NYR-OTT Game 6 Period By Period
This one started about as bad as it could, with one team came to play and one team did not. This period was one where the Rangers skaters pretty much did everything wrong. They were shooting when they shouldn’t have and were passing up shots they should have taken. The Blueshirts played uninspired while the opposition played with passion, skill, and smarts. The Rangers team we saw in games three and four is a distant memory. The Senators have players open in their offensive zone, it seems, all period. Erik Karlsson takes a wide open shot from the point, and a just as wide open Mike Hoffman deflects it 6 feet from Henrik Lundqvist’s right to his left, to grab an early 1-0 lead at 4:27. Ottawa takes a quick penalty, giving New York a chance to get back in the game. But the power play is atrocious, losing faceoffs cleanly, and passing the puck like it was a grenade. But lady luck smiles, or at least grins slightly, on the Rangers as old friend Derrick Brassard high sticks his old friend, Mats Zuccarello, getting a 4-minute penalty. With a golden opportunity to make the Senators pay for another big mistake, the Rangers come up very small. Again, Ottawa is way more focused on winning faceoffs and doing the little things. They block shots and get in the passing lanes, as the Rangers panic. After the double kill, the Rangers are 2 for 23 on the power play in the series, which really says it all. After the power play, the Rangers get caught way too deep in the offensive zone, and give up a 3 on 2, that Mark Stone finishes making it 2-0. Again, no sign of J.T. Miller or Chris Kreider, and Kevin Hayes is still on the perimeter passing. The Rangers did have more shots, 13-10, but Ottawa had glorious chances. Lundqvist made several huge saves, and this team ends the period needing a spark, and need one badly.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) May 9, 2017
Unfortunately, it was more of the same for the Rangers in the middle frame. Panicked passes by the home team, make them look very disorganized. They throw the puck around their zone, unwilling to shoot. Their only attempt at offense seems to be only on the rush. And, since they aren’t passing well, they often shoot themselves in the foot. When they do complete a few passes, the Senators are bunched in the middle, keeping the action on the perimeter. Ottawa is doing well in draining time off the clock without getting hemmed in their own zone (sound familiar?). In a do or die game, one would think New York would be mounting big time pressure, but that’s not the case. Very few quality chances come their way. Suddenly, Zuccarello threads the needle and finds Mika Zibanejad splitting the Ottawa defense. Mika, one of the few productive Rangers forwards, fires a laser over Craig Anderson’s shoulder to cut the lead to 2-1. The Blueshirts follow up by pressing hard, but unable to break through. By throwing caution to the wind, they give up an odd-man break the other way. Kreider is with Karlsson all the way back until he releases from him to chase Bobby Ryan, who is headed behind the net. Of course leaving the Ottawa defenseman alone is a really bad idea, as Ryan feeds him for a point blank shot. Karlsson shoots it under the crossbar and over Lundqvist’s shoulder, restoring the Senators 2 goal lead.
— NBCSN (@NBCSN) May 10, 2017
Chris Kreider, finally, decided he wants to go into beast mode. He takes a head-man pass and navigates and powers in alone on Anderson, and beats him with a wrister over the right pad. The goal came 53 seconds into the period, leaving plenty of time to potentially tie the game. Kreider got another golden opportunity but wasn’t able to convert. The Rangers got another man advantage minutes later. They actually got some zone time and chances, but no goal. The Blueshirts power play finished the series at an abysmal 2 for 24. You can change the coaches. You can change the players. But, year in, year out, their power play is never good. In too many playoff seasons, that particular failure has been reason number one for too many early postseason ousters. In the closing minutes, the big difference between the teams was brightly illustrated. In blowing late leads in games two and five, the Rangers allowed themselves to be hemmed in their zone and blew coverages in front of their own net. In this game, Ottawa did a great job keeping shots to a minimum and getting pucks out of the zone to break momentum. Exactly, what the Rangers should have done, and didn’t do in blowing 3 postseason games.
There are a lot of “scapegoating” fans that point to one player or the coach to make an example out of and sent on their way. Their loss was a team effort. There were many lapses on defense, with Staal and Holden leading the way. Too many forwards did not score anywhere near their regular season totals. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist had a spectacular series against Montreal. He wasn’t as brilliant against Ottawa, but in games 2 and 5, the late blown leads were a result of horrific blown coverage assignments right in front of the net. Coach Alain Vigneault made mistakes specifically in the deployment of struggling defensive pairs at the wrong times or against the wrong matchups. There will be plenty of change this summer. Whenever there is an expansion draft, player movement has been plentiful, and this year will be no different. Most thought last year the Rangers would gut their roster. I think this year is the year we see that to some extent. Dan Girardi can be traded to 15 teams, and Kevin Klein has just one more year left on his deal. With Las Vegas entering the league, 7 more defensemen jobs will open up in a league short of that commodity. Moving the “unmovable contracts” may now be possible. It will be an interesting summer.