The Rangers definitely played a better game tonight than they did a few days before. They played hard, they gave a great effort, they left it all out there on the ice. But at the end of the day, talent won out. Sure, it wasn’t the talented guys that scored the goals, but the Capitals are the better team, and as such they made their own breaks.
Going into this series, I felt this was the single worst draw the Rangers could have had in the Eastern Conference. They are playing a more talented team, who now knows how to defend in their own zone, who played a tremendous home game, and knows how to win close games. Just like I figured it would, this series has played out to a stalemate for 90% of the game, and the other 10% is when the Caps go on surges and win the games. The Rangers have yet to have productive surges in this series thus far, everything has been one and done. One good shift, then back into the neutral zone for 5 or 6 minutes. The Caps though have been able to string together shift after shift of pressure, and it has worn on the Rangers defense which has made some mistakes, as you expect considering a) their age and b) the quality of player they are playing against.
So what’s the Rangers problem in this series? It’s fairly simple. Who would you rather have on your team…Ovechkin Backstrom and Semin, or Gaborik, Christensen and Prospal. Think long and hard about that one, because I know it’s a difficult question to answer. The Rangers are going to have to do some restructuring this offseason. Their lack of talent on their top line is killing them. The Rangers bottom 9 has been their biggest asset all year long, but without a line to lead the way, they are going to suffer year in and year out against talented teams that work as hard as they do.
Speaking of Gaborik, he’s been the only Ranger thus far to assert his offensive will whatsoever. He’s played a damn good series, and you can really see how badly he wants it. Dubinsky, Drury, Anisimov, Stepan, Boyle, etc however are playing like they are either scared, or they want someone else to score for them. Don’t misunderstand me now, it’s not that they are playing lazy, far from it, they are all working very hard out there, but they don’t seem to want to be “the man” the way a guy like Ovechkin or Semin does. They just want to sit back and blend into the background. This all goes back to what Torts has said repeatedly. They need someone to step up and make a play. Gabby can’t do it all on his own, not playing against a team as good defensively as that one.