Stars failed to show up
After scoring 10 goals in the first two games, the New York Rangers offense decided that it wanted to go on vacation quickly. After game one, the Rangers scored 7 goals, and 5 of those came in Game Six to survive and force game 7. It just was not good enough. Of the 17 goals in this series, Chris Kreider had 6 of them. For a team that added two major wingers at the deadline to only have 11 goals from forwards not named Kreider is unacceptable.
Getting shut out twice in a playoff series is just not okay. For the New York Rangers to not once but twice fail to score on a netminder who 30 months ago was not playing professional hockey is just not okay. That would be unacceptable for any forward core that wields Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Vincent Trocheck, Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere, and Kaapo Kakko is just not okay, but that isn’t the worst part.
This was a Rangers forward core on steroids. Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko were brought in to be major parts of this roster and neither of them were major factors in this series. Tarasenko had three goals, and Kane was a ghost of his former self. He forced his way to New York and showed himself to be a liability toward the end of this series with costly turnovers.
Speaking of players turning into ghosts when the Rangers need them, Artemi Panarin man. He had 2 assists in this series. They both came in game 1. That is the best player on this roster by a country mile. He’s one of the best passers of his generation, he’s got a lethal shot, and he had just 2 assists. He’s got a debilitating cap hit because he is good and the Rangers star just turned did not show up.
Home ice issues
New York won just one game on home ice. Game 6 to stave off elimination. To go 1-2 in front of the best fanbase in this sport is unforgivable. Madison Square Garden is supposed to be a fortress. Teams come into this storied building in awe of the history, the players that have spent time on this surface, and thinking about the past. It’s supposed to be an intimidating building, and the Rangers just did not play like it.
New Jersey had the 2nd best road record in hockey, I get that. Only Boston was stronger away from home and they were the best regular season team ever in terms of wins and points. However, the Bruins lost at home to the Florida Panthers in Game 7 so do not try and tell me regular season stats mean a thing in the postseason because that is not true. New York struggled at home.
When New York beat a team that employed a similar approach to the game to the New Jersey Devils last year in the Carolina Hurricanes, they did so by holding home ice. They won all three games at the Garden and were able to steal game 7 at PNC Arena to move on. They won the first two games of this series at the Prudential Center. They needed to win 2 games at home and they’d move on.
Madison Square Garden needed to be a bunker for this year’s Blueshirts and they were just unable to hold home ice. They knew that when they played their first game back at the Garden, just two wins would see them through to the second round and they were unable to do it. It was not a good enough performance from Gerard Gallant’s men. This team in general was not good enough.