With their no-show in Game 7, the New York Rangers are out of the playoffs. It was their year. They had a great team on paper. They rolled through the first two games in Newark. Then, they no-showed and lost four of the next five. The series with the Devils was expected to be close, and since it went 7 games, it felt close. But let’s be real, the Rangers didn’t show up, and it’s not that they lost, it’s how the Rangers lost that really leaves us wondering what happened.
How the Rangers lost
It’s easy to say something catchy like #YesQuitInNY (shameless self promo) and have that sum up how the Rangers lost. The Rangers quit on themselves and on the fans, and it was evident in Games 5 and 7 where legs weren’t moving, they weren’t aggressive, and they were playing scared, conservative hockey.
But in reality, it’s much more than that. We said at the start of the playoffs that if this team fizzles out early, which they did, we’d be blaming the stars. Well here we are, and we can look no further than Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin. A combined one goal between this duo, only two players (Chris Kreider, Vladimir Tarasenko) with more than one goal, and you have how the Rangers lost.
5 goals combined in a 7-game series between Zibanejad, Kane, Chytil, Trocheck, Kakko, Fox, Panarin and Lafrenière. Yikes. #NYR
— Jason Gold (@JayGold85) May 2, 2023
Patrick Kane had that one game where he took over, and while he wasn’t the root cause of the issues, he was certainly a reason why the Rangers didn’t win. Vincent Trocheck scored just once. Alexis Lafreniere had zero points, despite both Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil looking fine in the series. Adam Fox had eight assists, but six game in the first two games.
The stars failed the Rangers. And it’s the stars that were in New York before the deadline, not after. The core of the team failed, quit, and gave up. This is how the Rangers lost.
So who isn’t to blame?
Igor Shesterkin is the only reason why this series went seven games. He’s also the only reason why Game 7 wasn’t 48-0. He had a monumental series, and is one of the only Rangers to truly show up for all 7 games.
Kaapo Kakko looked good in the series as well. The points weren’t there, but he was visibly getting to corners, winning puck battles, and creating off the cycle. He and Chris Kreider appeared to be the only Rangers that were winning battles consistently along the boards.
Depth guys Tyler Motte, Barclay Goodrow, and Niko Mikkola also looked fine. They weren’t catching our attention regularly, but were steady and doing their jobs. These guys only caught our attention because they were the only ones who looked engaged for all 7 games. The depth guys were not an input into how the Rangers lost.
So what’s next?
Given how the Rangers lost, an effort and motivation question, you have to assume Gerard Gallant is on the hot seat. There is a clear disconnect between him and Chris Drury on roster construction, and it showed on zone exits and blue line construction. We will dive deeper into this in the offseason.
There are questions about Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller, due new contracts, and how they will fit under the cap. Goodrow was the prime candidate to be moved to fit them, and likely still is. However you can’t discount how frustrated Drury was with Artemi Panarin last playoffs. Now a direct input into how the Rangers lost this year, it makes you wonder what Panarin’s future is.
It’s unlikely since Panarin has a full no-move clause, but it’s still possible. Drury wants a 16 win team, not a regular season team. Panarin has one big postseason goal and that’s it. Again unlikely, but expect these rumors to pop up. For better or for worse, most of the roster that no-showed these playoffs will be back next season.
It’s going to be a long offseason, and perhaps a painful offseason. I again want to thank everyone who reads this site regularly. December will mark 15 years of this site, and it wouldn’t have lasted this long without all of you. Stay tuned for more offseason content.