Three keys behind the Rangers playoff defeat

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.

Starting with the lineup composition, AV deserves some credit for swapping in Pavel Buchnevich for Tanner Glass after Game 2 in Montreal. AV also deserves some credit for recognizing that Buchnevich looked a little overwhelmed against the Senators, and sitting him for a game. I know it’s hard to believe, but I actually have no problem with re-inserting Glass in that situation.

The problem, at least for me, was after Game 5 when Glass played poorly. Buchnevich was not re-inserted into the lineup. Instead AV relied on Glass and that experience again. Glass was a non-factor in Game 6.

That was just the tip of the iceberg, and AV has earned all the criticism he gets when talking about the blue line. I could go on for years on this, so let’s just stick to the basics. Marc Staal was atrocious, as was Nick Holden. Only Holden saw one game in the pressbox, and that was for Kevin Klein, someone else who can’t skate.

Banished to Siberia was Adam Clendening, who may not be a long-term solution, but was at least a viable solution to the Holden/Staal problem. It’s tough to say whether inserting him into the lineup would have had a positive impact, but considering what we saw from that dynamic duo, what was there to lose?

And that, in turn, led to poor in-game deployment. Three times throughout the playoffs AV leaned on Marc Staal in the final minutes to preserve a lead. Three times Staal was on the ice for the tying goal. Three times the Rangers lose those games. No changes were made. Not even to bench Staal and play Brady Skjei, who had a great playoffs.

AV wasn’t outcoached by Guy Boucher. He was outcoached by himself and his blind loyalty to experience over recent performance.

2. Exection

The Rangers were always a flawed team, but they were good enough to beat an inferior Senators team. The problem was they didn’t consistently execute. Games 3 and 4 were clinics defensively. It was how we expected the Rangers to perform, locking down the high priced real estate and forcing Ottawa to take bad shots.

However that was only for two games. Aside from that, the Rangers tried to run-and-gun against a 1-1-3 (and later 1-3-1) trap, and failed miserably. Sure, they scored a bunch, but they also gave up a lot more. Henrik Lundqvist can only do so much when he is facing second, third, and fourth chances, or when he is facing point blank shots, or when he is facing centering passes to wide open players at the back door.

The execution in their own end was wildly inconsistent, but not as bad as their execution in the offensive zone. Names like Chris Kreider, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, and Derek Stepan disappeared from the broadcast for long stretches, sometimes games. Four of the top-five scorers in the regular season, 213 points between them, down to 16 throughout the playoffs. Stepan had six points in 12 games, Kreider had four. Hayes and Miller had three each. So much for primary scoring.

But at least Mika ZIbanejad, Rick Nash, and Mats Zuccarello showed up. At least the fourth line contributed. But that’s half the roster that isn’t contributing regularly. You can’t win with half the team serving as passengers.

3. The powerplay

The powerplay converted on just 3 of 39 powerplay opportunities through the 12 games in the playoffs this year. That’s good for a 7.7% success rate and 15th among the 16 playoff teams (St. Louis was dead last at 6.7%). But it’s not just about the goals, which can run dry in a string of bad luck, it’s about the process. And if you’ve been here a while, you know we are big on process.

To be frank, we could spend ages on the powerplay. The lack of a true quarterback showed, as teams didn’t respect the point. The lack of shooters showed, as teams were content to just let the Rangers play catch along the perimeter. The lack of a net-front presence showed, as goalies routinely saw every single shot.

But that’s just scratching the surface. The Rangers failed to get the goalie to move, to present him with difficult shots. They failed to make the defenders move, content to just stand in their 1-3-1 and make the same predictable passes before taking a slapshot from the top of the circle. Some would get deflected, some would be there for a rebound. But for the most part they were swallowed up by the goalie.

You certainly don’t need a great powerplay to succeed in the playoffs, but a great powerplay can get you past subpar even strength play. Since the Rangers were consistently inconsistent at 5v5, their powerplay woes were highlighted and on full blast. After all, I don’t really remember many complaints about the powerplay in Games 3 or 4, just in the games they lost.

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85 thoughts on “Three keys behind the Rangers playoff defeat

  • May 11, 2017 at 6:35 am

    Pretty much Dave. The King could not bail out his team in the Sens’ series like he did for the 12 previous years and the Habs’ series this year. Even King fans admit that.

    That being said, way too many impact players did zilch, for the most part. I posted my grades (IMO) yesterday, and there were a lot of players that got big minutes that got Cs, Ds, and Fs. So the players are at fault, no question.

    And on top of that, you have a coach who directly caused at least 3 playoff losses. Losing 3 games because the opponent pulled the goalie, tied it, and then won it in OT is unforgivable. Once? ok, but not 3 times. That points to strategy and that’s on the coach. Absolving him because “he doesn’t play on the ice” is nonsense. If that’s the case then why have a coach at all?

    I think the core of this team will be gutted. Brooks said that Shaaty is not an option for the Rangers, but I believe not as a top pair D man. I think the Rangers trade for someone to play with McD AND sign Shatty to help the PP that is God awful. Stepan, Miller, or Kreider may certainly go in a trade to get that top D man, and it should be Trouba IMO. He and McD would form one of the top pairs in the league and slotting Shatty on the 2nd pair with Skjei would be great as well. D problem solved.

    • May 11, 2017 at 7:24 am

      I would keep Kreider of those 3, it will sure hurt like hell too lose Miller, because he is good when he is on, but he is a no show alot also. I’ve liked Trouba since I first saw him in Wcj some years ago, that first D Pair would be awesome. What do you think of Shattenkirks playoff performance? I was not impressed, whether that was because of him being with the team a short time or he isn’t as good as people think I dont know, what do you say?

      • May 11, 2017 at 7:59 am

        Love Trouba and the McD/Trouba pairing would be one if the best in the league. I have been a huge Miller fan even when the coach was not, but you have to give to get. I know the Jets have a lot of forwards and would probably look for a lefty D man in return (I think that Skjei is off the table for that).

