Give credit to this team. They came out and played their hearts out in a game they basically had to win. For a team that spent virtually the whole season surviving on effort and energy, they brought more of those two things today than probably any other game this season. Even when they let in goals twice, early in the game and then in the last minute of the first period, the Rangers did what they’ve done all season and persevered through it. Now we have to sit back and root hard for Tampa Bay. I can think of many teams who would be a worse candidate to win it for us. Let’s look at what hopefully won’t be the final post-game notes of the season:
Chris Drury- After a whole season which was nothing more than a disappointment for Drury, he comes back and scores a huge goal not too long after the Devils took an early lead. Would you expect anything else? Aside from that, he was solid on the forecheck and won 4 of 6 faceoffs. Though this wasn’t Drury’s first game of the season technically, it was his first game as far as I’m concerned. His other stint he clearly was playing injured. Today, Drury was playing like the Drury of old; the wheels were there. We can talk forever about how overpaid Drury is. That doesn’t change the fact that he would sacrifice a limb to get this team a Stanley Cup, and that he can contribute to this team.
Henrik Lundqvist- Another solid game for him and a good way to end the year. 24 saves on 26 shots, including some key ones. That blocker save in where the puck changed direction radically on a deflection early in the second period was particularly a great save. It would be a real shame if Lundqvist isn’t nominated for the Vezina Trophy. This was far and away the best season of his career.
Ryan McDonagh- He picked a hell of a time and place to get his first NHL goal. The goal put the Rangers up 3-2 and truly shifted the game in the Rangers favor. I think there was a sense that if the Rangers could take the lead they never would relinquish it. Even if it ends up being for nothing, it’s nice that he got his first NHL goal out of the way this season, and it’s good to see that he can perform like that in a pressure situation.
There’s really not much else to say. The Rangers played a great game today, and it felt like everyone on the bench did something to help get the win for the Rangers. It’s just unfortunate that it might not be good enough.
So now it comes down to a game between the Lightning and the Hurricanes in Carolina. A loss of ANY KIND by the Hurricanes puts the Rangers in the playoffs. Ryan Malone is banged up and thus won’t be playing for Tampa Bay, and backup Mike Smith will be in goal instead of Dwayne Roloson. Game time is 7:00 and will be available on NHL Center Ice for free. Let’s hope Tampa Bay wins, because this Rangers team worked hard and overcame a lot. They deserve to make the playoffs.