Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thanks For Coming Out, New York Rangers

Another top-seed is done and while many Rangers fans were looking to repeat 1994, Martin Brodeur was too much almost two decades after the fact. With the block party the Rangers brought, John Tortorella got the team deep into the playoffs and even with all the hurdles they had-- European trip, road-trip while MSG was bring renovated, HBO 24/7-- the Rangers did what they could and almost made it there.

They did get a lot out of Marian Gaborik in the regular season, potting his third 40-goal season in the past five; while Brad Richards didn't shoot out the lights in his Broadway debut season, but he did enough when he was needed to help keep the Rangers in it during the playoffs. The supporting cast chipped in when needed, but would mostly be known for their grit, board play, and shot blocking than anything else. Of course another bright spot is how well Carl Hagelin will develop. He has the speed and hands, but will he be able to flourish as much as he is capable of in the Rangers' system of play??

Defensively, Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto were the offensive leaders, but Del Zotto's defensive play makes Rangers fans cringe and angry at him. Luckily, the return of Marc Staal and solid play of Anton Stralman were able to make-up for Del Zotto's short-comings.

However, we all know the crown jewel for the Rangers is Henrik Lundqvist and his 1.85 playoff GAA, .931 save percentage, and three shutouts are spectacular. It mirrors his regular season numbers nicely, as well (1.97, .930, 8 SO); but the fact he has come so close again with a great team in front of him and not be able to muster out a conference title makes you wonder how long he can deal with these shortcomings in the playoffs.

While it's much too early for harsh criticism to be brought in, the fact that he has come up short again-- despite how much press he gets for being an amazing goalie-- makes me wonder if Lundqvist will be the Dan Marino of the NHL where he's able to do so well in the regular season, but come up short of the ultimate prize at the end of the day. There's a long way to go, but you had to think that this was one of the best chances he could have gotten with this team.

They will be back to the drawing board in New York and they will have to hope that John Tortorella's motivation will be able to continue going and that his game plan continues to ring in the Rangers locker room.

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