        So then there’s the Stepan to Minny possibilities. The playoffs showed that the Wild don’t have the centers and the offense they thought they had. Bring Derek home!!

        Shatty is having a terrible playoffs and I don’t know if he “checked out” after being traded to the Caps. That would be unfortunate but who knows? He’s not great in his own zone but that’s not why we would get him. I have heard that he has circled his FA date to try and sign with the Rangers. I have heard from 2 separate areas that this is a “done deal.” That doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen but I am pretty confident that it will, regardless of what Brooks says.

        But Shatty is not a top pair guy so they will have to trade to get one, whether it’s Trouba, Spurgeon, Justin Faulk, etc. with Shatty being on the 2nd pair with Skjei.

        • May 11, 2017 at 10:33 am

          The first & major criterion for a D is can he play in the D-zone and win puck battles along the boards. You look at guys like Klein & Holden who fill the net but are atrocious defenders. Getting Shatty for offence or the PP is a misguided adventure, especislly if his contract exceeds 3.5 million. That’s all he’s worth but he’s no saviour.

        • May 12, 2017 at 11:37 am

          No need to overpay for Trouba, when Wild has 5 defensemen exposed to Vegas, take Dumba, give them Graves, rights for Clendy, Gropp and it could be enough, or get Brodin, those trades will not require player such as Miller

      • May 11, 2017 at 8:11 am


        Earlier I said watch Shatty, he’s not that good, and way over rated. During the PO’s he did nothing, exactly what I thought he would do. Bottom line, he would be a nice fit for the PP, but that’s about it. Oh, and I wouldn’t pay the fool $6 mil per year!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • May 11, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Hey Buddy,

      I agree with you and your post. I want to add to it as well in regard to the possible targets Gorton will or should go after. Before that, the PowerPlay. I do not understand why the coaching staff (Arnel) did not move Zib to the left side where he should be. I thought Linburg should have been on the PP in the playoff’s because of Oscar face-off skills. Now, there is no big right handed shot from the blue line.

      Jonathan Ericsson RHD- plays shutdown minutes and the PK, the Rangers could have used this type of player in the playoffs rather than what we witness in the Staal/Holden combo.

      Jason Demers-RHD- young still and would be a nice addition to play on the PK and PP, 2nd pairing player

      Chris Tanev- RHD- smart player, excels at holding up the blueline for the opposition-zone entries. Not a scorer but would be a good addition for what people call a stay at home defensive man these days.

      Jared Spurgeon- RHD- if Gorton cannot make a Trouba deal happen, I would really see if Spurgeon can be traded for. I doubt it but if not Matt Dumba could be had.

      Sami Vatanen RHD

      Anton Stralman-RHD- we all know he should have been retained.

      T.J. Brodie-RHD- Pipe-dream but I wish we had a player like this on our Rangers.

  • May 11, 2017 at 7:20 am

    it is time to look at the make up of this team the defense is getting old you have to get rid of either Staal or Dan G and build the defense around Skei and Smith and McDonough and get Shatty from Washington if the price is right then up front Stepan did not have a good series it is time to unload him and Nash as well build around the kids that is Kreider, Miller, Hayes and Vesey it is time to make this team better

  • May 11, 2017 at 7:42 am

    To me, it may not again be possible to address all areas in the off-season. What you can do is acquire a real QB for the PP who is also a good second pair defense man.

    You also need to replace Scott Arneil if you are not replacing AV. The message needs to be sent load and clear.

    Staal / Girardi – one has to be bought out, preferably Staal. The other needs sheltered 3rd pair minutes.

    As for our heartless offensive 4; we need to make some moves. Use them to bring back some talented players with spirit. This team will never have the best player on the ice at any time. Maybe we get buckets of picks. Maybe we move lots of salary and make a play for Taveras. What I do know is we need a 1C. That player is NOT on our current roster.

    I like the line about AV not being a wartime Consigliere. True statement. He needs soldiers and what he had left the battlefield.

    • May 11, 2017 at 7:57 am

      I made the comment and I want to apologize for all my rants, the truth is this defeat left me so upset. Dave said it well, losing to a team we should beat…

      I have been freaking out calling for players to be hung, coaching changes etc…

      I am just a mess… Seeing Henrik make some of the SICK saves and watching him not get a chance at the cup once again, for no fault off his…

      I have just been a ranter…

      but I am hopeful for the offseason and next year.


      • May 11, 2017 at 8:25 am

        Don’t apologize. You and I are the people who bleed blue. I scream at the TV too, and get sick of the bonehead plays. Then I watch Pitt vs. Washington and see both teams play with so much heart in both ends of the ice – kind of like they both want it – EVERY SHIFT.

        It makes me think why didn’t we play with that same urgency? Is it our leader? I hate Sindy Crosby as much as anyone, but he surely leads by example. Goes hard and never gives up. Same for Ovie. Does McDonogh do that? He is our “quiet” leader. Same for Stepan and Nash. Well maybe we need a Tanner-Glass-Like leader (just his style, not him at all).

        Hockey is an emotional game and we play it like a chess match. It may be time to change the dynamics of this team. Bring in some fire on AND behind the bench, but get the right combination as we do not need another Torts.

        I really think the key to the whole off-season is McPhee. If he feels the need to make deals and make an immediate impact in Las Vegas, then we might have a trading partner. Talk to him, leave some people unprotected, ensure they get selected or don’t get selected and make behind the scene deals.

        Work with Anaheim and Winnepeg who have needs and problems. Decide if JT, Hayes and Kreider are still worth waiting for or if their trade value fills a big hole on the back end. Does our 4th line become our 3rd line? Is it time to shop Hank?

        One thing I am pretty certain of, and that is AV is not going anywhere.

