Stock Up, Stock Down for New York Rangers Stars in 2014 NHL Playoffs
It’s been nothing but ugly for the New York Rangers in these 2014 NHL Playoffs, and does that actually come as a surprise to anybody?
Didn’t think so.
After struggling to beat the Philadelphia Flyers—who they should have brushed off in five games—the Rangers have been shockingly ineffective and overall relatively pathetic in their second-round matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It doesn’t come as a shock, either, when you look at it; the Rangers’ stars are not performing. When the big guns don’t fire, you’ve really got no shot in this league.
And today, because I know everyone in Blueshirt Nation is feeling real great about this team, we’ll rate the current state of the Rangers’ biggest stars.
Spoiler alert: it’s not good.
Stock down. Way, way down.
Marian Gaborik took a lot of heat for his performances in the two postseasons he played for the Rangers in 2010-11 and 2011-12, scoring just six goals in 25 games, but his numbers—and outings—made him look like Wayne Gretzky himself when compared to those of Rick Nash.
Nash was brought in to do one thing: score goals. And although he’s had some success doing so during regular-season play, he’s only managed one goal in 23 playoff games with New York. On top of that, he’s played terribly; there has been literally nothing worth commending him on during both playoff campaigns as a Ranger.
What does this say about Nash? He comes up short when there’s actually something on the line. Who needs a goal-scorer who doesn't show up when the team needs a goal? Not the Rangers.
We could argue about what it is that is keeping Nash from breaking through, but the fact is he falls short in preparation and is clearly not focused or willing to change his game to adapt to the playoff climate. He’s no longer a player to get excited about, because hockey is about one thing and one thing only: winning the Stanley Cup.
And this, or any other, team is not going to win it with Mr. Softie playing the way he has been.
Save for a few periods in these playoffs, Henrik Lundqvist has proven the doubters wrong yet again.
Somehow considered a playoff choker (what?), Lundqvist has continued to carry the Rangers in the postseason. Prime examples being Games 2 and 3, in which Lundqvist allowed a total of just four goals despite his side’s offense combining for a not-so-shocking zero tallies.
This is what Lundqvist has been putting up with since he arrived in New York, yet for some reason, the fact that the Rangers have yet to be crowned champions is because Lundqvist is a playoff choker. Despite the fact that his playoff numbers mirror his regular-season numbers and during the regular season he’s perennially one of the best goalies in the league.
Knowing how professional Hank is, I’m sure this phantom theory means nothing to him, and it’s clearly not affecting his game, as he came up huge against Philadelphia in Round 1 and has been nearly as good in Round 2 thus far.
Martin St. Louis
It’s no secret Martin St. Louis has struggled since joining the Rangers at the trade deadline, but it appeared as if he sorted out his troubles early in Round 1, scoring five points in the series’ first three games.
But since then, St. Louis has taken several steps backward.
He, like Nash, has become a non-factor on a team that relies on his offensive production. This is a player who led the NHL in points just a year ago, and now he can’t even handle the puck in the neutral zone.
How does that happen?
Marty used to be one of the league’s most menacing players on the rush, now he just floats around the outside and refuses to lend any contribution to the team’s goal-scoring efforts.
The Rangers traded their captain Ryan Callahan for St. Louis—the superstar St. Louis. Not the suddenly-showing-his-age St. Louis.
Through the 38-year-old’s regular-season struggles with the Rangers, fans took comfort in the fact that St. Louis has a reputation of a playoff beast, and the hopes were that he’d turn it around once the postseason began.
But he’s been nothing but a shadow of himself, just like every other star that arrives on Broadway.
After an absolutely stellar regular season, Ryan McDonagh has struggled as much as anyone throughout the playoffs.
His positioning is off, he has no confidence with the puck and he’s become a turnover machine—all uncharacteristic of the St. Paul, MN, native.
We could attribute his struggles to his late-season injury that caused him to miss the last handful of regular-season games, but how can a busted shoulder alter McDonagh’s game this much? He was considered 100 percent prior to the playoffs, why is it that a potentially lingering injury has completely debilitated his overall game?
It honestly doesn’t matter to me, because McDonagh has been downright terrible. Even if he’s not at full strength, it would be nice to see some heart or emotion on the ice. This is a player who is now looked upon as a leader and a potential captain next season; bite the bullet and play like you actually want to win.
I think with McDonagh it’s just really disappointing. We all probably knew Nash was going to blow it again, and after St. Louis’ struggles it doesn’t come as a surprise. But McDonagh was this team’s horse and its heart and soul. And now even he’s taken a step backward.
Very disappointing indeed.