A picture is worth a thousand words, and the picture right here, well, just wow. Look at the five Rangers around Henrik Lundqvist and Gregory Campbell, look at who they are in a must-win Game 5 of a second-round playoff series, and how nobody can prevent the fourth-line Boston center from scoring the Series … Winning … Goal.
1) Think about what had to happen for those five guys to get on the ice or in the game. Brad Richards and Arron Asham had to be healthy scratched, Marc Staal and Anton Stralman, Ryane Clowe and Darroll Powe had to be injured. Not an excuse. But, geez. And some of the guys who played on lines or defense pairs ahead of the guys on the ice there weren’t a lot better, especially No. 61 and No. 4. Actually, that series-winning goal looked a lot like the goal that eliminated the Rangers last year, only the pedigree of those on the ice last year made it more unforgivable.
2) I am not jumping on Roman Hamrlik for the two turnovers and the bad defensive read on the GWG. There is no way in hell that guy, 39 years old and scratched forever by Washington, then by the Rangers, who quickly determined he wasn’t in NHL condition, should have been expected to jump onto a speeding playoff train, against a beastly team like the Bruins, and survive it, or not eventually cost the Rangers. It is their fault to a very large degree that he was their best option in this game.
3) It sure didn’t look very good when the Bruins had three D-men out, two of them not very great, either, and yet they were able to summon Torey Krug, Mark Bartkowski and Doug(ie) Hamilton.
4) The Bruins just wore down the Rangers. They were more skilled, too. But it was men vs. boys for way too many minutes of the five games, even though the Rangers could easily have won a couple of those games with a power-play goal or a big play. They really could have.
5) I thought that this was easily Rick Nash’s worst game of the series. Don’t know if it was Del Zotto’s worst, but his was putrid too. And I imagine those were two of the guys that John Tortorella was thinking about when he talked about how it was his fault that he couldn’t get some of his top players to play at the level he needed them to play.
6) So, since organizational depth proved to be quite an issue this season, and since Richards and a few others are going out the door, and since there aren’t going to be many top free agents, and even if there are, the Rangers are going to be too close to the cap to make a big move, then, well, next year a bunch of kids are going to have to make the jump. Right? And that might be a good thing.
7) The fourth line, despite that Campbell goal and a couple of penalties, sure got things going for the Rangers in Game 5. They fought, they hit, they made their presence known, which isn’t easy to do against the Big Bads.
8) You know who had big games? Jim Ramsay and Cas Marques. Rammer had to sew up Derek Stepan, who took that Ryan McDonagh shot to the mush, and Cas had to deal with Lundqvist’s multiple equipment malfunctions and fashion a helmet and full shield for Stepan.
9) You know who else I liked? Chris Kreider, start to finish. Yeah, he turned one over at the blue. Who didn’t? Early in the game, Nathan Horton elbowed Nash in the faceoff circle. Kreider skated right up to him and slashed him on the back of the leg. Horton spent the rest of the night chasing him. And later Kreider bowled over two Bruins on the same shift, including Horton. I personally hope the kid figures it out by next camp. I think he will.
10) Captain Callahan had a strong game, too, starting stuff every shift, drew David Krejci into that penalty on which the Rangers scored, had that breakaway late. The power play that scored, by the way, was the real No.1 unit: Girardi and Del Zotto at the points, Mats Zuccarello, Boyle and Kreider up front. Move, move, move. Puck and feet. Del Zotto moved it up ice. Boyle moved the puck and goes to the front, Zuccarello moved it to Girardi, who had moved his feet to get open for a one-timer. So very simple.
11) Hope we’re not going to go on that “fatigue” tangent again. They played 12 games. They had three days off between Game 7 and Game 1, then two more days off between 1 and 2. If they were tired (other than Hamrlik) then they will never win anything.
12) That Lundqvist save on Milan Lucic after the delzasterous Del Zotto turnover in the first was one of the best ever. Had Lucic looking to the rafters.
13) Lucic=Monster. No. I mean he really is a monster. Like, made out of nuts, bolts, and beast parts.
14) Torey “John Druce” Krug. What a series for the kid. The play I really liked, which showed his poise, was puck on his stick last seconds of the second period, on the power play, and he stopped and looked up at the clock. Wow.
15) By the way, when and why did the NHL go to this idiotic practice of not announcing the visiting team’s starting lineup?
16) The new Boston Garden is just as bad as MSG in terms of fans being quiet until something big happens. … but at least MSG doesn’t leave your ears bleeding from the speakers being cranked about 10 notches too high. And uses fully-clothed T-shirt tossers.
17) I’m in the minority on this, but I think Boston has a shot against Pittsburgh. Of course, I thought Ottawa had a shot against Pitt, too, and that ended with Teddy Roosevelt saying, “I hope they don’t bill us for the clinic.”
18) Stick around during the off-season, which still doesn’t start for a while. I’ll have a bunch of analysis coming, hopefully, and break-up day will probably be Monday, so we’ll have a lot of stuff from there, and probably at least one Live Chat coming up this week … and of course, this place never goes dark. Dull at times, maybe, not never dark.
19) Special thanks to everybody who helped, who did guest posts during the off-season and the lockout and even during the season, to everybody who helped out with the Three Stars (especially the real Kenny Albert, Josh Thomson, 26, and RangerJHW, who took the job seriously, W, L or OTL). And to all you guys who make this place, in someone’s words, the “worst blog on the internets.”
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan McDonagh.
2. Derek Stepan.
3. Henrik Lundqvist.
The real Kenny Albert’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. Henrik Lundqvist.
2. Chris Kreider.
3. Ryan McDonagh.
RangerJHW’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. Carp … for another stellar season (editor’s note: Thank you).
2. The Boneheads … for having to endure a lockout and a mediocre, soft team.
3. The King … for allowing us to even believe we had a chance … and he does it every year!
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Henrik Lundqvist (25.0%).
2. Chris Kreider (21.43%).
3. Ryan McDonagh (17.86%).
Photos by Getty Images.