This wasn’t a good struggle. This wasn’t even a struggle at all. The final Battle of New York at the Coliseum was by all measure the least within the historical past of the constructing. It had a preseason ambiance, however with out the brawls that when upon a time marked the rivalry. This was cold. This was passionless.
So this was not significantly painful for the Blueshirts, whose tragic quantity for playoff elimination has dwindled to a single level following Saturday night’s 3-0 loss, by which Semyon Varlamov turned the primary goaltender to shut out the Rangers 4 occasions in a season in 67 years, for the reason that Red Wings’ Terry Sawchuk in 1954-55.
This was not Thursday. This was not a duplication of the Rangers’ unpalatable effort within the 4-0 loss at the Garden to these similar tormentors. This, as a substitute, was inevitable.
This was a product of the Rangers dressing a protection by which Libor Hajek was the third most skilled man on the blue line, behind Brendan Smith and Adam Fox, towards a ravenous veteran-laden group looking for the 2 factors needed to clinch its third straight journey to the postseason below the management of common supervisor Lou Lamoriello and head coach Barry Trotz.
This was a operate of the Rangers taking part in with out Jacob Trouba and Ryan Lindgren, simply the 2 guys on the squad who would possibly trigger opponents to maintain their heads up. Both defensemen have been injured inside the previous 10 days towards the Islanders.
Trouba is believed to have sustained a concussion on successful from Matt Martin on April 20. Lindgren additionally might have been concussed when he bounced off Cal Clutterbuck into the curved glass adjoining to the bench on Thursday. There is not any motive in any respect to play Trouba or Lindgren and put them in hurt’s method over these closing 4 video games, which embrace two towards the Capitals at MSG and two in Boston. One would hope administration sees it that method.
Well, at least Mika Zibanejad wasn’t injured when Martin elbowed him smack within the face in a puck battle on the rear boards behind the Rangers’ internet on Saturday’s very first shift. Maybe that’s progress.
Zibanejad might need cracked his stick throughout Martin’s ankles, might need despatched Martin into the boards with a well-placed cross test, however that’s not within the Swede’s repertoire. So as a substitute, he went to the bench in ache at the conclusion of the shift, rubbing his face.
There was actually nobody else who was going to confront Martin. Who? Morgan Barron in his first NHL game? Tarmo Reunanen in his second? Vitali Kravtsov or Colin Blackwell? Artemi Panarin or Ryan Strome? Kaapo Kakko or Alexis Lafreniere? Julien Gauthier?
The Rangers did discuss to Martin over the offseason when he was a free agent. The sides by no means got here shut to an settlement. Martin went again to the Island on a four-year deal, to resume his spot to the left of Casey Cizikas and Clutterbuck on his group’s Identity Line and to wreak havoc.
Pointing out a Rangers’ Identity Line at this level would solely invite derision. Seriously, if Artemi Panarin isn’t coping with a compromising bodily concern, then there isn’t any clarification for the best way he disappeared by way of these two video games. Panain didn’t have shot in both. Indeed, he went shotless in 4 of the eight video games towards the Islanders. This isn’t the best way he performed towards them final yr. Not at all.
There was nothing from Panarin and nothing from Ryan Strome, who appeared to make a protection blunder on Anthony Beauvillier’s game-opening aim at 4:39 of the primary interval. Strome has had a great yr. He has not had a great previous couple of weeks, going the previous seven video games and not using a aim whereas recording two in his previous 14 matches.
So if the Rangers acquired nothing from Panarin and never a lot from Strome, what would you anticipate them to have gotten from younger Kravtsov, who joined the road for 9:22, even whereas sitting for a couple of 12-minute stretch throughout the second interval? Correct. Not very a lot. If they acquired nothing from Zibanejad and Buchnevich, what would you might have anticipated them to get from Alexis Lafreniere? Correct, once more.
Nothing on the board once more from the highest guys. Not a lot magic from Fox, who’s diminished with Hajek as his accomplice. Trotz game-planned towards Fox the best way Fred Shero game-planned towards Denis Potvin from behind the Blueshirts’ bench within the 1979 Stanley Cup semifinal.
By the best way, Hajek has been overmatched since he was moved right into a matchup position upon Trouba’s harm. But does this shock anybody?
Thursday was a pointy slap within the face. This was gentler. This was a mismatch of personnel that performed itself out as if preordained. The Rangers didn’t have it in them to flip the script. There was a weariness to all of it.
So now it’s down to a closing week of meaningless video games after the ultimate Coliseum installment of the Battle of New York. The Old Barn deserved higher.