        • May 11, 2017 at 9:24 am

          Did you watch the Pens-Caps game yesterday, Sal?

          The Caps were flat. They couldn’t generate anything (certainly nothing resembling the Rangers ferocious 3rd period of Game 6). They were missing passes left and right, turning the puck over, losing board battles, and every scoring opportunity that looked to be developing tended to end in them forcing something that wasn’t there and the Pens just cleaned it up and exited the zone. They were booed –at home– throughout the final two minutes when they couldn’t get a clean zone entry to save their lives. Another Presidents Trophy season, another 2nd round exit.

          You want the Rangers to be more like them?

          • May 11, 2017 at 9:54 am

            Not me, but I would like to see a head coach that can influence a playoff outcome, rather than throw the same players out into the same situations. Here’s a great summary of what helped the Penguins’ players last night:

            from Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

            Most observers (columnist sheepishly raises his hand) thought the Penguins were cooked after the Monday Night Massacre. The Capitals seemed to be progressively outplaying them, to the point where Game 6 was not competitive.

            The Capitals were finally going to have their day. They weren’t going to be the Buffalo Bills anymore (although at least the Bills made it to the Super Bowl).

            But that was before Sullivan put his team through a rigorous, 45-minute workout/tutorial Tuesday, before he made a series of tactical changes, reworked all his lines, changed two of his defense pairs and inserted Carter Rowney and Scott Wilson into the lineup.

            If the Penguins were going to go down, it wouldn’t be because the coach was stubborn.

            “His ability to stay calm and refocus us is something our team feeds off of,” said defenseman Ian Cole. “His message was, ‘Nothing that happened before matters; it only matters what you’re going to do tonight to help this team win.’ “

            • May 11, 2017 at 10:45 am

              A lot of people on this board do not understand how critical the coaching factor is, but you’ve nailed it. As Richter said above, if it’s all on the players, then why even have a coach. Might as well go back to the once tried player-coach. A coach has to be a tactician AND a motivator. He has to, channeling Dave, put his players in the best position to succeed. He has to inspire his team to coalesce as an entity to attack the “enemy.” AV does none of those and I agree with Brandon Cohen’s piece this morning that advocates for his firing. Change all the pieces you want, but with AV as coach there is no Stanley Cup. If you are content with a good season & the playoffs, then he can be your man.

              • May 11, 2017 at 12:57 pm

                It’s easy to get all caught up with Sully, but any coaching mistake he makes is covered up by the fact that he gets to work with elite generational superstars. Somehow, it makes coaching a heck of a lot easier.

                Sully would likely deliver the same results that AV has delivered here–perhaps worse. We already saw how abysmal his PP was when we was assistant coach here. Amazing what happens when you have high end talent to work with as opposed to “Faux Stars” who disappear come playoff time.

              • May 11, 2017 at 8:42 pm

                “Sully would likely deliver the same results that AV has delivered here–perhaps worse”

                I have a hard time believing he’d trot out 5 / 18 / 22 / & 15 for anything vaguely resembling crunch time.

                Stop defending the guy like he’s Vince Lombardi or something.

                Good system & hockey mind? Sure.
                Good coach & the right guy? LOL no

                (and yes, that’s logically irrelevant to the fact that there’s few upgrades out there at the moment. Stop going there, you’re killing me with the non-sequitur crap)

        • May 11, 2017 at 11:20 am

          Thanks! Thanks all, I know I am more a rookie fan in terms of overall knowledge, but in my past life on championship teams and seeing that certain something… I feel the coaches ways building those things that you can’t see, but they are there…

          cheers, its almost friday, i’m drinking to t[put this all in the past…


      • May 11, 2017 at 8:55 am

        No reason to apologize pass…………. Passion is a good thing and you showed your passion. Now if we could get our players to show passion…………………………

  • May 11, 2017 at 8:07 am

    It’s too bad that Dr Michael De Bakey is deceased, this team really needs a heart transplant!!!!!!!!!!

    • May 11, 2017 at 8:26 am

      Heart, drive, grit, the Rangers need lots of things. Leadership is another. Maybe we should stop wasting draft picks. I know you and I as well as many others on here agree with that. The two we traded for Smith were good draft picks traded away. Unlike the many wasted on over-the-hill “stars”. Money wasted=Cap space on players like Dan Boyle still make me cringe.
      I firmly believe that crap stops with Gorton.

      • May 11, 2017 at 8:45 am


        The transplant covers all you mentioned in one word. As for the draft picks, please I just had a nice breakfast, don’t get me going. I find it amazing how both the Caps, and the Pens, are up there in the standings, and have a wonderful AHL training team, Wilkes-Barre, and Hershey, who are both terrific.

        If you watch the PO’s, the Pens have been carried by kids for the most part, who came up thru their system, and they did the same last year. We on the other hand have nothing, and have to resort to undrafted UFA, and pray they can help.

        I think your right, JG won’t go down that route, and hopefully he drafts well, no more old farts on trainer skates to help them get down ice, see Staal, and Girardi as an example of veteran leadership. Barf!!!!!!!!!

  • May 11, 2017 at 8:52 am

    If Shattenkirk’s price is fair than I sign him four years no more. Re sign Smith again at a fair price and years. Staal and G must be bought out or traded doesn’t matter for who what or where. They both mustn’t be on the roster come this fall. Don’t want to hear about cap hits etc. etc. you made the bed now lay in it. See where the new Russian players are with their development along with Graves. Graves starts both pair and by play off time like Skjei ready to battle. Up front Stepan mustn’t be on this roster for the start of 2017/18 season. If Trouba is to be a target I don’t over pay that’s what great GM’s don’t do over pay. If one of the young three has to go for Trouba let it be Hayes. But I rather keep all three myself and not trade for Trouba. How far away is Sean Day? If it’s only a year or two I don’t trade for Trouba unless it’s a steal. See I’m not concerned about Hank’s window because the Russian goalie is a star. Up front Stepan must go did I mention that? Don’t want to know his point total it’s goals and he lets others get dirty while he floats. Dave Kingman hit home runs but most came with nobody on and the game decided. Great at hitting mistakes but when you had to get him out it was easy. Stepan is a prima donna how worn out his welcome. If he’s still on this team in October no CUP and the GM doesn’t no what he’s doing. Protect Oscar, Jesper and Grabner in the expansion draft. Expose Stepan and move on from the old core already.

