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Rangers fall to Tampa 2-0 in Game 7 as Season Ends

Game 7 was played at Madison Square Garden, where the NY Rangers are undefeated at 7-0 in Game sevens. I was at Hockey House from before 2:00PM until just before 7:00PM, trying to win a ticket to the game. Alas I was unable to acquire a ducat to see my favorite team play in person, so I drove home to watch it on TV.

The first two periods were exciting hockey as the action was sometimes end to end and sometimes stuck in one zone or the other. At the end of the second period, the score was knotted at zero. With just 20 minutes remaining in one team’s season, I kept praying that the Rangers would emerge victorious. Alas, my prayers were left unanswered. The Tampa Bay Lightning won Game 7 2-0 and will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals to play the Chicago Blackhawks who won the Western Conference Finals at Anaheim on Saturday night.

There, I said it. That sentence was the hardest one I had to type this season, because it marks the end of the 2014-15 NY Ranger Hockey season. It is with sadness, disappointment and some gut wrenching pain, that I type those words.

But, the world will continue. Life will go on. My wife and I are healthy. Our families are doing well. We both have good jobs. Our cats are healthy, lovable and love us both unconditionally. All is well, except that the Ranger’s season ended five wins shy of the Cup. Does it hurt? YES it does. I am 53 years old and have been rooting for the Broadway Blueshirts since 1970. I have seen all my teams win Championships: the Mets, the Knicks, the Giants (four times) and the Rangers. But this year I thought would be the year. They were the President’s Trophy winners. They had home ice advantage. They had the best goalie remaining when they hit the Conference Finals. But it was not to be.

I truly believe that the team could not withstand the loss of Mats Zuccarello anymore. He gave so very much this season and was a real sparkplug that was missing after he took a puck to the face from a shot by Ryan McDonagh. The team was able to rally back from a 3-1 deficit against the Washington Capitals. But that was partly because the Rangers are better than the Caps and that the Caps are not that good, yet.

Against the Lightning, the loss of Zucc was just too great to overcome. That and the news that came out just after Game 7 was completed that Captain Ryan McDonagh had been playing the last couple of games with a broken bone in his foot. And later reports from various media pundits that Marc Staal had a broken bone in his ankle and that Keith Yandle was playing with a shoulder injury. That, added to the loss of Zucc, well, that is just too much to overcome. Also, Tampa is a pretty good team, besides the fact that they have a head coach that has been in the NHL about two months and is as arrogant as Pierre McGuire.

I am afraid that even if they had won the series, it would have been way too much to overcome in the finals. If the Rangers would have had to play without Zucc AND Mac AND Marc, they would have lost to Chicago in four straight.

The players will now rest up, heal their injurie, and return in late August and early September to prepare for the season to begin in October.

In between, there will be the NHL Draft in Sunrise, Florida (home of the Florida Panthers), Free Agency (which begins on July 1st), the signings and letting go of players and the trading of and for others. This is where GM Glen Sather and his team will sit down and study the Salary Cap and decide in which direction the Rangers will go.

That will all happen before the team reports back to get ready for the 2015-16 season. I can hardly wait.

Oh, won last thing. I am a student of Leo Durocher, who said among other things; “show me a happy loser and I will show you an idiot”

I am a sore loser to the utmost, so I hope that the Chicago Blackhawks, who happen to be my second favorite team, kicks the living SPIT out of Tampa. I am not one to hold a grudge, NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to see the Blackhawks score seven goals a night on Ben Bishop.

Next year will come soon enough. Maybe I will be able to acquire a mini plan and be able to attend a few games at MSG and watch my beloved Rangers in person. I would love to gain a media credential and go to home games at the Garden and sit with the other members of the media and cover the team I love like the other sportswriters. I would love to go to the NHL Draft and cover that like a member of the media, as well. DoubleGSports were denied a media credential to cover this year’s draft. That was the first disappointment this week. The other was the result of Game 7.

