You might have thought the New York Rangers’ lifeless power play couldn’t get any worse. Well, the Blueshirts found new depths of ineptitude on the man-advantage in their Game 1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Somehow, the Rangers’ most glaring weakness has gotten worse after going 2-for-28 against the Capitals in round one. After going 0-for-3 against the Bruins on Thursday, their feeble power play now stands 2-for-31 through 8 playoff games.
They’re not supporting one another, they aren’t making simple plays and they’re making it look far too difficult. Compare that to the way that the Bruins run their smooth power play. It’s a startling difference.
All of this makes Henik Lundqvist’s life a lot more difficult. Lundqvist faced 48 shots in Game 1 and was constantly pressured by Zdeno Chara’s power shots from the point and a collection of onrushing Bruins’ forwards.
Lundqvist didn’t have a breather in game one, while opposing net-minder Tuukka Rask didn’t have to break much of a sweat in Game 1. Rask could have grabbed a deckchair and kicked his feet up during the nine-plus minutes the Rangers failed to register a shot in overtime.
As Thursday proved, Lundqvist might be superhuman — but he isn’t capable of completing a shut out every single night. Sometimes there’s going to be an odd puck that knuckles past him like Chara’s second period goal.
Lundqvist shouldn’t be forced to pitch perfect games. No one was expecting a five-goal breakout against the Bruins similar to the Rangers-series clincher over the Caps. We all know this is going to be a tight Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Rangers made 17 giveaways in Game 1, which is inexcusable in a series that will likely be decided by slim margins. Obviously, Derick Brassard’s mindless stray pass that led to Brad Marchand’s overtime-winner was the most costly of all.
What the Rangers must do is alleviate the pressure on Lundqvist by raising their level on the power play to at least a semi-acceptable level. They certainly owe him that and need to come up with a remedy before Game 2 on Sunday.
You can follow Sean on Twitter — @HartnettHockey.