This Rangers team should have been popping corks and spraying each other with bubbly deep in the bowels of the Verizon Center looking forward to a fews days off as they wait for their next opponent. Instead, they find themselves heading back to the World’s Most Famous facing an elimination game on Mother’s Day for the sixth playoff series in a row under John Tortorella.
And there is one reason, and one reason only why this team, is fighting for its life rather than moving on.
COACH JOHN TORTORELLA HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIGURE OUT THE POWER PLAY IN FIVE YEARS!
Fifty-three seconds into the game, regular season disappointment and playoff power forward Brian Boyle went to the net and tucked home a nifty pass from Derick Brassard. D-Brass, the Blueshirts biggest offensive threat in the post season, sent a pill to Boyle in the slot and the big guy buried it for the 1-0 lead.
With the Rangers taking it to the Caps early, they drew a penalty at 4:40 when Jason Chimera smashed (and probably re-concussed) Ryane Clowe into the glass behind the net. As is their custom, John Tortorella’s Ranger power play came up empty again.
The visitors had another power play chance at 9:57 when John Erskine threw an elbow at Carl Hagelin. But alas, the NYR once again vomited a goose egg on the man advantage. These were critical opportunities to step on the figurative necks of the Capitals, but the Rangers did nothing. A big fat zero. They took a few shots, but still they did nothing on the PP. And nothing on their two power play chances in the second.
The game turned after the first. The Caps outshot the NYR 19-9 for the remainder of regulation and 8-6 in the OT. The Caps easily could have scored 5 goals if not for the continued excellence of Henrik Lundqvist.
The Caps eventually evened the score at at 7:44 of the second when Brian Boyle took a stupid, selfish penalty when he hacked Mike Ribeiro in the back of the leg after Ribeiro pushed Boyle down on a scrum in fromt of the net. Boyle should know better than to take such an undisciplined penalty in a crucial game. On the ensuing PP, Washington went to work and scored in just 11 seconds using their down low triangle play, when Joel Ward blasted home a pass from Marcus Johansson and Niklas Backstrom prior to that.
The remainder of the game was all Capitals and remained tied only because of the King between the pipes for the NYR. The Rangers were beat in every aspect of the game except goaltending. They were outhit 53-42 and out shot 35-25. The Caps had 30 blocks to the Blueshirts 28 and destroyed the Rangers in the face-off circles 58-42. Tied in the critical third period of a series tied at 2-2, the Rangers were outshot 13-4.
Then in Overtime with the Rangers scrambling in their own zone, and John Moore hurting from a blocked shot, Ribeiro got position on Moore and slammed home the rebound of Karl Alzner screamer for the game winner and the 3-2 series lead.
If they had scored only two more power play goals, one in Game 2 and one in the first period last night, this series would be over. At 2-21 with a measly 19 shots on goal, Tort’s Blueshirts have written a recipe for disaster in this series. It boggles the mind for anyone watching the New York Rangers that Tortorella still has a job, despite this gaping hole in the Blueshirts game. They have no power play. And have had no power play, despite their offensive talent for five years. How does Sather not get this?
By contrast, the Capitals power play essentially has two set plays. One, they try to set up Mike Green for a one-time clapper at the top of the umbrella, and two, they create a low triangle in the high slot which is what they did on the Ward goal. Though Ovechkin, and not Ward is usually at the top of that triangle.
Another alarming trend in this round is that the Rangers have no answer for the physicality of Jason Chimera and John Erskine. Erskine has had free reign to be particularly punishing on Ryan Callahan and no one in a Ranger sweater laid a glove on Chimera after he sent Clowe out of the game with a head-smash into the glass. Could you imagine Adam Graves letting an opposition player get away with that?
Finally, yes Rick Nash has to contribute and soon, but Brad Richards is once again terrible. Richards looks two strides slower than everyone else on the rink, and he still treats the puck like it has herpes. Broadway Brad often picks up no one on defense, constantly gives the puck away and his passes are most often, lousy. It got so bad last night, that Torts took Nash off B-Rich’s line because, the former Conn Smythe winner has no chemistry with anyone. 2013 Richards looks very much like 2011 Chris Drury. Would it be shocking if Sather announces a Richards buyout before the July 1st Free Agent Frenzy? Is break-up day too soon?
The Rangers are 16-19 in the playoffs under Coach Tortorella.
2009 Lost in 7 to Washington (First Round)
2010 Did not Qualify for Playoffs
2011 Lost in 5 to Washington (First Round)
2012 Won in 7 vs Ottawa (First Round)
2012 Won in 7 vs Washington (2nd Round)
2012 Lost in 6 to New Jersey (EC Finals)
With Clowe out wouldn’t be ironic if Torts, slides Kreider back into the lineup and the kid repeats his outburst of last spring saving the Coach’s job again?
Nah, he’ll probably call on Kris Newberry.
Let’s go Rangers?