“No doubt we played well over the last 10 games and gave ourselves a chance, but it should never have come to this. With the way we started the year—with the start and the finish—what really hurt us was everything in between.” – Brandon Dubinsky
That quote pretty much sums up the Rangers’ season. The last 10 games were exciting and it was fun to root for a blue-collar-like team, and the fast start gave fans hope (as false as it was), but it was those pesky 64 games crammed in the middle that was the real reason for the Rangers’ season ending in disappointment. Where was the passion, the solid fundamentals and the consistency we saw the last 10 games the rest of the season? Nowhere to be found, that’s where. We can whine about the season ending in a shootout (and with Erik Christensen, P.A. Parenteau and Olli Jokinen – three guys who weren’t on the team for most of the year – having the team’s fate in their hands, no less), but the Flyers completely outplayed the Rangers yesterday, with only Henrik Lundqvist saving them from a blowout.
So the Rangers miss the playoffs for the first time in five years, and they certainly didn’t look like a playoff team this year, not even in the watered down Eastern Conference. John Tortorella did nothing to get his team to play at a consistent level of competency at all this year. Their biggest success came when his hands were tied and he had to use the same players game in and game out the last few weeks, and the team was forced to keep things simple because the lineup was filled with grinders and fighters. It took a big slide by Philadelphia and over-their-head play from guys like Jody Shelley and Brandon Prust to even get this close.
Lundqvist was obviously the team’s MVP, Marian Gaborik posted a career high in points (but could disappear at times here and there), Vinny Prospal was a pleasant surprise, Ryan Callahan did what he does, Michael Del Zotto played a full NHL season at 19 years of age, but not much else was positive about the team this year. The effort came and went, the hitting came and went, the forecheck came and went, the offense came and went (mainly went), the leadership came and went and now the season came and went.
The heroic Lundqvist tried to save his team one last time, but he ran out of gas in the shootout, and the ghost of Kate Smith had the last laugh. Oh well, there’s always next year. I would just feel a lot better if Glen Sather weren’t around to see it, though.