NEW YORK – Make it six straight home playoff losses for the New York Rangers as they fell in game three of the first round to the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs now have a two games to one lead in the best-of-seven series. Game four will be played on Tuesday and if the Rangers can’t find their game it will be another early exit.
You can relate to the frustration of the fans and especially Henrik Lundqvist who, yet again, was superb in the net. You can’t help but feel for the guy who year in and year out is always stellar in the playoffs. His playoff record may say otherwise but it certainly doesn’t reflect the performances he has put on over the years; including the first two games of this series. The other part of the frustration is the special teams specifically the power play. The Rangers power play is now 0-for-10 in the series and that is proving to be the difference maker as the Canadiens were able to cash in on 2 of their 3 in tonight’s contest.
This was the match-up everyone wanted for the Rangers. Stay away from the Metropolitan division and go for the Atlantic and they did, not on purpose of course, but they did and it’s been difficult thus far. This was by far the worst game we’ve seen at home by the Rangers and the frustration is mounting. Coming into the season, there wasn’t much expectations given the off-season moves but they were expected to make the playoffs. The performance we seen at Madison Square Garden was atrocious. The crowd was in it for maybe a few minutes (and by crowd, I mean the very select few real fans who have been phased out by the businessman and the sky rocketed ticket prices.)
We can go on and on but the point is the Rangers need to find their game quick. Their top players need to show up and not rely on the fourth line to generate chances because that has been the most consistent line through the first three games. Everyone talks about the window for Lundqvist and its rapidly closing and this was their best chance to at least the Eastern Conference finals going through the Atlantic division.
As for those top players and the overall game, head coach Alain Vigneault certainly didn’t shy away to make it known his players aren’t performing well, “They’re (Habs) playing very well defensively. You have to give them a lot of credit. Structurally, they’re very sound and at this time right now our best line is our fourth line. Our top players need to find their game. They obviously don’t have it right now. We have another game on Tuesday. You have to get yourself in a mental zone to execute. That’s what we’re going to work on tomorrow and Tuesday morning.”
As for Lundqvist, who we all know will put the pressure and blame on himself spoke about the growing frustration, “I think it’s important we start with ourselves and not look at what they are doing. Let’s start with ourselves. Yes, they are a good team. We have to give more at home, in the playoffs, or we aren’t going to win. We need more; it’s as simple as that. Obviously special teams were a big part of the game tonight. I didn’t come up with the saves there on the penalty kill. They made some good plays. Our power play did not get going and get any momentum for us. We all need to be better in the next one.”
The Rangers need to get it together as mentioned. Their overall play and their top guys need to step up, it’s plain and simple at this point. It will be a long summer if things don’t come together by Tuesday.