I will hope and pray that the 2015-16 season brings a few new parts to the team, a hungrier attitude, more desire to crash the net and set screens in front of the goalie, more spectacular goaltending, an injury free pre regular and post seasons and the NY Rangers, the Broadway Blueshirts; as the Stanley Cup Champions.

This I will hope and pray for, for the entire season. From July to June. Like the Brooklyn Dodgers of old, maybe next year, will be our year.

 

Scoring:

TBL: Alex Killorn (7) Assisted by Matt Clarke & Valtteri Filppula

TBL: Ondrej Palat (7) Assisted by Tyler Johnson & Ben Bishop

 

Team Stats                              TBL                               NYR

Shots on Goal                         25                                  22

Power Play                              0 for 0                           0 for 2

Hits                                         25                                  29

Giveaways                              5                                    15

Takeaways                             9                                    5

Face Off Wins                        24                                  40

Blocked Shots                         20                                  12

 

Goalie Stats:

Ben Bishop: 22 Saves on 22 Shots for a SV% of 1.000

Henrik Lundqvist: 23 Saves on 25 Shots for a SV% of .920

 

3 Stars of the Game:

3rd Star: Henrik Lundqvist: 23 Saves on 25 Shots for a SV% of .920

2nd Star: Alex Killorn: 1 Goal (Game Winning Goal)

1st Star: Ben Bishop: 22 Saves on 22 Shots for a SV% of 1.000

 

Broadway Bits:

 

HOT AT THE DOT – The Rangers recorded a single-game playoff-high 40 faceoff wins in the contest (40-for-64; 62.5%). Three Rangers who took at least six faceoffs in the game posted a faceoff win percentage of 80% or better in the game.

–        HITTING MACHINE – The Blueshirts were credited with 29 hits in the contest, as 12 different skaters registered at least one and three skaters tied for the game-high with five hits.

–        Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves in the contest. The Rangers’ all-time playoff wins and shutouts leader allowed two goals or fewer in 14 of 19 games in the 2015 Playoffs. As of the conclusion of the Eastern Conference Final, Lundqvist tied for second in the NHL in wins (11), tied for third in the NHL in GAA (2.11), and ranked fourth in SV% (.928) in the 2015 Playoffs. Lundqvist has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his eight career appearances in Game 7 of a playoff series.

–        J.T. Miller tied for the game-high with five hits and won eight of 10 faceoffs (80%) while skating in a playoff career-high 21:53 of ice time. Miller ranked third on the Rangers in hits (46) and won 54.6% of faceoffs he took (30-for-55) in the 2015 Playoffs.

–        Chris Kreider tied for the game-high with five hits and recorded two shots on goal in 19:59 of ice time. As of the conclusion of the Eastern Conference Final, Kreider ranked second in the NHL in hits (78) in the playoffs this year.

–        Dominic Moore won nine of 10 faceoffs (90%) in the contest. Moore led the Rangers in faceoff win percentage (55.9%; 152-for-272) in the 2015 Playoffs.

 

Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers defenseman/captain

 

On tonight’s game…

 

“Everybody in here gave it our best effort for sure and we just weren’t able to make a couple of plays more than they did.  They fought really hard.  It was a great game to watch, I’m sure, and a great game to be a part of, but ultimately you want to try and find a way to win a game.  (We) Couldn’t get any past them.  They played really well defensively, really well all night and didn’t give us much room, so credit them.  They’re a real good club and they’re going to give a good run in the next round.”

 

On losing Game 7 at home…

 

“Obviously we have a great crowd behind us and they stood by us here tonight too.  We were pretty good all year in this building and they found a way to play a good road game and really simplify their game and (they) played well in their structure, defensively.  They didn’t give us much in any of the games here.  Ultimately this is one heck of a group.  We had a great run, we should be real proud in here too.”

 

On losing the series in seven games…

 

“It won’t really hit you for a couple of days, but like I said, that’s a real good hockey team over there.  Two teams that went the distance, so not much more you can ask for.”

