In what was the most important game of the season till this point, the Rangers laid a colossal egg in Washington tonight. This was, unquestionably, the worst game the Rangers have played in these playoffs, and probably one of the worst games they’ve played all season long. Don’t let the 2-1 final score fool you. This was a 7-1 shellacking held in check by some outright brilliant goaltending by Henrik Lundqvist.
Henrik alone stands without blame. Everyone else, from Coach John Tortorella who made some very questionable lineup changes heading into this game, to Marian Gaborik who easily played his worst game of the series (playoffs?). This was an epic fail in a game the Rangers could have sealed the deal.
Instead, we have a club heading home to play the Caps where the Caps have played us very strong, and in do or die type games they tend to rise to the occasion on the road. This was not how we wanted to draw this up. Heading into this series I picked Rangers in 7 if the series was played tight checking, and that’s still what I think, but this could easily head the other way if the Rangers don’t show up with some frikkin heart on Saturday.
Let’s first start with Torts. I’m not placing the entire blame on him, nor should anyone. But I do question the line combinations. After the first line, the next 3 looked very head scratching to say the least. I get what he was trying to do with the Anisimov – Boyle – Callahan trio. Shut down Ovechkin. But Stepan with Prust and Fedotenko? Mitchell with Rupp and Kreider? Those 2 lines make zero sense at all. Personally, for game 7 I want to see this lineup.
Hagelin – Richards – Gaborik
Kreider – Stepan – Callahan
Anisimov – Boyle – Fedotenko
Let the 3rd line shut down AO, and play those other 2 lines against their checkers. Kreider needs to see more ice time in this game. He was good in the limited minutes he saw in game 6.
Derek Stepan needs to play with skill players. Putting him with guys like Prust and Feds is just plain stupid. You’re minimizing his talents by putting him with no thumb players. Stepan needs to play with Kreider. Period.
Ryan Callahan, however, has played some pretty mediocre hockey these playoffs, and in this series in particular. In short, he hasn’t been a difference maker. He hasn’t been the guy to go out and take over the game with a dominating shift of him throwing his body around and causing turnovers. Hell, look at Brad Richards miracle goal….Ryan Callahan actually quit on that play before Richards scored. Go watch the replay, Cally takes a little bump and just pulls back and does nothing. That’s not the Ryan Callahan I’m used to seeing. I’m used to seeing a guy who throws his little frame around like it’s a helluva lot bigger. One has to wonder if the captain is injured. I recall him blocking a shot, maybe it was late last series? Since then he hasn’t looked the same. The captain needs to show us something here on Saturday folks. Can’t have him be a spectator the way he’s been for much of this series.
OK, that’s all for now, I’m mad, you’re mad, we’re all mad. Let’s just decompress. We live to play another day. Win or lose, I am still incredibly proud of what this team has been able to accomplish this year. 1 more game to play…win it, and we move to the Eastern Conference Finals.