You always have to expect the unexpected in the playoffs and the Rangers/Capitals series has been full of surprises. I think most people were expecting a lot of close games going in, but what they probably weren't expecting was for the Rangers to look as poor as they have at times this post-season. Despite being the lower seed in this matchup, the Rangers were a much stronger team at even strength during the regular season and could take advantage of this series if this carried over into the playoffs. Instead, the Rangers have been outplayed in at least three of the five games and now find themselves on the brink of elimination heading into Game Six after losing to Washington in overtime. The Rangers have especially had a lot of trouble playing away from Madison Square Garden and last night, they played as poorly as the "Fire Tortorella," and "Buyout Richards" enthusiasts make them sound to be.
Things started off well for the Rangers as they scored the opening goal less than a minute into the game but it was all downhill after that. The Rangers offense went to sleep after the first period, getting outshot 19-9 in the second and third period while generating only two total scoring chances. It's not that they weren't trying to create offense, they just couldn't seem to get out of their own zone to save their lives. You can attribute this to the Capitalsr relentless forecheck and the Rangers not playing aggressive enough to beat it. The Caps ended up with more blocked shots than the Rangers, but I felt like New York was playing a more laid back system than Washington and put more emphasis on shot blocking than trying to out-shoot Washington.
It's understandable that Tortorella wouldn't want to get in a run-and-gun style game against a team like Washington, but spending this much time in your own end is just as dangerous. Henrik Lundqvist was the only reason why this game stayed tied for as long as it did, as he backstopped the Rangers as much as he could and bailed them out of numerous tough situations. As great as Lundqvist is, the Rangers looked like they were playing not to lose for 40 minutes, big no-no in the playoffs, and it eventually burned them. The Rangers have played well at home, so they have a chance in this series but they still need to win one more game at Verizon Center to advance and that seems unlikely barring some improvements.no comments