Canes dispatch Devils with ease, adding to Rangers frustration

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New Jersey Devils at Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

It took the Carolina Hurricanes just five games to dispatch of the New Jersey Devils which only adds to the New York Rangers misery.

The Blueshirts looked like they had one of their best teams since 1994 after adding Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Motte, and Niko Mikkola to an already excellent lineup.

Instead, they were handed a first-loss in seven games by the upstart Devils. In three of those contests (Games 4, 5, and 7), the Rangers efforts were so abysmal that it led to the dismissal of head coach Gerard Gallant after two consecutive 100+ point seasons.

How did it all go so wrong?

Canes easy victory adds to Rangers misery

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Hurricanes and Devils are fast teams that forecheck aggressively hard. Yet somehow during the regular-season the Blueshirts were able to win the season-series against the Canes 3-1. For some reason, they had a harder time with Jersey going 1-2-1.

It’s almost as if the Rangers simply stopped competing against the Devils after winning the first two games by identical 5-1 scores. Looking back, it was probably a bad thing that they handled Jersey so easily.

The culmination of these lousy efforts came in Game 7 with no score in the contest and the Rangers on the power play. Adam Fox (of all people) was casually toying with the puck in his own zone waiting for something to develop. Meanwhile, the Devils attacked him within seconds of his poor decision to steal the puck and score shorthanded.

Michael McLeod, who tallied all of 4 goals in 80 games during the regular season ended the Rangers dreams of a championship.

New York fell by a 4-0 final in the biggest game of the season and GM Chris Drury was absolutely justified to be furious.

Of course, there was plenty of blame to go around for losing. However, it was Gallant that paid the ultimate price, which is usually the case.

Which brings us back to the question: What went wrong?

Let’s start with the Rangers probably had too many chefs in the kitchen. Gallant sealed his fate when he called out Drury for constructing the roster with what sounded like minimal input from his head coach.

“Talent doesn’t mean a thing,” Gallant said after elimination. “It’s great to have talent but you’ve got to play and work hard together– I love to have talent but you’d like to have a work ethic, forechecking, and stuff like that. We just didn’t get it done.”

It’s true, the Rangers had too many offensive players that want the puck and not enough players that are willing to play even harder to get the puck.

That doesn’t absolve Gallant for failing to make adjustments or penalizing his top stars for poor play. He just kept sending them out to do more of the same even when it was obvious that it wasn’t going to work.

In the end, the Rangers needed more players like Jesper Fast, who scored the series winning power play goal in overtime for the Canes.

Fast left the Blueshirts for the Hurricanes via free agency back in 2020 during the heat of the rebuild. We reported back at the time, that the window had closed between the two parties and he was heading to free agency. Additional rumblings noted that Fast was looking for multi-year deal close to $4 million per season, but the Rangers were not interested.

There were also rumors that prior to Fast signing with the Canes, the Rangers were willing to give him two-years at $2 million AAV. Ultimately, Carolina gave him an extra year at that same AAV.

The 31 year-old will be a UFA this summer, and it’s possible the Rangers may want a reunion with their former 2010 sixth-round pick. Fast registered 155 points in 7 seasons with the Rangers.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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