The Rangers came up short, for the fourth and final time in the Stanley Cup finals on Friday night. Dustin Brown hoisted the Cup for the Kings for the second time in three years and the Rangers are left to think what could have been. Sorry for no goal breakdown today but here’s a few thoughts and reflections on game five and the Rangers in general. Chin up Rangers fans, our team did us proud.
The World’s best: Henrik Lundqvist cannot do more than he did last night or in the entire series. He has emphatically proven he is the best goalie in the world and should have been a Conn Smythe contender even on a losing team.
Lundqvist’s rivals for the best goalie in the world tag all arguably have better supporting casts; Rask in Boston, Quick in LA… maybe Price in Montreal is perhaps the only goalie as critical as Lundqvist is to his team. The other contenders; Bobrovsky, Bishop and Mike Smith are not in the same stratosphere as Lundqvist.
Help Henrik: The goals last night; particularly on the first goal, we saw yet again how the Rangers have struggled to clear the space in front of Lundqvist when bigger stronger forwards set up shop.
The Rangers couldn’t move Dwight King all series and it cost them and they allowed Gaborik to get in front and get prime position on the game tying goal. Kevin Klein has helped the Rangers in this area, but this is an area that still needs attention this summer.
In the regular season, Alec Martinez averaged the EIGHTH most ice time among Kings Defenseman. Yet, he had 11 goals in the regular season, scores the cup winning goal and had five goals in the playoffs. That’s the depth that wins you Cups. That’s the depth the Rangers don’t quite have just yet.
Why did the Rangers get to the Cup final? Two huge reasons combined to score the second Rangers goal last night. Carl Hagelin’s speed and intelligence allowed him to steal the puck and Brian Boyle’s desire, surprising ability on the puck and great shot past Quick gave the Rangers hope. It was a great shorthanded goal and the PK is an area where the Rangers absolutely excel. Boyle is a must keep – if the price is right.
(Own opinion alert) If the Rangers were going to lose in the Finals, then I would have wanted Marian Gaborik to have some success. A classy guy who has rebounded in a huge way in LA and someone who I thought tried hard and played well as a Ranger.
Rick Nash, Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh or Derek Stepan… The Rangers had enough grade A chances to win this game and take the series back to New York. The McDonagh shot off the post sums up the series (a series which the Rangers were second best for the most part). This series could simply be looked at as ‘what could have been’. That’s why this hurts so much.
The Kreider breakaway chance is an example why Kreider is not the finished article. He’s a huge, fast guy who always gets or creates chances but he has to get Quick moving there, go side to side and get Quick to commit. If Kreider can improve his finishing, he’ll be even more dangerous.
The Game winner; The Kings break out with Martinez leading the rush, the puck goes right and every Ranger drifts over to the right while Kevin Klein forgets about Martinez. With Lundqvist beaten after stopping the initial shot the Rangers are done. They simply have to do a better job at tracking the open man on the goal but hey; it’s double over time and every player on the ice is probably gassed. I’m finding it hard to be too critical right now.
What did we learn?
- Brad Richards played his last game as a Ranger last Friday night.
- The Rangers need to improve their center position and beef up a little more.
- Brian Boyle is getting paid people. Don’t get too attached just yet.
- Henrik Lundqvist is still very much in his prime. The window to win is wide open folks.
- John Moore and Dan Girardi struggled mightily again. The Rangers need to add a little more depth on the blueline to ease the pressure on the top three.
- This Rangers team have a bright future folks. Believe.