    • May 11, 2017 at 9:05 am

      Harlem, I have to agree with your premise. No stupid move for the sake of “one more kick at the can” mentality. SMART signings and that includes Shattenkirk. For the right money and the right term, fine, but DON’T freaken overpay! We have seen where overpaying and no move clauses have gotten us. I loved your Kingman analogy, as a Met fan I know exactly what you mean. Although I am extremely disappointed in Krieder, he has the talent. Maybe another coach could cure the inconsistency bug he suffers from. That inconsistency should have been addressed during the season, and wasn’t.
      Like you, I am not concerned about Hank. If he values staying a Ranger for the remainder of his career, fine great, he’s ours. But if the Cup is more important, then see if we can work out a trade with a team that needs goaltending and is closer to the “prize” than we are.
      As I’ve stated I believe Gorton is a smart GM. This off season might be his most difficult for years to come.

      • May 11, 2017 at 10:50 am

        I hate to say this, but I have lost some of my faith in Gorton, for whom I had high hopes . But he has done some things that boggle my mind, three especially. But I haven’t given up on him.

        • May 11, 2017 at 11:11 am

          1) E. Staal trade
          2) AV extension


          • May 11, 2017 at 7:55 pm

            1) Signing Brandon Pirri
            2) Trading DMAC
            3) Extension

            Given Staal’s performance this year I can’t fault Gordon for that, although I would not have made that trade.

            As for Holden, he was acquired to appease the coach. Big mistake because he sucked.

            • May 11, 2017 at 8:12 pm

              1) Signing Pirri…Big deal. Every team makes depth signings to round out a roster. One year deal. Not like it kept us from grabbing someone else. He’ll be gone. Irrelvant.

              2) I suppose that since they obviously could have kept him in Hartford to develop some more, perhaps it could be viewed as a mistake down the road IF he ever develops….which right now seems like no better than a 50/50 chance. And even if he does, develop into what? Hard to see him as anything more than a journeyman NHL player.

              But as for the here and now, since he isn’t an NHL player, and every NHL team already said thanks but no thanks, hard to say that was a mistake.

              3) Believe it or not, I agree with you. I wouldn’t have given AV an extension at the time they did so. But the fact that they did, plus no “all in moves”, proves they are thinking one or two years down the road to legitimately contend. So if that’s the case, then I’m ok with it.

              Agree on Staal. Hard to really see how he would have fit. But wish he could have been kept.

              Holden? You know this how exactly? Why do you insist on making up narratives that are likely not remotely close to the truth. Gorton didnt want him but he got him to appease AV? Please! Your just upset because Holden replaced your boy, who’s appropriately toiling in the minors where he belongs at the moment.

        • May 11, 2017 at 11:22 am

          Fire Gorton!

    • May 11, 2017 at 10:36 am

      Sean Day needs at least one full season in the AHL. He needs to work on his decision making and holding his own with Opposition-Zone entities. Day had the ability to be a really good two-way defensive, his skating is off the charts good. His frame is already built for the NHL. If Day can put it all together consistently for one season in the NHL, he would be up to the big club for the 2018 season. Could be a top 4 defensive-man like a Jay Bouwmesster but with greater skating skills.

    • May 11, 2017 at 11:35 am

      Couldn’t agree more harlemblues!!!!
      Like I have said for years , most knowledgeable fans like yourself could run this team as well as , if not better than sather …..and maybe gorton!!!!
      Stepan , girardi, stall should have been moved 3 years ago!!!!
      Signing those 3 and even a 34 year old goalie to big contracts was just plain short sighted and stupid!!!!

  • May 11, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Another high salary under performing player ie: Shattenkirk is not the solution (he wasn’t the answer for the Caps).

    The Rangers need to unload some of their high priced underachieving help. They need more young talent on the blueline for sure (another Brady Skjei).

    Further, it is dishonest to say that Lundqvist wasn’t part of the reason why New York couldn’t get it done against Ottawa. His inconsistent play this season carried through into the playoffs.. Their porous defence and shaky goaltending was their demise.

    • May 11, 2017 at 9:41 am

      He was a factor, but we’re talking somewhere around # 5 or 6 on the list. His one standout failure in the series was game 2, but for the most part the criticism comes from him not being able to match what he did in the Montreal series, which would’ve been asking for a superhuman performance…again.

      He’s expected to be great, he was good, and for that, he should get some blame, but just not as much as some of the other players (coaches) that were a bigger reason for losing the series.

  • May 11, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Obviously any team with Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel is going to be in contention, and it certainly helps to have Fleury playing locked in hockey again.

    However, it’s really astounding how the Penguins continue to get so much out of guys who’d be scrubs (or at least depth players at best) on any other team. Last year, it was Connor Sheary, Nick Bonino, Carl Hagelin, and Bryan Rust.

    This year so far it’s Jake Guentzel and again Bryan Rust. These are not guys who you’d expect to contribute at such levels on any other team, and yet year after year, the Penguins have a handful of bottom six forwards performing at a 2nd line level.

    It’s so frustrating to see them squeeze every bit of talent and production out of every guy on the roster every postseason. No one ever seems to disappear in the playoffs for them. Their best players are their best players, and everyone else pulls their weight, and sometimes even more.

    Doesn’t matter who’s coaching, that team just gets it done.

