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And then there were two: Rangers’ gas tank hits empty

May 25, 2012, 11:05 PM EDT

lundqvist Getty Images

If the New York Rangers really were tired, then the New Jersey Devils certainly didn’t help matters. The Blueshirts’ local rivals didn’t humiliate them, but they did enough to prove their superiority and ultimately bump the East’s top seed out of the playoffs with a 4-2 series win thanks to a 3-2 OT win.

What happened?

Blame it on fatigue if you want, but the Devils were just too much for the Rangers. New Jersey had too much talent; Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise proved to be a superior one-two punch compared to Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. The Devils boasted too much depth as Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta scored huge goals. Ultimately, their forecheck was just too fierce and the Blueshirts found themselves chasing the Devils more often than not in the series.

Who takes the blame?

Michael Del Zotto is the easy scapegoat for the Rangers, and no doubt about it, he was on the ice for many of the team’s worst moments. You can say that he still has some room for improvement.

That shouldn’t excuse Richards and Gaborik, though, as they were often MIA in this six-game series. Gaborik, in general, was quite inconsistent in this year’s playoffs. It’ll be interesting to hear if the fragile star has been fighting off injuries because he wasn’t very good – not exactly what you want to see from a winger who registers a $7.5 million annual cap hit.

Overall, there weren’t many Rangers who will look back at this series without at least a slight feeling of regret.

What will they do about it?

If you believe the whispers, the Rangers might still be in the Rick Nash sweepstakes. Depending upon what he’d cost, that move might just be worth it because New York could use a boost. At the same time, Glen Sather’s lust for splashy moves has been a double-edged sword; his expensive imports have only worked out relatively well recently. (See: Holik, Bobby and Gomez, Scott, among many others.)

The Rangers have plenty of youth beyond their big-name guys, though, so it’s reasonable to assume that there could be some improvement from within. Henrik Lundqvist probably has a few more elite years left and surely you’ve heard all the gushing reviews about youngsters such as Chris Kreider.

The future still should be bright in the Big Apple, yet one cannot help but wonder how many times they’ll be able to avoid formidable East teams, like their division mates in Philly and Pittsburgh.

More

And then there were 15: Is Detroit’s dynasty on its last legs?

And then there were 14: Sharks come out flat in playoffs

And then there were 13: Powerhouse Pens fall flat

And then there were 12: Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks bounced in Round 1

And then there were 11: Another first-round exit for Blackhawks

And then there were 10: Bruins run out of Game 7 magic

And then there were nine: Senators out, but future’s bright

And then there were eight: Panthers go out swinging

And then there were seven: Blues swept out of Western Conference semifinal

And then there were six: So much for Nashville’s mid-season reload

And then there were five: New-look Flyers produce familiar results

And then there were four: Capitals fall just short in Game 7

And then there were three: Coyotes’ run falls short

  1. scotia54 - May 25, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    Pat Burns is looking down from Hockey heaven, sitting on his motorcycle, smiling down on the Devils!

  2. danphipps01 - May 25, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    Think it’s possibly to trade Gaborik? Richards had a solid run overall, though he wasn’t as big in this series as he needed to be. Gaborik, though, was just plain bad. He’s really never earned that contract, and frankly, the Rangers need the room to resign the young guys who DO earn their keep in the playoffs. Gaborik’s always been mediocre under pressure. Time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

  3. mmazzzzzz - May 26, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    why do Stepan and Boyle get a free pass? Where were they all series?

  4. schlitzy - May 26, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    Thanks for a great year NY. It was a fun ride!! Lots of positives to look forward to next season!

  5. obamablowz - May 26, 2012 at 6:09 AM

    Devils vs Kings…….Yawn! Just what the NHL needed right?

  6. jimeejohnson - May 26, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    After all the haters from Vancouver and Boston last year, you’re damn right!

  7. stakex - May 26, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    You know, the difference wasn’t that New Jersey had too much talent for the Rangers to handle, or that they had more depth. I think the Rangers were every bit as good a team, especially over the last two games… its just that the Devils made big plays and the Rangers didn’t. Its really that simple. Kovalchuk wasn’t great in the series, but he found the net when it really mattered…. something Gaborik and Richards simply didn’t do.

    There is also no way around the fact the Rangers played 14 games before the series even started, and only had one day off between sereies. The other ten teams that did that in the modern era never made it to the Cup… and I think the reason is pretty clear. That explosive speed, and that late game edge in conditioning the Rangers have had all year were both missing in this series. Not to mention their d-men like Giradi, McDonagh, and Del Zotton made huge mistakes they haven’t been making all season… and it would be hard to believe fatigue didn’t have something to do with it.

    In the end though, none of that matters. The Devils won, and the Ragners didn’t… all the rest is just noise.

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