NEW YORK – What was supposed to be a coronation last night with the President’s Trophy coming back to Seventh Avenue for the first time since 1994 became a crowning, alright.
Yet it was the Rangers that took the knockout blow early with the Washington Capitals winning the final regular season game, 4-1, giving the regulars season cut to the Vancouver Canucks and a much more difficult a much more difficult matchup for the Blueshirts.
“We had a tough start there. We caught ourselves down early and we never really seemed to get it back,” said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. “I thought we had some opportunities, some chances, but it’s tough to come back. Now the fun stuff starts and we’re excited to get going.”
The fun is a first round matchup with the Ottawa Senators, because of the Canadian team’s loss in Jersey and Washington and Florida pulling out victories. Of the three teams, it gives the Rangers a toughest matchup in the first round.
“They are a very good offensive team,” Brad Richards said. “They have very good offensive weapons and a very good power play. But to be honest with you, I would probably say that about any team. Every team has their top players who are going to be dangerous. If you want to get into a run and gun with them it’s probably not a very good idea.”
The Rangers were 1-2-1 in the Regular season against the Senators. With some deep scoring and speed, it will be tough for the Rangers to keep up. Plus they tend to take advantage of opponent’s mistakes, something that may haunt the Rangers. The Blueshirts need to be perfect, especially giving Henrik Lundqvist some breathing room.
And now the Rangers have a two game losing streak and lost three of four. So the momentum is gone.
“You’ve just got to move on,” Richards said. “You can’t get too high. If you won a couple games going into the playoffs then you lose a couple games, it’s a different situations. I’d love to tell you that getting ready for the last few games were going to be the same as Thursday night, with butterflies and emotion – it’s just not. You can’t turn it on, but I think we generated a lot tonight. Some things found their way in that, let’s be honest, usually don’t find their way in. We have a little puck luck; it’s a different game maybe.”
If they are going to advance in the playoffs for the first time since Tom Renney and Jaromir Jagr were running the team, they have to do a better job than they did against Washington. Thirty two seconds into the game, Alexander Ovechkin scored to make it 1-0 and then Mathieu Perreault made it 2-0 at 2:18.
By the time the first period was over it was 3-0 due to a power play goal from John Carlson late.
And that was all Braden Holtby needed as the young netminder stopped 35 Ranger shots.
“I don’t think we played that badly tonight,” said coach John Tortorella. “I thought we played hard. But it’s hard in these situations when you clinch it. I think the guys wanted to try to get to the top of the league. You get down 2-0 on the first two shots, but I really liked the way we just kept on trying to play hard, trying to find a way.”
Tortorella knows the Rangers will need more than that if his team is going to advance past the first round.
Or this crowning is will be just the beginning.