    • May 11, 2017 at 10:04 am

      Oh, it matters greatly who is coaching. Mike Sullivan inherited a team that was not nearly this passionate across the board. Bylsma had become stale to the players, as I recall things his last 2 seasons. Sullivan has done an outstanding job, in my view. But your broader points are spot-on; continuity from the AHL-to-NHL club is envy of the league….

      • May 11, 2017 at 11:28 am

        To your point-

        Feb 2009: Bylsma took over for Therrien. Result- cup in June 2009

        Dec 2015: Sullivan took over for Johnston. Result- cup in June 2016

        ….. oh if only the Torts/AV swap could have resulted in 3 more wins in June of 2014.

        • May 11, 2017 at 12:17 pm

          Yeah, that coaching change made a tremendous difference there. Re-motivating hotdog man to care about hockey once more didn’t hurt either.

          You know, in my opinion, they don’t get enough criticism. Chicago being remembered as a ‘dynasty’ is something they should collectively be ashamed of. Nothing against Toews but, him (among others) being on the ‘100 greatest playerz evar’ list is a crock of $#!T.

          With the exception of the (2, I think) years he was absent in the playoffs, there really isn’t an excuse as to why they lost when they did…. something this Ranger team just showed if you need any further proof.

          (obviously (should) go without saying that #30 single-handily won those 2 series for us)

    • May 11, 2017 at 10:55 am

      That’s what great coaching can do, Chris. It’s not all about superstars. Think of the 94 Rangers & what they got from guys like Matteau & Tikkanen. The defence was Beuke, Jay Wells, Doug Lidster, Karpotsev, Zubov & Leetch. Two great D & four journeymen, but they were “all in”, driven by a coach & Captain who would not tolerate anything but your best.

    • May 11, 2017 at 11:01 am

      Jake Guentzel’s going to be a really good NHL player. Rust is a solid player. Hagelin, as we know, is a fantastic NHL player.

    • May 11, 2017 at 11:30 am

      Agree on the broader premise, but on Guentzel…. he didn’t come out of nowhere. Has been all over top prospects lists for some time now. But to your point, he seems to be flourishing more than expected given he gets to play with Crosby. Put anyone with him- Sheary, Kunitz, etc……. and they flourish.

    • May 11, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      It is impressive, but the guy who deserves the lion’s share of the credit is Rutherford (and Shero before him). Of course coaching matters, but the Pens GMs have done an amazing job.

      Let’s try to remember two things. First, what would some of those young players be like if there was no Crosby and Malkin on the team? I suspect a lot more ordinary. Those are generational talents that make everyone around them better. If Kreider, Hayes or Miller were playing on the same team as those guys, they’d be perceived as legit stars as opposed to the faux stars they are at the moment.

      Second, of course Sully deserves tons of credit. But let’s take a step back. This team was loaded with A list talent that was underachieving. This is not exactly a “Miracle on Ice” here. Sully was available after the Vancouver debacle. No one wanted him. The next year, the only reason he got the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton job was because Shero went to NJ and brought Hynes with him. Rutherford needed an AHL coach and went with Sully. This wasn’t some ingenious move here. Rutherford had every intention of sticking with Johnston. Didn’t work out, and then in came Sully on an interim basis. If Hynes had still been with the organization, it’s likely that he would have his name on the Cup right now. Sometimes, it’s about right place, right time.

      But I get it, we have to pine away for what we don’t have and make a coach who is blessed with elite talent the answer to our prayers. He deserves credit, but likely is no savior for the Rangers or any other organization with lesser talent.

    • May 11, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      That’s what TRUE SUPERSTARS do make AHLers NHLers and the Rangers don’t have any. You can’t mention Sid, Geno and Phil and how’re they doing it. It’s because of Sid,Geno and Phil and a Flower. Two of the best centers in the WORLD hello the WORLD. You win CUPS with SUPERSTAR CENTERS. Check the records.

      • May 11, 2017 at 1:42 pm

        Exactly right. But some out here think Sully came in and sprinkled magic dust on these kids, and THAT is why they are doing so well. They forget how abysmal the Rangers PP was under Sully when he was here. By comparison, Arniel’s PP looks like a juggernaut!

        • May 11, 2017 at 4:49 pm

          No but, his approach to the game (no-whining allowed) was, arguably, the spark that has been missing there for years.

          For years, everyone was afraid to tell them what they needed to hear. There’s a focus that was once absent there.

          I don’t think the prior miracles achieved by beating these guys would have happened if Sully have coaching them at the time…. just my 2c, though

          • May 11, 2017 at 4:50 pm

            err, correction,

            [ if sully ****was**** coaching them at the time ]

  • May 11, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Let us not get too down. Let’s remember that this was a flawed team that had to hit in all cylinders to beat good teams. Let’s be forward looking.

    I am not for trading any of our young forwards unless they fetch a talented young defenseman. Miller, Hayes and to some extent Kreider, had disappointing playoff performances, but they each had pretty good regular season results. They are still young and they are talented. They are worth trying to develop further. No player is perfect. These young men have a lot of potential. Vesey and Buchnevich are keepers no doubt. They will be good players with more experience.

    I hope they can retain Lindbergh and Fast. They are both young and tenacious. They exhibit a passion for playing and give it their all. Michael Grabner would be nice to keep so I hope he is back and not claimed in the draft. He was very good in the playoffs, and not only when he scored a few goals. He proved to be pretty darn good defensively and worked hard. He also managed to score on a couple of top notch goalies and had a couple of key assists.

    Nash gave it his all, as did Zucc. Zibanejad came on to have a good playoffs. Nash, because of his age and cost, should be near the end of his time with the Rangers unless he is willing to take a significant pay cut to stay in his next contract. Zucc and Mika are keepers.

