This is going to be more of a eulogy than a recap of the game. There will be plenty of time for the season's autopsy later (we're going to go more in depth about a lot of things) so this will be a little general and broad. Whatever. Here we go:
- It always sucks when the season ends. It's never a good feeling (unless you win the final game of the year, of course), so this empty and depressed feeling is expected. It's also familiar. That's not a shot at the New York Rangers, by the way, 29 teams feel this way every year.
- In the end, the Rangers were one of seven teams left standing. That's not bad.
- This is a point I'm going to go into much deeper later on, but please do try to remember that no one picked this team to win the Stanley Cup. The pundits picked the team with Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards as two thirds of the Rangers top line. That team is long gone. Neither Gaborik nor Richards were themselves and neither took the ice for the Rangers in the end. Gaborik, obviously, was gone by trade before the trading deadline, Richards was a healthy scratch the final two playoff games and seems likely to be bought out.
- That's good and bad news. The bad news is that the Rangers team that had such high expectations obviously didn't reach them. The top heavy Rangers collapsed on their lack of depth and Glen Sather had to make some savvy moves at the deadline to get it back. The post trade deadline team is younger and was very inexperience in the playoffs. That changed this year.
- My point? Don't look at this year as a failure. No, things did not go the way we expected them to, but the Rangers after the trade deadline are way better than the Rangers before it. That team got a ton of experience and did great things. Yes, tweaks have to be made, more higher end depth is needed and I do think a trade is coming (I have a not so crazy theory about this but it will have to wait for a full story) but this was a great learning experience for the Rangers' core. Guys like John Moore, Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, Mats Zuccarelo and Rick Nash got way more playoff experience. Michael Del Zotto, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh, Anton Stralman, Chris Kreider and Brian Boyle all got even more playoff experience. Those are good things, too.
- The guy I always end up feeling bad for is Henrik Lundqvist. That man deserves to win a Stanley Cup every single year.
- I wait to make judgements on players in the playoffs before I find out about their injuries. So I will reserve judgement until then. My guess at who is injured? Nash, Dan Girardi (did you see him in the third period?) and Ryan Callahan. Maybe more, but those are the big three in my book.
- Speaking of injuries, it's an excuse that really can't be used because we simply don't know, but this series (and the entire playoffs) would have been different with Marc Staal and Ryane Clowe healthy. Two big time players who bring different dimensions the Rangers needed badly.
- That Clowe trade is a terrible trade that wasn't a bad trade. What I mean by that is this: Clowe made the Ranger so much better (he did) and I think he would have made a big difference in this series against the Bruins (and the one against Washington) but he never played. He was brought in to give the Rangers more playoff savvy. He played in one game (I'm not counting the game where he played for two minutes and got injured. That makes this a bad trade.
- Will Clowe stick around? Maybe. I'll go into more detail about that later, too.
- Who comes back? I can't imagine any scenario where Zuccarello doesn't, I also think the Rangers will keep Clowe.
- What to do with that money? Well, this is the second year in a row another team's fourth line (and overall depth) beat the Rangers. Maybe use that money on more high-end depth rather than superstars.
- The Gaborik trade looked better and better as time went on. Moore looks like he might turn into something really special, Brassard was the best player on the ice for the Rangers game in and game out through the playoffs (aside from Lundqvist, of course) and Dorsett is a nice addition (but needs to stop taking bad penalties). Those three players make the Rangers younger and way deeper. Brassard ends the playoffs fifth in the league in scoring and fourth in the league in assists. I tell you this because as the other teams move on (and play more games) he'll lose those titles. So it puts his game in perspective.
- The Rangers acquire the Columbus Blue Jackets' third-round pick as compensation for not making it to the Stanley Cup finals (this was from the Gaborik trade).
- I'm not going to get into this now -- so please no "HOW DO YOU THINK THAT" questions in the comments, we can have that discussion when I write the full story on it later on -- but I think John Tortorella is the right coach of this team. Remember, you can blame the power play on one man and one man only: Mike Sullivan. The Rangers need a new voice there badly. I expect one to come in over the offseason.
Anyway, enough from me.