Recap: It’s Over

Well, I’ll start by saying this recap is going to be a little different for obvious reasons. I’m still sitting here trying to process the fact that it’s actually over and lord knows there’s so much to break down and talk about.. We’ll have plenty of time for that across the summer but for one last time this season, let’s run it back. 

1st Period:

The Rangers had the jump from the start which was understandable given the circumstances. With their backs against the wall, they did a good job of establishing momentum early but about three and half minutes in, that would be interrupted by the first penalty of the night.

Vincent Trocheck was sent off for hooking which frankly I’m not sure how you can get called for hooking when you don’t even have the stick in your hands but that’s been the officiating of these playoffs in a nutshell. Thankfully the Rangers came up with a successful kill but Florida didn’t make it easy for them. Igor Shesterkin once again was the difference maker. 

As the teams returned to even strength, the newly renovated third line had a solid shift that resulted in a great chance for Kaapo Kakko but no dice. Just over the midway point of the period, Kyle Okposo took out Jonny Brodzinski with the puck nowhere in sight which would send the Rangers to their first power play of the game. Just prior to that though, Jack Roslovic had as good a chance as any with plenty of net to shoot at with Sergei Bobrovsky sliding over but the rolling puck was sent just over the net.  

This needed to be their breakthrough but of course, they came up empty handed with the man advantage. The top unit had some good looks but again, too much hesitation, not enough shots, powerless power play. The Rangers did a good enough job bouncing back after that but the Panthers were still finding a way to edge them out at times and the overall urgency just wasn’t there. 

With less than a minute to go in the period, another truly baffling series of decisions from the Gustafsson - Trouba pairing resulted in the Panthers picking it off and Sam Bennett ripping an absolute bomb of a clapper past Shesterkin, 1-0 Panthers. The Rangers did consider challenging the play as it was extremely close to being offsides but the coaching staff opted not to. I have to say, whichever way you feel about that choice, that’s one of the most difficult decisions to make. Had they been wrong, they would have been penalized and lost their timeout. The penalty I would’ve been okay with considering it would’ve been split by intermission, but the timeout would have been problematic. Especially given how this game went. 

Shots at the end of the first twenty were 13-8 Florida with them leading in high danger chances 8-4. The key difference there was the Rangers had the higher expected goals for count and were strong in the face-off circle, winning 61% of the draws. Again, turnovers and lack of urgency were the concerns but there was plenty of hockey left.

2nd Period:

The second period would be a whole lot of nothing. Jonny Brodzinski returned to the bench after heading to the locker room after the Okposo penalty. The Rangers had very little to show for in terms of urgency and it wasn’t helping that the Panthers weren’t budging in their game. Matthew Tkachuk had a breakaway that required a big save from Shesterkin as well as several other moments throughout the middle period. No penalties, no goals, not much going right for the Rangers. Time was running out and they needed someone to be a hero sooner rather than later. 

3rd Period:

Goaltending would be the story throughout the rest of this one. Shesterkin was keeping the Rangers in it but Bobrovsky was a big part of the Panthers success as well. Time continued to tick and a minute away from the midway point of the third, former friend Vlad Tarasenko finished off a feed from Anton Lundell, Panthers up 2-0. If you weren’t already slamming the panic button, this was the time. 

Just under 11 minutes to score two goals. It wasn’t looking good but if there was any team capable of it, it was the one with more comeback wins than anybody else. Slowly but surely, this team started to show some life but regrettably, not until closer to the end of the period. With the net pulled and a minute and forty seconds still on the clock, Artemiy Panarin finally decided to chime in with a huge goal to bring the Rangers within one. For as great as that was, it wasn’t any reason to get excited. At least not yet. 

Right back to the drawing board both literally and figuratively. Peter Laviolette was able to use that timeout he would have lost if he was wrong on the coaches challenge but perhaps he should have risked losing it seeing as it didn’t come to much avail of the Rangers. A minute-forty felt like plenty of time but all of a sudden, there were only twenty-something seconds left and the Rangers were still retrieving the puck in their own end. Time ran out, the season that felt like it was meant to be wasn’t, the Rangers season is over. 

Closing Remarks

I really thought this was the year. I’ve gone through so many years of heartbreak with this team but man, something about this year really felt different. There is a lot more to talk about, a lot of questions to try and answer but for now, a little time to process, decompress and recollect is of the essence. 

I’m known to be quite optimistic and while it is extremely difficult to feel that right now, I do want to end this on as much of a positive note as I can. Obviously this team fell short of their ultimate goal and all of that but it was still an incredibly special season. Lots of record breaking numbers, amazing stories and fond memories. 

On a personal note, this was my first year with Blueshirt Banter and I can honestly say getting to do this has been an absolute honor as joining this platform has been a goal of mine for quite some time. I want to thank you all for your support and hope you’ve enjoyed my contributions throughout the year. 

As much as I hate that the season is over, I’m already looking forward to getting to work on off-season content and will be counting down the days to do it all over again next season. Stay tuned as Blueshirt Banter will have plenty more coming to help get ya through the hockey-less days of summer. 

No other fan base I’d rather go through all the highs and lows with, cheers to another season of Rangers Hockey. Enjoy the summer and as always, Lets. Go. Rangers.