Happy Father’s Day!!!
A couple of things … we’ll have at least one Live Chat this coming week.
Monday is breakup day and I will be there, and I think Josh Thomson is coming, too, and we’ll have a lot of tweets and audio and video and blog posts and news from there.
Here’s my column from The Journal News and Lohud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
There’s going to be plenty of time to break down this Rangers season, and the somewhat rocky, albeit short, offseason that began early Saturday morning, on the 20th anniversary of the best night in franchise history.
There’s going to be plenty of analysis about a five-game Stanley Cup Final in which every single game could have gone either way, in which 85-plus percent of the series was played either tied or with a one-goal difference, in which bounces and officiating played such huge parts in outcomes.
Some of my memories, chronologically:
Game 7 against Philadelphia at MSG: In a wobbly series in which neither team won two in a row, the Rangers survived their fourth consecutive Game 7. It was a minimal accomplishment that gave no indication of what was to come.
Game 1 in Pittsburgh: The Rangers scored not one, but two overtime goals. What? Yes, Derick Brassard’s shot beat Marc-Andre Fleury and ricocheted out of the net so fast that only Brassard knew it was in. So Benoit Pouliot grabbed the loose puck and put it past Fleury again. Video replay showed Brassard’s goal had actually ended the game.
Game 4 against the Penguins at MSG: Rick Nash was booed off the ice. Martin St. Louis was booed, too, and said it was probably the worst game he’d ever played. The Rangers had gone through a ridiculously bad 0-for-36 power-play skid, and had barely survived an absurd schedule, playing five games in seven nights, with their worst performance of the playoffs. Down 3-1, everybody thought they were done. Heck, I thought they were done before the series began.
Game 5 in Pittsburgh: When the Rangers arrived in Pittsburgh, St. Louis learned about the death of his mother, France. He flew to Montreal to be with his family, then returned to play in a 5-1 victory. Who knew what was next?
Game 6 vs. the Penguins at MSG: On Mother’s Day, St. Louis scored the game’s first goal, and during the game, Sidney Crosby became increasingly distracted by Dominic Moore. Henrik Lundqvist was fined $5,000 for squirting Crosby with a water bottle during one fracas.
Game 7 at Pittsburgh: Goals by Brian Boyle and Brad Richards (7-0 in Game 7s in his career) gave Lundqvist all he needed as the Rangers came back from 1-3 down for the first time in franchise history. Lundqvist’s five-minute stretch of the third period, in which the Rangers allowed more scoring chances than they normally do in a full game, not only got them to the Eastern Conference final but also cost Penguins GM Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma their jobs. Both would still be employed otherwise.
More Game 7: This was my personal favorite single moment of the entire playoffs: a GIF of the bench, of grown men acting like children, with Brassard looking for somebody to hug in the final seconds and Benoit Pouliot face-washing Mats Zuccarello and Brad Richards jumping up and down. Click here to see it.
Game 1 in Montreal: The Rangers exorcise all their Montreal ghosts in a 7-2 win (they would win Game 2 also), and goalie Carey Price is lost for the series in a collision with Chris Kreider, which sets an ugly, nasty tone for the series.
Game 3 vs. Montreal at MSG: Brandon Prust’s blatant head shot, which broke Derek Stepan’s jaw, is called “interference” by the NHL, and the series just deteriorated with accusations, threats, suspensions and whining. The Canadiens really conducted themselves in embarrassing fashion throughout the series. People around the league thought so.
Game 6 vs. Montreal at MSG: Lundqvist’s helicopter save on Thomas Vanek highlighted a 1-0 win in the clincher, the Rangers’ best game of the postseason. And Dominic Moore — another great story, returning from sitting out a season after the death of his wife, Katie — scored the only goal.
Game 1 in Los Angeles: A bad hop became a turnover by Dan Girardi and an overtime victory for the Kings.
Game 2 in Los Angeles: A non-goalie-interference call on Dwight King’s goal helped the Kings come back from 2-0 down again, and win in OT again. They led the series 2-0 without having held a lead during play.
Game 3 vs. Los Angeles at MSG: Three bad plays and three bad deflections put the Rangers down 0-3 in the series.
Game 4 vs. Los Angeles at MSG: Two pucks stop in the snow on the goal line to keep the Rangers alive despite being dominated in the third period. Mark Messier, in the crowd, waved four fingers, indicating four wins needed.
Game 5 in Los Angeles: Again, Lundqvist was spectacular, the Rangers fought back from a 1-0 deficit on goals by Kreider and Boyle, but a bad tripping call on Mats Zuccarello, who was tripped himself, let Marian Gaborik tie it, and the Kings won the Cup in double OT.
Photos by Getty Images, the Associated Press and USA Today.