Not much went right for the Rangers in Game 6, to say the least. The Blueshirts lacked concentration, which led to poor execution of whatever gameplan they had. They played another sloppy game without a sense of urgency that has left us, the fans, feeling as though the Rangers didn't even deserve to win three games in this series. What Game 7 will consist of, no one knows currently at the moment. But to put it nicely, not a lot of money will be down on the Rangers.
But when we think about it, what exactly went wrong for the Rangers? They came out with energy equivalent to starting the games they have won this series, and even stymied the Capitals attempt at taking an early lead. The second Washington goal was the result of a Ranger penalty and a healthy bounce directly to Mike Green's stick, but that is what offensively gifted teams do; they take advantage of situations. The fifth and final Capitals goal was the result of another Ranger penalty. Washington's offense is finally clicking, and they are showing it.
The third and fourth goals might haunt Marc Staal in his dreams tonight. Staal had one of his worst games defensively of this series, but I'm sure scoring one late might have softened the blow. Credit the Caps for not choking the 3-on-1 for the third goal, but the fourth goal was simply Kozlov taking advantage of a struggling Staal.
Now some Ranger fans are blaming Drury for being a poor captain, Staal for having a brutal day, and the overall defensive attitudes of the team. One thing that is a common theme in all these threads is that there is a "lack of effort" from the Blueshirts. Let me tell you how wrong it is as a fan to sit back and say that a player isn't trying in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (remember, this is hockey, you don't get away with dogging it).
As a former captain, current player, and current part-time coach; players obviously have different levels of play depending on how they are feeling that day. The last two games we have witnessed reminded me of my final high school game. It was for a New York State Section Championship and a berth into the State Tournament. Our team, and myself (think of me like a Blair Betts, but with more assists) had played the best month of hockey leading up to this game. We dominated our two playoff games, and we even beat the team we were playing in the Championship three weeks prior (they were still the favorite, slightly). Long story short, we lost that game 5-1. We could not do anything right no matter what we tried. My own line mate for three seasons broke his skate blade on the second shift of the game for crying out loud. So what does this all mean?
The Rangers are up against a team here that in all reality, they should not beat. If the Capitals had taken care of business last week, we wouldn't have even wasted our time this afternoon watching a Rangers team struggle to find the success they have experienced in their three wins. But the fact of the matter is that each player on this Ranger squad is trying their hardest to find the level they were at individually in Games 1, 2, and 4.
Game 6 might have been the best thing for this team because Game 7 puts them up against the wall. The Rangers have to show a sense of urgency for 60 minutes Tuesday because if they don't, you will be reading season eulogy's and reviews on this site for the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There is still hope, and I will explain why there is on Tuesday; so check back.