Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News,
Suddenly, the traditionally blue-collar Rangers weren’t always the hardest working team on the ice, like Bryan Rust’s muscling of Derick Brassard on Matt Cullen’s goal in Saturday’s runaway second period.
They weren’t defensively committed or equipped enough to nip opponents’ momentum in the bud, like the trifecta of mistakes committed by Kevin Klein, Keith Yandle and Derek Stepan prior to Carl Hagelin’s game-tying goal in this season-ending defeat.
They weren’t cohesive enough to protect leads, thanks also to a 28th-ranked penalty kill, where Jesper Fast and Lundqvist were outclassed by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel on a back-breaking game-tying goal before Pittsburgh’s second-period storm.
Most alarmingly, a group filled with mentally tough pros couldn’t escape a worrisome quality of fragility. When games went badly this season, they went off the deep end, just as Games 4 and 5 of this first-round series went for the Blueshirts, who were outscored in the series 21-10.
Game highlights are below...
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
There can be no illusions under the debris of this series in which the Blueshirts were outscored 21-10, and 11-4 over the final two games, both of which Henrik Lundqvist finished on the bench after being pulled, and in both of which the abysmal defensive zone play that pockmarked the season from beginning to end surfaced time and time again.
“We made it hard on ourselves all series,” said Rick Nash, whose two goals tied Derek Stepan for the club lead. “So many turnovers … we struggled with our defensive game throughout the season.
“That hadn’t been the case at all in my first three years here.”
The time is gone for this core of Rangers, perhaps finally exhausted by the toll of playing 44 postseason games the past two years and 76 over the previous four springs. The time is gone without a championship for this band, just as it was gone for those old Knicks, and just as it was gone a generation or two ago for those fondly remembered Emile Francis teams that featured Eddie Giacomin, Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle and Brad Park and the gang.
The Blueshirts never quite had it this year; never were as imposing as in either of Alain Vigneault’s first two seasons behind the bench. As this series devolved into a fiasco, the Rangers grew old overnight and became slow, quickly.
"In the 2nd pd, it was a feeling of embarrassment to give up that many goals. But also a sense of hopelessness..."
"...I think we played a team that was smarter, better, and better goaltending."
Lundqvist gave up four goals on 12 shots in the 2nd period.
The Pittsburgh Penguins move on to round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and will face the winner of the Washington/Philadelphia series.
Henrik Lundqvist was pulled for the 2nd straight game after giving up 6 goals on 23 shots.
The Penguins were the better team today and for most of the series.
The Rangers now have many unanswered questions.
added 6:37pm, from Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post,
The moment came earlier in the game than normal, and the end came earlier in the spring than normal.
But there it was, Henrik Lundqvist with his face to the ice, sprawled out as the opposition celebrated all around him, and the Rangers’ season came a screeching halt.
It was 5:21 into the second period, and Bryan Rust had just scored the first of four unanswered goals for the Penguins. Lundqvist lay there, a beaten man and the example of a severely beaten team. It was ugly, it was hard to watch, and it was the end of the 2015-16 Rangers.
Lundqvist wouldn’t come out to play the third period, wearing a hat on the bench as he watched the rest of his team’s 6-3 loss to the Penguins in Game 5 of its first-round series Saturday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Center.
from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
Alex Ovechkin didn’t mince words Friday.
“It’s all about us right now,” the Washington Capitals captain said after his team had a brisk, all-business morning skate at the Kettler Iceplex.
“We control our destiny. We have to play hard, play simple and play smart. We have to dictate how we play, not them.”
Them, of course, is the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers nudged the door open in the Eastern Conference first-round series when they won Game 4 to avoid being eliminated. The Capitals would rather treat the Flyers like unwanted guests in Game 5 Friday night at the Verizon Center and send them on their way.
A victory and the Caps would win the best-of-seven in five games and get some down time before playing the Pittbsburgh Penguins or the New York Rangers in the second round; a loss and it’s back to Philadelphia for Game 6 Sunday.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
There is no shame in losing to a better club or losing a first-round playoff series. But the Rangers’ lack of work ethic and absence of visible pride throughout this beat-down that began with a goal 69 seconds into the match and in which Henrik Lundqvist suffered the quickest hook of his 115-game playoff career heaped dishonor onto the sweater.
Lundqvist, yanked after allowing four goals on 18 shots in 26:04, was no innocent bystander here. The netminder, beaten on the first one after allowing a bad rebound and on the third one on a short-side breakaway after he had been done in on a double deflection for the second one, didn’t come up with a big stop until the early moments of the second period when it was already 3-0.
One goal and a couple of minutes after that, The King was lifted, his robes in tatters, his crown askew.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
from Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post,
No, it’s not over. But damn if this didn’t feel like a funeral.
The Rangers were absolutely blown off the Garden ice Thursday night, losing Game 4 of their first-round playoff series to the Penguins by a score of 5-0 that hardly indicated how badly they were outplayed.
The loss put the Blueshirts on the brink of elimination, down 3-1 in this best-of-seven contest with a do-or-die Game 5 in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
The scene was summarized well by the image of Henrik Lundqvist sitting, sulking, shaking his head in disgust at the end of the Rangers’ bench, the franchise netminder having been pulled 6:04 into the second period after giving up four goals on 18 shots.
via Matt Larkin tweets,
Per a source close to the DOPS, perception was Kris Letang slash was more accidental, that stanchion made stick twist.
Right hand did not aim, and stick caught Stalberg with shaft, not blade, which suggests not aimed/intentional. Hence no suspension.
You can watch the swing below if you wish.
from Zach Braziller of the New York Post,
Nick Mangold roots for the Rangers like he’s playing center for the Jets. He goes after the opposition, only verbally.
For the second time this year, the Jets center attended a Rangers game, and harassed the opposing team like a diehard sitting in the upper deck six beers deep....
Mangold, 32, was specifically going at Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet and star center Sidney Crosby, pointing at them, a source said, and was seen leaning over the railing to talk trash. When approached by The Post afterward and asked about it, Mangold walked away, waved his hand and said: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Mike Sullivan has done just about everything right since taking over as Penguins coach in mid-December, turning a middling hockey club into a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
Tuesday night, after the Penguins beat the New York Rangers, 3-1, in Game 3 in their Stanley Cup playoff series, Sullivan seemed smarter than ever.
Sullivan can thank Matt Murray and one of the Penguins’ best defensive efforts of the season.
You say you saw this coming? You had Murray — the youngest goaltender to start a playoff game in Penguins history — outplaying Rangers great Henrik Lundqvist with his 113 games of postseason experience? You had the Penguins’ defense smothering the Rangers from one end of Madison Square Garden to the other, holding them to 17 shots on net and blocking 15 more? You had the Penguins’ penalty-killers stopping all four of the Rangers’ power plays?
You should buy a lottery ticket.
Game highlights are below...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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