A series of missed opportunities. Whether it was the Game 2 meltdown, the Game 5 collapse, the power play not executing, the Rangers left too many opportunities on the ice and eventually fell to the Ottawa Senators in the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I don’t know if I’ve really ever gone through a series like this where we seemed to shoot ourselves in the foot as far as closing games out or not playing well in crucial situations,” Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. “We have nobody to blame but ourselves and that’s the truth of the situation.”
Ottawa scored twice in the first period and never looked back as they defeated the Rangers 3-1 and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2007.
“Empty feeling right now,” Mika Zibanejad said. “Just disappointed. We really needed our best game of the season and we did in the third, but it was not enough. Dug ourselves a hole there in the beginning. Power play couldn’t generate anything on the four minute one. It hurt us. Just empty right now.”
Blueshirt Bullet Points
1) The Rangers postseason power play struggles have been well-documented over the years, but during Game 6, they failed to capitalize on several golden opportunities. Special teams needs to be able to deliver the “big” goal and on Tuesday, the Rangers blew several chances. They had three chances in the first period to cut into the Senators two-goal lead, and in the final period, they had the chance to tie the game. But over and over again, it came up empty.
2) “Our power play was well prepared; our guys knew where the opportunities would come from,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “At the end of the day we didn’t execute quickly enough. Tonight, we had a couple of looks but it obviously wasn’t good enough.”
3) Experience was the talk of the series, but on Tuesday, the Senators showed a killer instinct that the Rangers have been searching for since this era began. While the Senators were ready to go from the beginning, the Blueshirts were not and fell into a two-goal deficit in the opening period.
4) “We came out slow, it’s as simple as that,” McDonagh said. “We can’t put ourselves in a hole, but we did and I don’t know why. We were all pretty focused in here, saying the right things. But it’s a difference between saying and doing, and that showed up on the ice.”
5) The dagger came in the second half of the middler period. Zibanejad converted on a breakaway to cut the Senators lead to one goal, but shortly after Erik Karlsson helped his team regain a two-goal lead.
6) “I thought it was a killer to come back 2-1 and it was the next shift or two shifts later – it just can’t happen with all of that momentum to give them that 3-1 goal, Rick Nash said”
7) Brendan Smith cost himself a good amount of money this upcoming summer with his worst game of the series. On the second goal I have no explanation for what he was doing, then on the Karlsson goal he just let Bobby Ryan walk right past him along the boards. Talk about soft plays.
8) Chris Kreider looked like the dominant power forward he could be in the third period but where was that the rest of the series? When No. 20 wants to, he could be the fastest guy on the ice and possesses a wicked wrist shot. He had the chance to tie the game in the third period as well, but could not lift the puck over Anderson’s pad.
9) AV reunited the Michael Grabner, Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller in the third period when the team needed offense but should that have been done earlier in the game or the series? He tallied 56 points during the regular season, second best on the team. His defensive mistakes and neutral zone turnovers have been a problem but his offense was needed.
10) Hayes and Derek Stepan each had a terrible second-round series and the Rangers will be forced to evaluate the center position this summer. Did Oscar Lindberg do enough to warrant a top-nine spot? Can Jeff Gorton look to move Stepan, Hayes or Zibanejad to collect an asset in return and clear cap space?
11) Those are questions for the summer and will have you covered on Blueshirt Bulletin all summer long. I sincerely hope our readers enjoyed our coverage and Blueshirt Bullet Points after every game as we tried to different and separate ourselves from the crowd. Looking forward to bringing you more Rangers news as we turn the calendar to the 2017-18 season.