.
12) On to Rick Nash, because I have a number of thoughts on this guy. Nash gets tackled and tripped and cross-checked every shift, plus punched and facewashed after every whistle, and I don’t get why nothing’s ever called. On the other hand, great players have to find a way to fight through that crap, like Mike Bossy did and Marian Gaborik didn’t. It’s the difference between success and failure. Mike Milbury killed him after he sleep-walked through the first period, and I didn’t disagree, much as I hate to not disagree with that jackwagon.
13) And that said, Nash sure became a force in the third period when he got away from Brad Richards and with Derek Stepan. And he made one helluva play to stop Ovechkin late third. Then he beat three Caps, hit the post and drew a power play that the Rangers, himself included, wasted. Wonder what the mood is if that exact same 60 minutes is played except that Nash scores on that play, or the ensuing PP.
14) I got to wondering if Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson – one very crafty, the other very fast, would be any better or worse than Stepan and Carl Hagelin if you switched Ovechkin off their line and onto Stepan’s.
15) Mike Keenan and Bill Patrick on NBCSN last night talking about the Justin Abdelkader leaping head shot, were saying that he’ll be suspended and that they can’t believe these things still happen because “head shots are out.” Um, yeah, except when they aren’t. Except when some are punished, most aren’t and the ones that are end up with pansy one or two-gamers. That’s why they still happen. Head shots are not out.
16) NBC holding up the opening faceoff, with the players in position to start play, for Pierre McGuire’s thoughts, is a disgrace.
RangerJHW’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. The King … need four of five … I’ve got confidence.
2. Anton Stralman.
3. Cally … time to get the boys going!!!
Your poll vote for the Three Rangers Stars:
1. Henrik Lundqvist (32.08%).
2. Ryan Callahan (15.09%).
3. tie, Anton Stralman, Derek Dorsett, Mats Zuccarello (9.43%).
Photos by Getty Images.