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So what’s next for the Rangers?

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jeff gorton

Well the season is over, and we’ve done as much postseason post-mortem as we can bear. It’s time to shift focus to the offseason, and how the Rangers will begin to address the many holes on the blue line. Do they retool, or do they tear it down? Which players are heading home from MSG for the final time?

This offseason is different though. There is an expansion draft happening in June, and the Rangers are guaranteed to lose at least one player to Vegas. Who that player is, we don’t know. The expansion draft is the wild card in all this that can force the winds of change on any club, including the Rangers.

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Categories : Offseason
Comments (128)
henrik lundqvist mark stone

Credit: AP / Sean Kilpatrick

While many like to focus on one specific reason behind the demise of the Rangers, it is always a combination of reasons that leads to a team’s demise. Some performances or decisions have more of an impact than others, but there is never one sole reason why a team loses a series. As much fun as it is to point fingers, the reality of the situation is that the Rangers had multiple things that caused them to lose a series that they should have won.

1. Coaching

Of course we need to begin with coaching. Alain Vigneault is a good coach, but severely flawed. His flaws are his own undoing. I dove into this yesterday, but AV’s reliance on experience cost him this series. This had many different impacts, from lineup composition to in-game deployments.

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Categories : Playoffs
Comments (85)

alain vigneault

Throughout the series against the Senators, the one word that consistently came up is experience. “The Rangers will win this series because of experience.” “The Rangers will be able to come back from down 2-0 because of experience.” “The Rangers won’t blow leads because of experience.” “The Rangers won’t panic and will come out firing in Game Six because of experience.”

What the $#&*$#&$ are you guys talking about?

None of that is true. The Rangers were a flawed team for sure, but their coaching cost them a pair of games and a series victory in five. Then their “experience” led to them not showing up for the first two periods last night –which I put solely on the players. How do you not show up for an elimination game?– which in the end cost them the series.

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Categories : Playoffs
Comments (106)
henrik lundqvist

Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The New York Rangers faced elimination last night. They knew they had to come out firing on all cylinders. They knew they had to play with desperation. They knew they had to keep Ottawa on their heels. They did none of that through two periods of play. It wasn’t until the third period when they started to show that fire and that desire to win. But it was too little too late. Ottawa sent the Rangers packing with the 4-2 win.

Rick Nash was by far the best forward all game. He was the only Ranger who played a consistent 60 minutes, trying to create offense. But there was only so much he could do on his own. His teammates had flashes, and most of the club showed up in the third, but again it was too little too late.

On to the goals:

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Categories : Game Wrap-ups
Comments (220)
derek stepan

Photo: AP / Fred Chartrand

The Rangers are in a do-or-die situation tonight. Win and continue. Lose and go home. Experience has been thrown around a lot lately, saying that the Rangers have the guys who have been there before. You know what? I’m sick of that crap. If they have this “experience” then this series would’ve been over by now. No more leaning on experience. Play with desperation. Just win, I don’t care how.

Series Breakdown

We wrote a whole bunch of posts breaking down this matchup. Be sure to check them out:

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Categories : Game Thread
Comments (154)

Thoughts heading into Game 6

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mats zuccarello

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Newsday

The Rangers are facing their first elimination game of the postseason tonight, down 3-2 to Ottawa with Game 6 tonight at MSG. To be bluntly honest, this series should be over already, but the Rangers have been unable to hold a lead in two games, thus giving the Senators a ton of momentum and life in a series that they have led for just 13 minutes. But them’s the breaks in the playoffs. Naturally, I have some thoughts.

1. Of course I have to start with Alain Vigneault. I stand behind my assertion that this series would be over if AV got out of his own way. He was quoted stating that experience only matters if you’re executing, but the experience he is relying on is not executing. It’s time to change things up. If AV adjusts his deployments, doesn’t staple Brady Skjei to the bench, and sits Marc Staal if/when defending a lead, then the Rangers have a legitimate shot. If not, then the players need to outplay their coaches mistakes.

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Categories : Playoffs
Comments (122)

dawson leedahl regina pats

Jeff Gorton’s raid of undrafted free agents continues. This time, he nabbed Regina Pats leading scorer Dawson Leedahl. The 21-year-old LW finished with a line of 35-54-89 in 71 games this season, almost triple his output from last season. He also put up 11-12-23 in 19 playoff games, with his Pats vying for the WHL Championship. He isn’t just a scorer, as Leedahl succeeded with Everett’s defense first system, becoming caption, before his trade to start the season.

Leedahl is a little bit of everything. He scores, plays in all three zones, hits, and leads by example. A good comparison would be Ryan Callahan, but dialing back the expectations a bit. His style is similar, but the Rangers would be lucky to get a huge contributor like that. Regardless, Leedahl adds much needed scoring and physical punch to a Hartford lineup that desperately needs it.

Leedahl certainly needs a few seasons in the AHL before he has a realistic chance of cracking the Rangers roster.

Categories : Transactions
Comments (13)

It’s time to start trusting Brady Skjei

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brady skjei

Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Over the course of the past few weeks, coach Alain Vigneault has come under significant criticism. This is certainly warranted, as he has leaned on his veterans in the playoffs –like most coaches– to deliver late. The problem is that we are now at three games where these veterans have coughed up a late lead. All three times, the Rangers wound up losing in overtime.

While the players on the ice seem to change when the tying goal is scored, the one constant is that Brady Skjei rarely sees ice time in these situations. On Saturday, he was benched for the final five minutes. The Senators tied it late and won in overtime. The same thing happened in Game 2. Same result. He saw just one shift in Game 2 against Montreal. Same result.

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Categories : Players
Comments (50)
henrik lundqvist

Credit: AP / Adrian Wyld

The Rangers tried to cling to a late lead in the third period, having taken a 4-3 lead with 10 minutes remaining. However Alain Vigneault continues to bench Brady Skjei and lean on guys who have cost him games in the past, and it burned him yet again. The tying goal in the third was very flukey (off three Rangers), but at some point someone needs to legitimately question why Skjei rides the pine with a late lead. It may not be a direct cause of this outcome, but it’s certainly something that needs to be looked at, especially with the awful game Marc Staal had.

That said, Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t god-like in this game. He made a bad turnover that wound up in the net, and then the OT winner looked a little soft. But then again, the Senators had a pair of flukey goals. One off a post and one off three Rangers. So, I don’t really know. The Rangers aren’t getting any bounces this series. JT Miller also hit the crossbar in overtime. Regardless, there is no reason to be benching one of the top three defensemen with a lead to protect.

On to the goals:

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Categories : Game Wrap-ups
Comments (108)
jesper fast

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett

The Rangers have stormed back in this series, completely dominating the Senators in back-to-back 4-1 wins to even the series. It wasn’t just the score, it was the manner in which the Rangers played. They dominated every facet of each game, frustrating the Senators to a point of trying to “set the tone” at the end of Game 4. It didn’t work. Now the Rangers have a chance to destroy their morale in their own building.

Perhaps lost in some of the Tanner Glass craze over the last few days is that the Rangers have scored 13 goals in the past three games. They have begun pressuring the Ottawa defensemen at the blue line, which is forcing turnovers and odd man rushes the other way. They’ve been putting Craig Anderson in a position to exploit his weaknesses, and it’s been working. Need to keep doing that.

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Categories : Game Thread
Comments (189)