Based on this season should we have expected anything different rather than being down 0-2 in the series? This season has been a dreadful season for the Rangers with very few bright spots along the way. The Rangers have buried themselves in a big hole in their first round match-up with the Washington Capitals. With losing the first two games I still believe the series is far from over, but the Rangers have a tremendous amount of work to do if they want to even think about winning. I also don’t believe the series is out of reach. The Rangers have been incredibly snake-bitten in these first two games. Hitting about 4 to 5 goal posts in the two games combined, not to mention the goal that John Moore scored but could not be conclusive or determined as a goal. The refs haven’t been great but we Ranger fans should be in no position to be talking about the refs considering how bad the power play has been. (I will get to that later on) So nothing has gone right these two games and of course when Mike Green hits the post the puck goes in, of course. So being a voice of reason the series has not gone the Rangers way but it is far from being over in my opinion. But even if the series goes 6 or 7 games the Rangers won’t find themselves coming out on top if they cannot execute certain parts of their game which they have not done so far. Here they are.
1.) Special Teams- I said in my Capitals-Rangers preview “this will determine the series in my opinion”. Well so far I was right and it decided at least one game outcome and maybe even two depending on what would of played out. The Rangers were 0-8 in two games on the power play. That is half the reason why they are not going back to the Garden with the series tied. What was the difference in Game 2? Special teams. That determined the game. The Rangers could not convert on their power play in OT (let alone get a shot on goal while Washington got two shorthanded) and the Capitals converted. The Ranger power play not only has been putrid this season, but for many seasons in the past. Mike Sullivan should seriously be worried about his job considering how poor of a job he has done on the power play. I put the blame fully on the coaching staff and not the players one bit because the coaches are putting those players on the ice. Brad Richards has failed miserably trying to run this power play. So why is he still running it? Why is Taylor Pyatt on the second power play unit? That is all on coaching and Sullivan better figure out something fast or he could be out the door.
2.) Lines- Again, this is on the coaches and Tortorella. It was an absolute mistake to have Richards centering Zuccarello and Nash. Richards has proved he is too slow too play with these guys. It is an even bigger mistake when you have Brassard on a line with Powe. You are wasting Brassard’s talent. The play that drove me nuts today was when Brassard made a great play out in front and put it on the tape of a Ranger forward who shot it right in the pad of Braden Holtby. Guess who that player was? Darroll Powe who has not registered a point this season. If Brassard made that play to Zuccs or Nash they had a much better shot of scoring than Powe had. That mistake was unforgivable. Brassard is a great playmaker and is playing better than Brad Richards at the moment. Therefore it makes sense to put him on a line with a finisher like Nash. Instead the coaches put Brassard on the 3rd line with two grinders and Richards was not able to set up Zuccs or Nash. I do not know what Torts sees in practice but this seemed to be an obvious mistake. If the Rangers want to win the series Nash and Zuccs should be playing with Brassard, not Richards. Oh yea, where was Chris Kreider? Why was he scratched? He played fantastic on Thursday and was incredibly noticeable. Why Tortorella dressed Powe and Pyatt over Kreider I’ll never understand. Especially with the way Kreider played the other night. The lines need to be figured out quick.
3.) Tortorella- The Rangers are built to win NOW and I believe they have there best chance to bring a cup home the years Lundqvist is in his prime. (Which last game was evident of him wasting his prime) Now who knows what will happen but based on how they are structured I believe that they must win now. It is up to the man behind the bench in order to make it happen. If this series ends in the next three games Tortorella’s days may be numbered next year. But that is a long ways away. As to win the series he must make his team become more aggressive, he must muster up more offense that still continues to struggle with Nash in the line-up, he must not favor certain types of players so much, he must figure out this horrible power play, and he must do this now if the Rangers want to win the series. If he cannot do this now the Rangers will lose the series. If he cannot do this in the future, Tortorella will lose his job.