Authors note: Since this may be the last time some of you are on this site until October, I would like to thank all of you amazing readers for an incredible first season at BLS and hope you have a great Summer.
The feedback I received from you in the comments section made me a better writer and helped create ideas for more fan engagement within my work. My goal(No pun intended) each time I published an article was to display my passionate opinions and observations about my favorite hockey team while also providing insight for fans of the site and I hope I did that.
Most importantly, stick taps to Site expert Conor Power and my fellow contributors, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the content coming throughout the season. Aside from the Hartford articles, I’m going to take a few weeks away from this site. However, stay tuned for my off-season content as we discuss how the Rangers front office responds to an unexpected early exit from the postseason.
It was the final seconds of the New York Rangers season, to the delight of the red-clad Prudential Center relishing the New Jersey Devils’ 4-0 Game Seven victory on Monday. While it was a fun experience being at the Rock to experience the atmosphere for yours truly, who sat in Section 6, row 19, he didn’t get the result he wanted.
In disbelief of how the team, supposed to be lauded as New York City heroes, turned to zeroes, he looked towards the Rangers’ net. He saw a dejected Igor Shesterkin, who had done everything he could to make this a series because this should’ve been over a while ago.
The Devils flattened the Rangers from top to bottom. They outsmarted, outskated, and outworked their rivals up and down the ice. If it wasn’t for the poor play of New Jersey goaltender Vitek Vanecek, who yielded nine goals in the first two games before being yanked, Shesterkin’s brilliance, and New York’s previously burgeoning power play, the Devils arguably could’ve done this in five games instead of seven.
“It’s bragging rights for a year.” Jack Hughes said. “We didn’t want to hear about how we lost to them for a year. That’s huge for us and our fan base; it is probably exciting for them. We love that we could win that series for them.”
Offensively, their bottom six was better than some of New York’s top six in the series.
Defensively, the aggressive 1-2-2 forecheck they implemented after going down 2-0 in the series limited a Rangers attack that scored ten goals in the first two games to seven in the last five. Between the pipes, rookie goaltender Akira Schmid matched Shesterkin save for save en route to a 31-save shutout, his second in three games.
New York’s collection of marquee stars and top talent played like a team who expected to win, while undersized New Jersey did everything to win. They’re the team that deserves to advance to the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes, while the Rangers deserve to go golfing.
Talent doesn’t mean a thing,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “It’s great to have talent, but you’ve got to play together and work together. Obviously, in the four games that we lost, we had two goals. That’s the bottom line. You’re not going to win if you get two goals in four games.” “I love to have talent, but you love to have work ethic and more forecheck and stuff like that. We just didn’t get it done.”
Mind you, this is the same organization that vanquished the Blueshirts in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals before becoming a perennial lottery team for nine of the next ten years.
Then, they unexpectedly had a franchise-setting season and qualified for the playoffs before taking out their rivals yet again. They squashed dreams of the Rangers getting their hands on the 2023 silver chalice and breaking the 29-year cup drought.
Fans believed the title would be theirs after the front office bolstered a team that reached the final four last season with Vincent Trocheck, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Patrick Kane. Instead, it was a humbling and stunning first-round exit at the hands of their Hudson River Rivals, setting up what will be a bummer of a Summer.