Grading The 2013-14 New York Rangers
If any New York Rangers fan says they are not still hurting from the team’s Stanley Cup Final defeat, they are blatantly lying. The best season in 20 years, an unprecedented run to the last series of the NHL’s season, and to lose in that fashion, it stings.
The red eyes and broken hearts in the locker room following the game five loss spoke volumes. This team wanted to win, badly, but alas they fell just short of their goal after Alec Martinez knocked home a rebound given up by Henrik Lundqvist. When the goal was scored, you saw the deflation take place. Lundqvist laid for several seconds in shock, and the pain was almost unbearable.
However, it is time to move on from that. The LA Kings had their celebration, they can enjoy their summer with the Cup, but once October comes around, the clock resets, and 30 teams have another shot at winning the whole thing.
The Rangers had a tremendous season, and they made great strides in their organization, but with some players on the way out, general manager Glen Sather has some decisions to make when it comes to keeping his roster intact.
All in all, these Blueshirts should be very proud of where they have gotten. Nobody pegged them to be in the Final, but they beat the odds and made it there.
With their campaign over and done with, it’s time for a report card. We will be grading goaltending, defense, offense, special teams, and coaching. Let’s get started, shall we?
Lundqvist, the gift that keeps on giving. Although he had a poor start to the season (well, the whole team did), when December came around he really turned things up, stealing vital games for the Rangers en route to the playoffs. He finished with a 2.36 GAA, a .920 save percentage, 5 shutouts and 33 wins.
Shortly after he was thrashed around by the San Jose Sharks in early October, Martin Biron was sent down to the minors by the Rangers, and shortly retired after, becoming a TV analyst for MSG and NBC Sports. This threw Cam Talbot into the mix, and the rookie goaltender took in the spotlight with ease. He provided a steady hand throughout the season and came up big when Hank needed a break, his role can not be forgotten when thinking back to this season. Talbot finished with 12 wins, a .941 save percentage and a 1.64 GAA.
It’s well-known that the Rangers have one of the most solid defensive cores in the entire league, and they proved to be that way this season. After Michael Del Zotto was traded to the Nashville Predators, Kevin Klein came in and played a big part in the Rangers defense. Ryan McDonagh had a great overall season, and he really found his offensive side of things, finishing with 43 points in the regular season.
Although they faltered in the latter rounds of the playoffs, the job that the Rangers defense did this season shows how much they care about winning and without them they would not be where they are right now.
The acquisition of Martin St. Louis proved to be a vital one when thinking about the playoff run, he scored major goals that helped this team on their way, and his overall leadership and skill proved to be very useful.
Overall, the offense wasn’t bad this year, being able to roll four lines consistently helped them out, but once again periods of inconsistency hurt them, especially in the Final.
With Brad Richards gone, Rick Nash will slowly become the new whipping boy for Rangers’ fans, although he only scored three goals in the playoffs, his overall play was impressive and with a little more luck he would have been more helpful for the Rangers.
The Brassard-Pouliot-Zuccarello line was the best all season, and in exit interviews they stated that they want to remain together for next season, but we will see what happens.
Special Teams- B
The John Tortorella days of the powerplay are now over, and although we saw some improvement in the regular season, it went bye-bye in the playoffs, and that proved to be a major difference in the Rangers’ downfall against the Kings. With a better powerplay, New York could be champions right now. But, with Richards gone and McDonagh most likely quarterbacking the top unit, they could be deadly next season.
The penalty kill has always been a strength for the Rangers, and it was once again. They finished third overall in the league with an 85.3% kill rate, but with Brian Boyle potentially testing free agency that number may drop in 2014-15.
A Final appearance in your first year at the helm isn’t too shabby. Alain Vigneault proved to be the right decision after the departure of Torts. The team seems much more free under him, and there is more flow to the offense.
Although fans quit on him after the 3-7 start, he stuck with his guns, rolled his lines and it paid off in the end. He is putting this team back on the map, and Sather couldn’t ask for a better coach.
Enjoy the summer, and gear up for next season, and expect the Rangers to make another deep run, they aren’t done yet.
[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsCjjxNIFPQ&list=UUYimgitv7Y8h5lW6JVZL4lg”]Game Seven Highlights – [/su_youtube]