Right Wing Conspiracy is a weekly column about hockey, with the odd hockey-related conspiracy theory thrown in for good measure.
Blueshirts Battered, Beaten
“…Try not! Do…or do not. There is no try.” –Yoda, to Luke Skywalker
Down two games to none in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Boston Bruins, tonight was do-or-do-not time for the New York Rangers. The Blueshirts did not, allowing two goals in the final frame to lose, 2-1, to the Bruins. Boston now has a commanding 3-0 series lead. What happened, and where do the Rangers go from here?
First, a look at what went right for the Rangers in Game Three:
- Henrik Lundqvist was again outstanding between the pipes, making key saves on two breakaways in the first period to buy time for his team to get their collective head screwed on straight. Lundqvist was the Blueshirts’ best player tonight.
- New York gave up no power plays to Boston…though this was due more to referee error than actually playing a clean game.
- Derek Stepan won 64% of his faceoffs.
- Taylor Pyatt got a (small) piece of a Ryan McDonagh shot for his second goal of the playoffs.
- That’s about it.
What went wrong:
- Other than Stepan, no Ranger won more than 46% of his draws. On home ice. Overall, New York won an embarassing 38% of faceoffs. On home ice (I know; I already said that. It bears repeating). Completely unacceptable, and it was a key element in the loss.
- Puck possession was a major problem for the Rangers, due in part to their inability to win faceoffs.
- The New York Rangers power play is now officially the worst I’ve ever seen in my 33 years of hockey fandom. 5.3% – that’s how often they’re scoring with the man advantage in these playoffs. Tonight’s two adventures on the PP featured a complete lack of structure or puck support, as Ranger forwards seemingly took turns attempting 1-on-4 rushes into the Boston zone, with an infuriatingly predictable result. At least the Charge of the Light Brigade inspired a memorable poem; the equally misguided New York power play will just get Assistant Coach Mike Sullivan fired.
- The Rangers forecheck – or lack thereof.
- The Rangers near-total inability to generate sustained pressure in the offensive zone. New York only did this on a couple of shifts. Those few shifts aside, it was very much a one-shot-at-the-net-and-done affair.
- An undisclosed injury to defenseman Anton Stralman. Stralman had his head mashed into the end boards in the second period and seemed somewhat disoriented immediately afterward. He did not return for the third period.
- An apparent injury to Chris Kreider, in the vicinity of his left eye. Early in the third, B’s forward Tyler Seguin got the blade of his stick up under Kreider’s visor on the follow-through of a shot. Kreider did not return to the game, and his status is unknown at the time of this writing.
Where do the Rangers go from here?
Putting a positive spin on things, the Blueshirts only have to win the next game. And the next one. And the next one. And the next one. If they fail to do exactly that, it’s tee time. Can they do it? Theoretically, yes. Will they? Not with that vomit-inducing power play, they won’t. And not with Brad Richards, who played just 58 seconds in the third period of Game Three, mired in the worst funk of his career. So barring a truly miraculous turnaround (or a truly inexplicable collapse by the Bruins), the Rangers are done.