    Yeah, let’s do something about the blue liners. McDonough, Skjei and Smith are the only keepers there. Bring up Graves, throw him in and let him learn on the job like Skjei learned. I am not a big Shatty fan. Get some young defenders and let them learn. It would be far better than watching Staal, Girardi and Klein with their diminishing abilities. Gorton will have to work some miracles there.

    I am not impressed with the claim that AV lost the Rangers some games. If their best players played better, they would have won despite AV’s miscues. He just got an extension, so he is going to be the coach for the foreseeable future. Get over it.

    I have a great deal of confidence in Jeff Gorton. May the hockey gods smileth upon him this offseason!

    • May 11, 2017 at 10:09 am

      I agree with much of what you say Peter and, while I’ve been v critical of AV and differ with you there, this playoff outcome was sealed last summer, in my view, when Gorton opted for patience and discipline and chose not to effect a trade which reportedly would have upgraded our defense at the expense of our forward depth down the middle (likely Stepan). that may prove the right decision down the road but when we opted to go with this defense, it was inevitable we’d lose before the Conference Finals. I just did not anticipate losing to an inferior team, and that is where the disappointment comes into play (with the players and head coach). This should be unacceptable for any winning organization. I am concerned Stepan’s trade value versus last summer has only declined. We’ll see what Gorton does though; all eyes are now on him.

    • May 11, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Peter I respect your opinions, but you are totally, totally wrong about AV. If you think he is going to throw Graves out there & learn on the job, you are delusional. Did he do that with McIlrath or Clendening? Todd Nelson in Grand Rapids throws DMAC out on the PK all the time & described his play as outstanding. He related that his team was too soft in the regular season, but knew they needed physicality to beat Milwaukee & Chicago whom he refers to as “heavy” teams. He often uses five forwards on the leagues best PP. Do you think AV would ever do that? Stop kidding yourself.

      • May 11, 2017 at 12:03 pm


        He did it with Brady Skjei, Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich. So, I don’t think it is that big if a stretch at all. Three rookies played pretty regularly.

        29 other GM’s passed on Dylan and Florida sent him to the AHL after having him ride the pine. He may get a shot now and that will be great because he may be ready, but he wasn’t ready when he was up with either NHL team previously.

        • May 11, 2017 at 1:17 pm

          Exactly Peter.

          Paul, sorry, you are WAY off base here, for all the reasons Peter just said. Skjei being the prime example. If Graves is ready and there is a roster space, I’m sure AV will give him a shot.

          You yourself questioned whether Clendening was any good as I recall. I’m in the same camp. Now all of a sudden, he’s an example of AV not playing a young player? This is a guy that six organizations have said thanks but no thanks. A RH defenseman who can help on the PP? Six organizations in THREE years. Will he even be in the league next year?

          Again, stunning how obsessed you are with McIlrath that you blame it all on AV, try to somehow equate AHL success (and I would add MARGINAL to that) as somehow and indictment of AV, when every single NHL team passed on him….TWICE! But you conveniently ignore him to prop up your false narrative.

          Again, I have no idea what McIlrath will be next year. No one does. But it is already crystal clear what the entire NHL community thinks of Dylan McIlrath today–he is NOT an NHL caliber player. Not at the moment.

          Let’s try to stick with some level of objectivity and reality here, shall we?

    • May 11, 2017 at 11:04 am

      The theory of bringing in young D is good, but do we buy out G & S and live in cap hell for years? I believe G can be traded now, but not sure. Anybody know when his NMC is up?

      • May 11, 2017 at 12:26 pm

        I think we might be better served by trying to bribe a team to take staal’s cap (at full or half, if necessary).

        I don’t know…. maybe we can bury both on LTIR? Didn’t LA do that? it’s not like they haven’t earned it (no shame in being permanently damaged by injury, I guess)……

        • May 11, 2017 at 1:26 pm

          I don’t think they can do that. There would be a grievance filed. No chance they can go on LTIR unless a doctor confirmed a legit reason for it.

          According to, Girardi has three years left at $5.5 mil/per. His NMC has expired, and from here, he has a modified NTC.

          Staal has four years left at $5.7 mil/per. He has one more year with a full NMC, then a modified NTC in the final three years.

          So in theory, Girardi presumably would be easier to deal or would be less of a cap hit if the Rangers wanted to buy him out.

          • May 11, 2017 at 1:31 pm

            Ouch EEE, those contracts are killers.

            • May 11, 2017 at 1:39 pm

              Yep…clearly, in retrospect, a massive miscalculation by Sather and Co.

              • May 11, 2017 at 2:39 pm

                again!!!!!!!!!! so what else is new with Sather?

  • May 11, 2017 at 10:29 am

    JT Miller has now played 40 playoff games in his career and has scored….wait for it….1 (one)…goal.

    His last 37 games this year, he had 13 points. He stopped in mid-February.

    If someone wants to overpay for him in a trade, let’s find that team right now. But, I doubt if anyone is going to overpay for him.

    • May 11, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      Exactly. Miller, Hayes and Kreider were supposed to lead this team. Stepan too. They were mediocre to bad the final 25 games of the season and for the most part non-existent in the playoffs. THAT is the primary reason why we find the Rangers out of the playoffs. The coach bears responsibility to, but the absence of our so-called stars should be the bigger concern and critique here.

  • May 11, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Guys, can we stop lamenting the loss? Let’s start looking forward to next season. The Rangers’ 2017-2018 season has already started.

    • May 11, 2017 at 11:06 am

      Sorry 43, I love your passion for the team, but for me personally, if AV is the coach next year, I can’t get too excited about getting that damn Cup.

  • May 11, 2017 at 11:10 am

    “Here’s what Vigneault said after the bitterly disappointing loss, via AP.

    “The four games we lost in this series, it’s as simple as them making one more play defensively or one more play offensively,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We were in all of those games, we didn’t make the defensive play when we needed to and we didn’t make the offensive play to bury them. You have to give them a lot of credit. They played well and they deserved to win.”

