Rangers Nailed in Five, but Made It a Show
Even though it looks like the Los Angeles Kings coasted to a five-game Stanley Cup win, the New York Rangers were in every game and actually played their worst game in the one game they did win.
All three games in Los Angeles went into overtime, with two going in to double overtime. New York got outplayed at the end of Game 1 but lost Game 2 on a pair of questionable calls. Even though they lost Game 3, 3-0, the Blueshirts doubled the Kings in shots but couldn't score on the Kings' own übergoalie, Jonathan Quick. The Kings dominated Game 4, but the Rangers won that one with Henrik Lundqvist making 40 saves.
And then Game 5 was one for the ages -- another double overtime thriller -- with the Kings clinching the Cup.
But all in all, it was quite a run this spring.
Ranger Nation will look back at those missed chances and questionable calls, but frankly, when the Kings needed to step up, they did. Los Angeles was clearly the better team and is set for the future with its core signed for years to come.
The Rangers, on the other hand, have many questions over this short summer. General Manager Glen Sather has serious work to do. New York needs to put more players around Lundqvist -- whose shelf life of prime performance must now be considered -- and it's Sather's job to do it.
One player who should go is team leader Brad Richards and his big contract. Richards was useless on the ice in the playoffs and his financial terms will hold the Rangers back from now until 2020 if they don't release him.
Rick Nash is someone the Rangers brought in to score in the playoffs. While he's done what he can in other aspects of the game, the scoring hasn't happened. He took the tailpipe in the finals, while players like Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, and Carl Hagelin played well.
The Rangers actually had Marian Gaborik two years ago and traded him. All he did this past season was score 14 goals, including two killer strikes in the finals. The same cannot be said for so-called Ranger stars Nash and Martin St Louis. Both of them will face a long summer of wondering what could have been.
New York needs to find a way to lock up Anton Strålman -- the unique Swedish letter å makes his name's proper pronunciation stroll-mun -- who was wonderful in the playoffs and is a free agent. The rest of the defense is signed at least through next year. Dan Girardi is signed, but after his performance in the finals, he may need to go.
Although it was a heartbreaking loss on Friday night, it was a great run for the Rangers, and they finally have something to look forward to. The problem is how hard it is to get back to the finals.
This is where Sather has to earn his money and make hard decisions. Who goes, who stays, and who signs with the Blueshirts. It will be a summer Ranger Nation will be watching closely.