Yep. Last night was a huge loss. I know Torts would like to think fatigue isn’t an issue for his team, but the way the Rangers have played the entire post-season it’s hard to believe it. Every single game of every single series is so tight, and there’s only so many times a squad can scratch and claw their way to series wins. Throughout their 19 playoff games, they’ve pulled off back-to-back W’s exactly once, and only when they had to – when their backs were against the wall facing a 3-2 deficit against the Sens. They’ve played a majority of their minutes either tied or chasing/protecting a mere 1-goal lead. No momentum built, no easy wins.
Going back to their earlier series wins, they had to come back to squeak out a Game 6 victory against Ottawa & needed a borderline miracle to tie up Game 5 against the Caps with 7 seconds left before pulling off a crucial OT win. Let’s not forget the triple overtime classic and both Game 7 2-1 white-knucklers. Even the pair of 3-0 W’s over the Devils were scoreless ties into the final frames. All gutsy and deserved, no doubt, but that’s a tough way to play night in and night out. We score, you score…we win, you win. Just really hard to maintain a physical and mental edge every second of every game knowing a simple bad bounce might be the difference. The proof is in their past 2 losses.
Not only is it the first time the Blueshirts have dropped back-to-backs, but it’s the first time they’ve trailed by more than a goal outside of Jason Spezza’s empty netter in the final minute to wrap up Game 5 of Round 1. Spotting the Devils 3 on the scoreboard isn’t something we’ve seen before. So is New York finished? I sure as shit hope not. If history is any indicator, this is apparently how they get it done. They did so the first 2 rounds. They did so in ’94 against these same Devils. On the flip side, though, it can also signal that they’re due. They’ve possibly thrown their last haymaker in storming back from a 3-goal hole last night only to see it wasted. If that’s the case, I’m not exactly sure how not to view this season a failure regardless of the minimal preseason expectations. I’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
For now, it’s going to take yet another improbable effort to meet with the Kings for rights to Lord Stanley’s Cup…and as tough a task as it seems, the winning formula is actually pretty simple. Whoever scores first wins. Since Game 7 against Ottawa, the Rangers have won every time they’ve lit the lamp first – and in 6 of those 7 they’ve never trailed the rest of the way. When they haven’t scored first…yep. 0-6 in that same span. So NY & NJ fans alike can plan their Memorial Day Fridays accordingly.