The New York Rangers lost Game 6 by a score of 4-2, but the series wasn’t lost on Tuesday night. It is true that the fourth loss signified the official end of the series, but the Blueshirts game it away in Game 1 and Game 5 at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. It isn’t often that a team can afford to blow two games in a potential seven-game series and come out victorious, and you could say the Rangers were lucky to have an opportunity to gain a stay of execution.
The Rangers very well could have defeated the Ottawa Senators and moved on to the Eastern Conference Final. Had they done so it would have been another matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins or Washington Capitals, and one they would have lost handily. Don’t kid yourself, although the Rangers do have a bevy of talent that will return for the 2017-18 campaign; they were a deeply flawed team. The defense is the biggest elephant in the room right now.
For the second year in a row defensive breakdowns in key situations made the difference. For the second year in a row an inability to execute the basics became ever so costly. And for the 23rd year in a row there will no parade through the Canyon of Heroes. Once again the Rangers are at a proverbial crossroads, and they can’t afford a misstep at this juncture. The front office and coaching staff needs to maximize the time and ability left with Henrik Lundqvist. There needs to be an honest evaluation of the blue line and there will be some tough decisions up front.
There will be time to dissect in great detail going forward, but in a loss here is the final Game Score report of the 2016-17 season.
1.) Mika Zibanejad | 1.84
Mika Zibanejad once again performed admirably against his former squad, and attempted to will his team to victory. The Rangers’ center tallied a goal and an assist, three shots on goal and finished with a 5v5 Corsi differential of +1.
He was also the only Ranger center to finish with a positive differential at the faceoff circle. Zibanejad finished the playoffs with nine points in 12 games and looks like a player who will be an impact player for the foreseeable future.
2.) Mats Zuccarello | 1.62
The Hobbit was a noticeable player for the Blueshirts, and it was another strong playoff for Zuccarello. The Blueshirts’ heart and soul forward tallied an assist and five shots on goal during the loss. Additionally, Zucc drew two penalties on the evening, one of which was a double minor high stick from former Ranger Derick Brassard. Look for Zucc to be a big part of the Rangers again next season, and it would be nice to see him skate with Zibanejad given the fact that both mesh so well from a skillset perspective.
3.) Chris Kreider | 1.40
It was a disappointing playoff run for Kreider but he attempted to go out with a bang. The Rangers’ speedster nabbed his third goal of the playoffs and it was one of his four shots on goal.
In terms of puck possession, Kreider finished with a +4 5v5 Corsi differential which was the best amongst Ranger forwards. Fans are right to feel like they were deprived of a performance in the playoffs because in the regular season Kreider was on fire scoring 27 goals. There’s hope that he’s on an upswing as a player, but he could have been a real difference maker in this series and the postseason as a whole.
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— Blueshirt Bulletin (@NYRBlueBulletin) May 6, 2017