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2022 New York Rangers Playoffs

Tampa Bay eliminates Rangers with 2-1 win in Game Six

First Period:

Second Period:

  • Steven Stamkos (8) Assists: Mikhail Sergachev (6), Ondrej Palat (7)

Third Period:


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  • Frank Vatrano (5) (Power Play) Assists: Andrew Copp (8)
  • Steven Stamkos (9) Assists: Ondrej Palat (8), Nikita Kucherov (16)

Stats:

Adam Rotter:

  • Ultimately the better team won. Tampa Bay was and is just better than the Rangers. The Rangers certainly made this a series and I don’t think that the gap between the two teams is that big, but Tampa’s best players got better as the series went on and the Rangers best players grew quieter.
  • And Tampa deserved to win tonight. The game was only close because Igor Shesterkin was outstanding. Tampa controlled the play all game, had the puck all night and the Rangers either couldn’t show or didn’t reach the level of desperation  that was needed.
  • In the end the Rangers played Rangers hockey to the end. Igor Shesterkin was excellent, the PP eventually scored, but it wasn’t enough to gloss over how much time they spend in their own zone, how many chances they give up and how much they struggle at times to create at even strength, they couldn’t find a way to win and their season is over.
  • Should the Rangers have been awarded more penalties over the last few games? Maybe, probably, but that isn’t an excuse. You need to be able to generate consistent offense at even strength and then have your PP augment that. The next step for the Rangers has to be possessing the puck and playing in the offensive zone because doing that will almost certainly lead to more even strength goals and lessen their absolute reliance on the PP and Igor Shesterkin. There is also the need to defend better, which can then start the offense and just a more structured game overall. The Rangers have the best goalie in the world, but he will get even better and fresher if they don’t need to rely on him in a massive way night in and out.
  • I’ve been saying it for a couple of games now, but 20 games in 40 days, or whatever it is, plus the three OT game to start the playoffs, had this team cooked. They played their hearts out to get to this point, but all the chasing, all the coming back and all the minutes caught up with them at the same exact time that Tampa kicked off their rust and was able to tap into all the rest they had. I just don’t think they had the push anymore and without their quick strike ability on the PP, they almost had no chance to win.
  • I don’t understand scratching Kaapo Kakko. I’m biased, am a Kakko fan and still believe he’s going to reach a fair amount of his potential, but there is no way that Dryden Hunt is a better choice than Kakko. I don’t actually mind Hunt as a fourth liner, but Kakko, even though he hasn’t shown it as often as he should, always has more offensive potential and the Rangers needed that. Now if Kakko is hurt, that is another story, but healthy scratching Kakko and replacing him with Dryden Hunt, to me, is a mistake.
  • I also understand that it’s an elimination game and he centers the second line, but Ryan Strome was ineffective at best, a liability at worst and then gone after the second period. I give him credit for wanting to play and him sitting and Kakko and Dryden Hunt playing, with Andrew Copp at center, probably doesn’t make a difference, but you play the game with like 10.5 forwards with what Strome, Chytil and Goodrow are going through.
  • For most of the playoffs the Rangers best players led the way. Mika Zibanejad was great, Chris Kreider had his moments and Adam Fox was outstanding at times. Artemi Panarin had his moments and scored the goal to beat the Pens, but generally wasn’t the dynamic player we know him to be. Whether it was match up problems or just all the minutes catching up, they just weren’t the same in this series.
  • I give Tampa Bay a ton of credit. They never wavered after going down 2-0 and were able to fall back on their team infrastructure, their rested legs and timely goals. There is a reason why they are the two-time defending Champs. They stopped taking penalties, made adjustments and have a chance for a Three-Peat. It didn’t phase them for one second when the Rangers tied it because 21-seconds later they were back in the lead.
  • I did have thoughts before the series started and as the Rangers won the first two games about the Rangers being the team to knock Tampa off and assume their likely role as the heir to being the best team in the East. Tampa remains the East Champs and the Rangers will have to wait until next year to knock them off. It’s also three straight years where Tampa beats New York in the Conference Finals as they beat the Isles the last two years. It also would have been nice to do the one thing that the Isles couldn’t do the last two years.
  • It’s hard to pick against Tampa because of who they are, but I think Colorado is the best team in the league and will likely win the Stanley Cup. I also think that the Avs would have skated circles around the Rangers, especially with how much hockey the Rangers have been playing. Maybe Igor Shesterkin would have been able to steal a game or two, but Colorado is relentless and think they would have beaten the Rangers in five or six. I do think that at some point in the next few years we will see the Rangers and Avs battle for the Cup and hopefully by the Rangers will have gone up a couple of levels in their overall game and be able to match what the Avs bring.
  • So losing four straight and not being able to score leaves a sour and disappointed taste in your mouth, but this was a phenomenal season where the Rangers exceeded basically any expectation you might have had coming into the season.
  • They should have lost to the Penguins, but they were able to dig into the Pens flaws, Jacob Trouba hit Sidney Crosby, Artemi Panarin scored in OT and the Rangers went to the second round.
  • I thought Carolina was the better team coming into the series and with any production from their top guys they probably would have beaten the Rangers, but Igor Shesterkin was great and the frustrated Canes marched to the penalty box, the Rangers filled the net and went on to this round with Tampa.
  • You hope that what they have gone through in these 20 games will be a significant part of how this team evolves. We can’t say that they aren’t experienced anymore. They’ve gone to the third round and were beaten by the two-time champs. There are lessons to be learned with this experience and if they take them and build on them they will reach another level.
  • So now the big question becomes how  different the Rangers will look on Opening Night. We know that the core will be here (Kreider, Zibanejad, Panarin, Lafreniere, Goodrow, Shesterkin, Fox, Miller, Trouba, Lindgren and Schneider), but who else?
  • Is Strome coming back? Andrew Copp? Is there room for Frank Vatrano? Tyler Motte, even as a fourth liner, seems like a major priority. But what about Chytil after his the big strides he took and big moments he had in the playoffs? Is this a one-time thing and situational scratch for Kaapo Kakko or will Chris Drury try to use him as a trade chip? Vitali Kravtsov, Zac Jones, Nils Lundkvist? Also could go either way.
  • And that is the other thing. Maybe none of the pending UFAs are back and maybe Chris Drury uses that cap space and his assets to strike for a big trade or two?
  • My early guess would be that Copp and Motte return, Strome signs a long-term deal somewhere else and that Drury starts moving prospects for more immediate help in the middle-six. I don’t know who those players may be, but the time is now to strike for some pieces that bring some elements this team has been lacking.
  • Coming into the season I thought that this was going to be the transition year from being in the rebuild to being a playoff team and on their way to becoming contenders. They moved past that transition phase early in the season and established themselves as a playoff lock early on and then, mostly because of Shesterkin, as contenders. A first or second round loss would have been sufficient for where I thought the team was, but going to Game Six of the Conference Finals changes things. Progress isn’t always linear, as Tampa Bay’s experience before winning showed, but expectations for next year are different. They will be expected to get back to at least this position next year and go further. Can they do that? Can they get back to at least the Conference Finals next year? Without knowing exactly who comprises it’s hard to say, but with Igor Shesterkin in net it’s not unreasonable to dream big. He showed he is the backbone of this team, like Henrik Lundqvist was, but the players around him are unlike any group Lundqvist had. The future was bright for the Rangers and after a season like this and with a goalie like they have, it may even be brighter.