 

  • Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers goaltender

 

On Game 7 being similar to Game 5…

 

“For some reason it was tough for us when they play that tight of a game. Game 5 was kind of the same story; it was really tough for us to create big chances.  Throughout a game you always remember – I wish we scored on that opportunity – but I can’t really recall that type of chance where we felt we could have put ourselves in a good spot.  They played well…you have to give them credit.  I think, just like us, they can play two different games.  They can play a tight game and they can go and score.  It’s painful right now, it really is.  You put your heart and soul into this entire year to try and get back and get an opportunity play in the Final and we were 20 minutes away.”

 

On the feeling going into the third period with the score 0-0…

 

“I think we all felt that the next goal was going to be extremely important.  Unfortunately, I never saw it until it was too late.  There were just a lot of people in front of me. I felt sharp tonight.  I felt like I was tracking pucks well, reading the play well, it was just one of those plays where they threw it in front and through screens.”

 

On the team…

 

“I told the group here, we’re a great group and we’re right there.  The last three, four years I think we are one of the teams that played the most games in the playoffs.  We’re right there.  It’s a great group to be part of and we worked extremely hard.  This year was not enough and we were so close.  That’s what makes it special to go through this, but it’s also extremely tough when you don’t come up with the result.”

 

On the team’s play…

 

“Like I said, we were right there.  It was a tight game and if we get a bounce and a big play at the right time it would have been a different score.  It was that tight of a game, but we came up short.  We worked really long and hard to get here and be in this position.  To come up short, it’s tough.  As a fan, they see what we go through and they go through it as well emotionally, I think, to watch all these games and all the work.  I think we all feel at least that we put everything we had, and we really did everything we could to try to make it back to the Finals.”

 

  • Derek Stepan, New York Rangers forward/alternate captain

 

On losing Game 7…

 

“We did a lot of good things. We could probably look back at it and say we chased too many series and we just ran out of juice. You put yourself in a game to be Eastern Conference Champs and a chance at the Cup again. You ask most guys in training camp if they would take that and we just came up a little short tonight. [I’m] nothing but proud of this group. We’ve got a really special group in here, a really good group of guys.”

 

On this year’s playoffs…

“We did a lot of good things. For the majority of the playoffs we played really good hockey. We got to this series and give Tampa credit; it’s a good hockey team. We just weren’t able to beat them to four. That’s all it comes down to. We get it to a Game 7 on home ice and it just wasn’t there for us tonight.”

 

  • Martin St. Louis, New York Rangers forward/alternate captain

 

On coming up short tonight…

 

“We are all disappointed for sure, but it’s tough to get there. It is. We were fortunate to be there last year. I’m proud of this group. This group played hard. It’s a tough group. They played through injuries; they played through a lot of stuff. We can hold our head high. We played hard. We just came up empty. It’s a tough feeling for everybody.”

 

On the season being over…

 

“It takes a few days to sink in, that the season is over. Time usually heals things. You’ll get a chance to reflect. It’s not going to feel good for a while.”

 

On not being able to get pressure on the net…

“They [Tampa Bay] get that first goal and then they have numbers back. They make it hard. Just like if we would have got that first goal, we would have been a lot harder to play against, just having numbers back.  We always do. When they have numbers back, you have to try to make plays under pressure and it’s a tough thing in this league. You have to try to get shots through and there are a lot of guys in front of the net.”

 

  • Rick Nash, New York Rangers forward

 

On the power play…

 

“[We missed] opportunities on the power play. I think that’s a huge difference in the game.”

 

On not scoring goals tonight…

 

“He [Ben Bishop] was making some good saves, but we didn’t test him as much as we should have. We didn’t work for our shot lanes as much as we could have.”

 

On losing game 7…

 

“[There are] a lot of emotions. I’m pretty upset. In a career you don’t get too many opportunities to play on a team like this and get that opportunity to win a championship. It’s pretty frustrating right now.”

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