Blog Entry

Rangers stretch the truth

Posted on: May 4, 2008 6:36 pm

Those must have some "win one for the Gipper" type speeches in the New York Rangers dressing room before the third and overtime periods. Whether they came from coach Tom Renney or one of the veterans doesn't really matter because they worked well enough for the Rangers to exit their season without being totally embarrassed.

It would have been nicer for them to avoid losing a 3-2 overtime decision to the Penguins in Game 5 of course, but that would have required New York stealing a victory it didn't really deserve.  The Rangers came close, but in the end they were deservedly beaten by a younger, more talented team that had the kind of discipline and defensive skill New York did not to seem to fully appreciate enough throughout the series. That's the way it should be, no matter how much the Rangers will tell themselves otherwise in the coming months.

The Rangers tried to make themselves, and maybe the Penguins believe the tables had turned when they avoided a sweep at home in Game 4 with a physical and aggressive display. The first 10 minutes of this one could have supported their case because they brought the momentum with them and Pittsburgh looked a little stunned at the outset. But the Penguins handled the heat without having to leave the kitchen, after absorbed the body blows without damage, they wrestled away control of the game.

Pittsburgh dominated the next 30 minutes, thoroughly enough that the two-goal lead they took into the third period looked more than safe. But with only 20 minutes standing between and elimination, the Rangers came out with some new batteries and had the game tied in less than four minutes on goals by a couple of rookies. New York owned the rest of the period the way Pittsburgh owned the first two, the Rangers just couldn't produce the quality scoring chances they needed regardless of the pressure they applied. And when Chris Drury took a four-minute high sticking penalty at 18:42, the hand writing seemed on the wall.

It just took a little longer that it might have to become legible.

The Rangers did an impressive job hanging on for their lives against what was a very dynamic Penguins power play on this day to get into overtime, and then finished off the penalty kill with some desperate work in the extra session. But the effort clearly took whatever was left of the New York skaters. They didn't get a shot in the overtime, while Pittsburgh managed six, the final one off the stick of Marian Hossa, who beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqivst for the second time on this day.

Hossa was the offensive star for Pittsburgh as a result, but Malkin wasn't bad either with a key goal and 10 shots. Still the story of this day was not Pittsburgh's scoring prowess, but how the Penguins shut down the Rangers and particularly Jaromir Jagr so effectively. The Rangers managed only 22 shots compared to Pittsburgh's 40, and none of them came from Jagr who had Jarkko Ruutu hanging on him all day like a bad suit.

Jagr though, showed up,  unlike many of his teammates who for too much of the game looked like they were satisfied to have avoided being sent home by a broom.  Jagr worked it hard in what might have been his final game as a Ranger,  going to the front of the net and to the corners and he even drew three penalties for New York.

But he was on his own for most of the night, and no matter what the Rangers were told between periods, that wasn't enough.

Category: NHL
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