    If he truly believes the difference with his roster is one play, he’s not the right man for the job.”

    I just read that & this guy has nailed it right on. That assessment by AV of why the Rangers failed is nothing short of absurd. We need somebody smarter than that to coach this team. It’s time for The Messiah Part II.

    • May 11, 2017 at 11:19 am

      That was from the press conference immediately following the loss. He’s not gonna stand there, start rifling off names. It’s unprofessional to place blame like that in that situation. Anyone watching that press conference expecting AV to say, “Well, it’s pretty clear that we’re gonna buy out G, and that Miller and Stepan are going on the trade block, we blew it trading for Holden, Marc Staal is awful, Hank is whining and being too harsh on his teammates, etc.” is an idiot.

      • May 11, 2017 at 11:47 am

        Agree. Fruitless to expect to hear truths in press conferences. They are a dog and pony show where all participants just go through the motions.

      • May 11, 2017 at 12:29 pm

        But those are also stupid things to say. If you announce that you are determined to trade Miller and Stepan, you lower their trade value. Why didn’t the Rangers get more for Cam Talbot? Because everyone knew the Rangers wanted a less expensive backup goalie and so would seek the best offer, but frankly take anything they could get. The players that draw the most in trade are the ones you want to keep – or at least make the world think you want to keep.


        On a related point, when the Hamburglar was the greatest goalie in the world, everyone pointed to sample size —- and yet no one cares about sample size when we look at what just. The playoffs were 12 measly games, the Ottawa series 6. We are going to discard good players because of these games?? Perspective is needed.

        If the performance of every player in this series meshed with your prior assessment of that player, you just weren’t watching. Some players overperform and some underperform in a short series.

  • May 11, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Dave, the Rangers’ stingy power play production screamed for Kreider to be planted in front of the Ottawa’s crease on the pp. Is the decision to position him there his, or the coach?

  • May 11, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Almost everything that has been said here is right IMO. The Rangers should have beaten Ottawa. They have far superior talent. BUT Shouldn’t we at least acknowledge the fact that if the teams had swapped goaltenders prior to the series, Craig Anderson would still be going to the ECF. The Rangers did outskate the Senators on balance. Anderson was just too good. Lundqvist may very well be the better goalie – – but he was not the better goalie in this series.

    This is not to excuse the Rangers for not bailing Hank out. But let’s not pretend that he was the team’s strength in THIS series. Hank is temperamental. The goal off his back was devastating to him and he never really recovered. A shame since I really thought Game 1 was one of the best games he had ever played. [And as i said a few days ago, if the Rangers could bail him out, he might just lead them to a Cup.]

    One bright spot was the incident with Stepan barking at Hank. Makes one think that those Rangers with NMCs might be happy to waive them just to get away from #30.

    • May 11, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      In short….NO!

      Hank wasn’t brilliant in this series but other than Game 6 and maybe Game 1, Anderson was terrible. I don’t think any expert watching this series would agree with you at all.

      • May 11, 2017 at 1:50 pm

        The goalie play was a push, really. Which IS a problem when you expect one to be better than the other.

        I’ve said it before, Henrik was good in the Ottawa series, not great, and for a team that leans (too) heavily on its goaltender, it wasn’t enough.

        Problem is, the expectation of him was to repeat what he did against Montreal, which just wasn’t a realistic expectation. He was bound to regress a bit, but the rest of the team didn’t pick up its play.

      • May 11, 2017 at 2:31 pm

        But being good in Games 1 and 6 was enough to be the best goalie. The Rangers would have won games 3 and 4 with Hellberg in net. Lundqvist essentially contributed nothing.

        Experts are irrelevant. This won’t happen of course, but let’s suppose that in camp next year Skapski outplays Lundqvist. No expert will say Skapski is better because it is too absurd to risk their reputation on (even thought it happens to be true). No expert would dare fault Hank.

        Fact is, while Anderson made some miscues, he mostly stood tall. If a goalie is vulnerable, the opposing team will make him pay. Think about this. Did the Rangers look like they knew how to get the puck past him, or did they look like they believed it was really hard?

        • May 11, 2017 at 2:55 pm


          I admire your intelligent approach to analyzing this, but sorry, I’m not biting on this at all.

          This isn’t goalie vs goalie. This is shooter vs goalie. Our “stars” didn’t show up. Their actual star was a beast when it mattered. Their support players exploited our defense and took advantage. If the goalies had been transposed, sorry, we are out in four or five.

  • May 11, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Reason one encapsulates what I find so infuriating about this blog. All year, every year, the big debates are in re who is the 12th forward and who is the 6th defenceman…and AV’s success as a coach is tied to these bottom two players on the roster. The Blueshirts didn’t lose because of whether Holden or Clendening were on the ice, nor Glass/Buchevnech. They lost because the top forwards didn’t produce enough…defensemen could get the puck out of the zone in crunch time (Clendening wouldn’t have fixed this) and the goalie we require to be perfect wasn’t during Games 2 & 5.

    AV is the coach and takes some responsibility. But, let’s flash back to last off-season. What were the expectations for this season. Who had us in the top 8? Did anyone have us in the top 4 (where we’d be had we advanced)? I’m tired of the constant AV bashing…particularly over 12th F/6th D. He’s the best coach we’ve had in a generation.

    • May 11, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      Thank you Bayman…perfectly said and 100% on point.

      To me, Dave buried the lead. The NUMBER ONE reason we lost this series and barely got by Montreal is because Stepan, Kreider, Miller and Hayes were terrible, and Nash was ineffective after seemingly being physically compromised.

      I love this blog, but one thing I’ve learned. There will be massive discussions about those “on the margin” players for sure. But when it comes to critiquing the “Anti-Triplets” (Miller/Hayes/Kreider), generally speaking, we will hear crickets when they’re bad and overwhelming praise during their all too brief stretches of excellence.

