On a night when questions about the futures of some of the best athletes in college football were answer in the NFL first round draft, the Rangers opened the door to some questions of their own.
Did the layoff hurt them? Did it help the Caps? Is Lundqvist struggling to regain his focus? Where is the offense? What happened to the Rangers who won the President’s trophy?
It could be possible that the time off hurt the Rangers coming into this game. Maybe because they had more time to relax they lost an edge compared to Washington who is still in the game rhythm. Sometimes that time off tends to back fire because you get out of that typical pattern and there is an adjustment phase. Plus the Caps are coming off an extremely emotional win in D.C. over the Islanders in a Game Seven that they played extremely well in. Ovechkin seems to have found himself in the latter stages of that series and Holtby came on after starting slowly.
After Lundqvist spent most of the past couple of months getting back on the ice you have to wonder if he’s still trying to find that playoff form. Granted he’s rested but that sharpness may not be there at times, although the Rangers seemed to have left him out to dry a couple of times and he bailed them out. The game winning goal at the end of the third period though probably should have been stopped and you have to wonder if it was a matter of focus?
Speaking of focus, the focus should be on the power play, a power play that was supposed to have improved at the trade deadline with the addition of Keith Yandle but has yet to really make anyone pay the price here in the playoffs. Even Rick Nash seems to be missing the net, setting that seemed difficult for him to do during the regular season. With Zucc out now it’s going to be even more important for the power play and the top line to come through, someone is going to have to step up and make a huge contribution. Holtby is beatable, in the Game Seven he let through a crappy shot that should have never scored, there’s no reason the Rangers should not be driving the net and putting pucks on net and scoring. This isn’t the team that won the President’s trophy, we all saw that in the Penguins series. I know playoff hockey gets tight but these aren’t the same Rangers, they look like they are the Jr Rangers. Maybe Coach can shake them after the loss, someone has to because if Washington gets on a roll they are going to be tough to stop.
I know it’s only Game One but there are some alarms going off and they need to be going off. Issues need to be addressed and the Rangers better get to them now or else they are going to find themselves 2-0 headed to Washington in a hurry.