Who's to Blame for New York Rangers' 2nd-Round Loss to Boston Bruins?
New York went down in five games, and although three of those losses were close, the Bruins made a lot of big plays at key moments.
If not for the remarkable play of Henrik Lundqvist in the third, fourth and fifth games, several of the matchups would have likely ended in blowout fashion.
Lundqvist was not at his best in the second game, but you will not find his name on this list of those responsible for New York's defeat.
Remember, the Rangers started the season as one of the NHL's favorites after trading for Rick Nash in the offseason, but they never played in that manner in the regular season or playoffs.
This is the second straight year that the Rangers were taken apart in their decisive playoff series and there are serious questions about this team's future.
Brad Richards is the New York Rangers' $60 million man. He is the second-highest paid player on the team behind Rick Nash.
When the Rangers added Richards through free agency prior to the 2011-12 season by signing him to a nine-year deal, the Rangers expected him to become their best player and their leader.
Richards didn't give the Rangers enough last year when they lost in the conference finals to the New Jersey Devils. However, it was a dream sequence for Richards compared to his play in this year's postseason.
Richards scored one goal and did not have any assists in 10 games in the playoffs. As a result, head coach John Tortorella benched him prior to Game 4 against the Boston Bruins.
Richards has seven years remaining on his contract with the Rangers. There is some thought that they will use a compliance buyout—expressed by Newsday columnist Arthur Staple—so they can get out from under the deal.
When the Rangers completed a trade for Rick Nash with the Columbus Blue Jackets last summer, general manager Glen Sather and head coach John Tortorella thought that the big winger would give them the consistent front-line scoring they were missing in 2011-12.
Nash has size, strength, speed and a vicious wrist shot. He had a slow start to the regular season, but he ended up leading the team in goals with 21 and he also added 21 assists.
Even though his production was fairly good, Nash did not display much of a power game. He stayed on the outside and rarely ventured into the dirty areas of the ice. He did not seem willing to take an elbow or a big hit if it meant he would have a scoring opportunity.
If there was something missing about his game in the regular season, it was even more evident in the postseason. He scored just one goal and had four assists in 12 games.
His unwillingness to engage against the Washington Capitals or the Bruins was a big problem for the Rangers. Until he asserts himself physically with his 6'4", 213-pound frame, he's going to have a hard time fulfilling expectations.
In the end, John Tortorella proved to be a willing analyst after his team lost its conference semifinal series to the Boston Bruins in five games. He admitted the Bruins were the better team and described them as "stiffer" than his Rangers.
#NYR Tortorella: "They deserved to win the series. They were the better team."— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) May 26, 2013
Torts: "We struggled to get our personality. Brassard deal helped us. We're not stiff enough. Got better last 2 games." Likes #Dorsett ahead— Stan Fischler (@StanFischler) May 26, 2013
But Tortorella is not paid to be an analyst. He is paid to be the Rangers head coach.
They were arguably a better team than the New Jersey Devils were last year and they may have been the equal of the Bruins this year.
However, they did not play like it.
That's on the head coach. He is supposed to bring out the best effort in his players, but he hasn't been able to do that.
Does that mean he should lose his job? Only if the Rangers management believes that a better coach is available.
Derek Stepan was the Rangers' best offensive player during the regular season. He led the team with 46 points and was regularly involved in the equation when the Rangers needed important goals.
Stepan scored a huge goal in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins when he stole the puck from defenseman Zdeno Chara and slid it into Tuukka Rask's unguarded net.
That goal allowed the Rangers to tie the score at 2-2 in the third period. It was the kind of play that is delivered by outstanding competitors.
The problem for Stepan was that he did not deliver enough of them. He tied for fourth on the team in postseason scoring. He had four goals and one assist, and the Rangers needed more from him.
Stepan had two goals in the series against the Bruins, and that was not enough to help the Rangers compete on an even footing.
If the New York Rangers were going to find a way to beat the Boston Bruins, they would have had to outwork and outhustle them. They were not going to defeat Boston based on talent.
They did not have a player with the all-around game of Patrice Bergeron. They lacked a locomotive of a left winger who could steamroll opponents and take scoring opportunities like Milan Lucic. They don't have a dominant defenseman like Zdeno Chara who is backed up by a group of equally tough and smart blueliners.
Why is that? Because the man in charge of procuring talent has not done his job.
General manager Glen Sather has proven he can spend money when it comes to signing a free agent like Brad Richards or trading for Rick Nash, but those players were not good enough to compete with the Bruins' best.
That means Sather has not built a championship team. That's his job and he has not done it.
Derek Dorsett is the kind of heart-on-his-sleeve player who leaves it all on the ice every night.
He engaged in two fights for the New York Rangers in their series with the Boston Bruins, including a heavyweight match with Shawn Thornton in Game 5 in Boston.
However, Dorsett may be too reckless for his team's own good. He took penalties late in the second period and early in the third that left the Rangers shorthanded when they were trying to overcome a one-goal deficit.
The Rangers did not give up a goal in either short-handed situation, but instead of being able to attack and go for the tying goal, they were forced to defend.
After the penalty call in the final period, Dorsett threw a small fit on the ice and could have been whistled for two additional minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
He needs to maintain the edge he plays with, but he cannot make undisciplined plays when his team needs to play its best.
Michael Del Zotto
The Boston Bruins got scoring from their defense; the New York Rangers did not.
While Torey Krug scored four goals against world-class goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Michael Del Zotto did not score any goals for the Rangers.
Del Zotto can carry the puck, skate well and he has a booming shot. When the Bruins are getting production from their back line, the Rangers needed it as well. They simply did not get it.
It may not be fair to put it on Del Zotto's shoulders, but he scored 41 points in the 2011-12 regular season and 10 points in last year's postseason.
He put up 21 points during the regular season this year and just two points in the playoffs.
He needed to step up his game and match what Krug did for the Bruins.