      • May 11, 2017 at 2:50 pm


        For the right return, everyone is trade-able, and I would entertain trades for anyone, and everyone!!!!!!!!!!!

        • May 11, 2017 at 3:07 pm

          Hear! Hear! Walt! Couldn’t agree more.

          To me, there are no untouchables. Personally I wouldn’t trade Vesey, Buch or Skjei, and would look to resign Mika. Not that they cant be traded but I’d want to see more of them. All are still works in progress who showed very positive signs–especially Skjei. Hank isn’t going anywhere. Beyond that? I’d be open to ANY deal.

          • May 11, 2017 at 3:19 pm

            see, we can agree!!!!!!!!!!! smile E3 it’s OK

            • May 11, 2017 at 3:50 pm


    • May 11, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Listened to former isle goalie rick diPietro this morning and he blamed this loss on Rick Nash!!!! He said that the 15 highest paid player in the league needs to play like one……He said ovechkin makes 9.5 and nash makes 8.0..
      As far as our coach…..another question to ask is why does derek stepan lead all forwards in minutes played?????? Does he not watch him play??????
      Besides the obvious question…..why were stepan and stall allowed to be on the ice for 13 of 15 goals we gave up before game 6??????
      And why were stall and hol and girardi on ice in last 2 -3 minutes of any game?????
      Coach is a buffoon who must go ASAP!!!!!!!! Inexcusable decisions cost us 3 playoff games!!!!!

      • May 11, 2017 at 4:35 pm

        But still no mention at all of your “Untouchable Stars” that were essentially invisible the whole playoffs. That certainly had nothing to do with the losses.

        You can’t be serious???? You do realize hockey is a team game and there is now way to hide guys. Eventually, weaknesses get exposed. News flash–we have holes on our defense. They were exposed. Film at 11.

        In the final 2-3 minutes of the game, with a weak defense to begin with that possesses no star power, it’s hard to drop down to four defensemen and not deal with massive fatigue issues.

        AV had three different groups of players out for each of the meltdowns. You can question the decisions sure, but in the end, the talent wasn’t there to prevent this.

        As for Nash, I disagree with DiPietro. Nash by all accounts was playing hurt in the Ottawa series. If he was compromised, hard to blame him.

        The primary reason the Rangers aren’t playing are named Kreider (stink), Miller (stank), and Hayes (stunk)…and Stepan too. Time to own up to the reality that your untouchables killed us!

        • May 11, 2017 at 5:42 pm

          3E is apparently a fan of The Grinch!

          The three words that best describe you
          Are as follows, and I quote,
          “Stink, stank, stunk!”

          • May 11, 2017 at 5:49 pm

   of my favorites!

            And if Boris Karloff was still alive and he watched the “Untouchables” play this post-season, I have no doubt that’s what he would have said!

        • May 11, 2017 at 7:35 pm

          I am not disagreeing that kreider, miller hayes played very poorly. Despite their play however….
          AV’s horrible personnel decisions led to 3 playoff losses in the last minute of the games! To be up by 1 or 2 goals in the last minute and put out stall, girardi, holden and stepan your slowest/worst defenders 3 freakin times is inexcusable , stupid coaching , unless of course you are trying to lose!!
          DiPietro, who probably has more hockey knowledge and insight than us called nash ” a great 200 foot player”…..was critical of him for never showing up big [ goals] in the playoffs. I bet he makes more money than kredier, miller and hayes combined.
          Bottom line this series should have been over in 5 if not for the coach!!

      • May 11, 2017 at 5:18 pm

        For all statisticians and diehard Ranger fans, the fact remains that NO Stanley Cup winner in the last 10 years has not had at least 2 top five picks in the draft. Getting elite talent requires multiple years without playoffs. We have 1 top draft choice who no longer is in his prime,Nash. I have mentioned this before, but would we give up 2 years of non playoffs to build a cup team? Top draft choices do matter and so does the right coach. Penguins won with how many coaches? One Crosby! Watch Toronto next.

        • May 11, 2017 at 5:29 pm

          Brilliant….and dead on correct. We want to blame AV for everything but as I said previously, to win a Cup, generally, you need star power. You need a top #1 center. You need an elite defenseman. We have none of those things. Sather and co blew that 2000-2005 when we were a lottery team and REALLY blew it in 2010 when we could have had Tarasenko, Kuzetsov and many others.

          So to be in the mix at all, we’ve had to do it the hard way–by mixing and matching and making trades that mortgage some portion of the future for a chance to hope the dominoes fall right and we somehow pull it off.

          The fact that we have won as many playoff series as we have in recent years without high end talent is frankly remarkable.

          Yes, great coaching matters. But without great talent and a great GM, you could bring in Scotty Bowman and the results wont likely be much different.

  • May 11, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Since AV got an extension, I’m not sure he’s going anywhere.

    But how about the power play. Isn’t it run by Arniel? Maybe a change in assistance coaching would help?

    Than again, swapping Beuk for Ulfie showed no difference, so maybe the head coach overrides them both too much. Even though he claims that he leaves specialty coaching to the specialists.

    And please, for the love of all that’s holly, do not bring back Glass. His contract is over. We all know he’s a great guy, but clearly, his presence in the locker room did not fire anyone up.
    I don’t even think he’s as bad of a player that most think he is. But its like the most blatant act of nepotism (even though they aren’t related), so maybe favoritism? AV looks for any reason, and at all, to insert Glass into the line up. And gets a twinkle in his eye when he’s discussed by the press. Ridiculous.

    Lastly, what do Gordon and Sather see that we don’t? They have nonstop access to games, practices, strategies, etc. What in the world makes them give AV the green light?
    AV himself said that he has regular meetings with Gordon before games, and often times uses his input. Why isn’t the input ever “DON”T PUT GLASS IN THE LINE UP. Use, and develop the kids who are the next core.”???

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