This is what it came down to for the New York Rangers?
Two weeks of scraping their way back into the playoff race, raising the hopes of their fans, and when the New York Rangers were in a shootout with their season on the line, they trotted out P. A. Parenteau, Olli Jokinen and Eric Christensen?
Now, before people accuse me of being ignorant, I'm fully aware that all three of those guys are very good at shootouts and Marian Gaborik isn't. I've seen the numbers, and I'm aware of the differences.
I'm aware Parenteau scored in the shootout, so don't take the title of this piece literally.
Imagine Gaborik gets a breakaway with 45 seconds to go in the game. Is your first thought "Man, if only this were Eric Christensen?"
If we're talking about blind allegiance to the numbers, why didn't the Rangers re-sign Steve Valiquette for the game?
Valiquette against Philadelphia: 4-1-1 1.76 GAA, .929 save percentage
Lundqvist against Philadelphia (entering today): 13-6-1 2.77 GAA, .900 save percentage
There you go! Rock-solid proof! Steve Valiquette should have started against Philadelphia. The numbers are far and away better. So why didn't the Rangers play him?
Because they, like all intelligent people who follow hockey are aware of one thing: Henrik Lundqvist is the better goaltender! If that's the logic we use to determine who starts in goal, why does it fly out the window at the most important spot in the season?
Marian Gaborik is the Rangers' best player, and at some point, that has to trump his record in shootouts heading into this game. If a guy's getting paid $6.5 million, has scored 261 goals in 577 games and is going to wind up in the Hall of Fame, he needs to take the most important shot of the season. Not two grunt-work guys and a guy who was signed simply because his contract is up after this season.
This was a classic case of missing the forest for the trees. Instead of being obsessed about shootout statistics, the Rangers should have stuck with their best players.
Would it have made a difference? Probably not. Even if the Rangers had won that game, they didn't have much of a shot against a team like the Washington Capitals in the playoffs.
It's just a shame we'll never know.