Quick Hits – Rangers vs Senators Game 6 5/9/17
Here is my recap of the Rangers season-ending loss to the Senators.
Mika Zibanejad – One of the lone bright spots on this night was the play of the former Senator, who picked up two points, including the Rangers first goal of the game. With the Blueshirts down two in the second period, Zibanejad took a beautiful pass from Mats Zuccarello in the neutral zone. Zbad broke through the defense and beat Anderson up over the glove.
Chris Kreider – While Kreider did score in this one, it was a crucial mistake on his part that led to Ottawa’s third goal of the game. Like Zibanejad, Kreider’s goal came on a broken play through center ice, where Kreider picked up the puck and beat Anderson on a breakaway. The goal cut the Rangers deficit to one, but if not for Kreider’s blunder, it may have tied the game. With Bobby Ryan coming down the wing, Kreider was engaged with the trailing man, Erik Karlsson. Kreider then lets Karlsson go, and Ryan dropped the puck back for Karlsson, who beat Lundqvist on the short side. Kreider did have multiple chances late, but couldn’t cash in with the Rangers hunting for the tying goal.
Defense – The Rangers defense had a so-so game as a whole, but were caught making mistakes that they haven’t made since October and November. After Mike Hoffman sends the puck to the half-wall from behind the net, he goes to the front of the net unmarked and deflects a point shot by Henrik. There was nobody within ten feet of Hoffman, with Staal, Holden, and Zuccarello all caught puck watching. The second goal of the game came on a 2v1, with Mark Stone putting the puck by Lundqvist on the short side. Brendan Smith, who did the right thing taking away the pass, gave Stone way too much room to shoot the puck. Henrik should have made the save, but Stone was able to stop, read the newspaper, make some food, take a dump and still get a shot on net. The defense was the Rangers biggest deficiency all season, and unfortunately, it reared its ugly head at the worst possible time.
Henrik Lundqvist – In a game the Rangers needed to win to extend their season, King Henrik gave a solid effort. He will probably tell you he should’ve had the Stone goal, but that’s the only one I could seriously pin on the goaltender. Defensive miscues, slow or physically weak forecheck, and a more aggressive Ottawa team all led to the Senators offensive chances in the first 40 minutes. Henrik made 22 stops on 25 shots against and made a couple of key saves early, including this amazing stop on Erik Karlsson, to keep his team in the game. There are very few players in the NHL who deserve to win a cup more than Henrik Lundqvist. He has done everything in his power to get his team to the promised land, but it just has not happened yet. Hopefully, we will see Hank win a Stanley Cup before he hangs up the skates for good.
Special Teams – One key factor in this one was the Rangers inability to convert on the powerplay. The Blueshirts went 0/4 in this one, including a double-minor in the first period. The man advantage was not just unable to score, but it looked inept at times. The Senators did a good job making it difficult on the Rangers, but the Blueshirts should have been able to do something with the extra man.
Effort and Energy – In a game that they had to have, the Rangers came out flatter than a pancake. They were chasing the Senators around the ice from the drop of the puck, and never really got into the game. And after another blown game in game five, you would have assumed the Rangers would come out firing, looking for the kill. But it was the Senators who came out with the passion and desire to end the Rangers season and not the other way around. The Senators got out to an early 2-0 lead and were able to keep the Rangers at bay for the rest of the game.