Well that sucked. There’s no other way to put it, that was the worst way to lose a game ever. I’d 100% have rather lost Game 1 in overtime then lose it the way the Rangers lost last night. It’s the next the morning and I’m still sitting here just shocked. I don’t know what to do, I’m pretty sure I’m boycotting sports all day today (the USA-Finland game in the World Championships that I’m watching right now doesn’t count right?). I mean, how can you leave Joel Ward wide open right in front of the net? This is just an estimation but I’m pretty sure 110% of Joel Ward’s goals have come from within three feet of the net, it’s inexcusable to leave him open there.
I’m not going to get into the hit that was laid on Dan Boyle and discuss whether it was boarding or not (it was). That’s not important. What’s important is why was Dan Boyle even on the ice in that situation? There was a faceoff with 14 seconds left in a tie game. Being the home team the Rangers have the benefit of the second line change. The Caps threw Alex Ovechkin on the ice and when that happens Alain Vigneault has one choice and one choice only, throw out players that can play against Ovechkin.
There were 14 seconds left in the game, so AV had the freedom to mix and match whoever he wants out there. Ryan McDonagh is given the nod but how in the world do you put Dan Boyle out there over Dan Girardi or Kevin Klein? For the forwards he went with the Stepan, Kreider, JT Miller line, which wouldn’t be such a problem if that didn’t mean that JT Miller was on the ice.
If you want to say there were 14 seconds left so he threw some offensive players out there so the Rangers could get one last rush and try to win the game, I understand that. But once Ovechkin steps on the ice you need to make sure he doesn’t beat you first. That means sacrificing some offense on the blue line in this situation. From the forward standpoint you just can’t have JT Miller on the ice. Why not Hagelin, Fast, and either Hayes or Dominic Moore? They’re the Rangers best defensive forwards who also have the speed and ability to get a rush if it presents itself. Not to mention Hagelin-Hayes-Fast was the Rangers best line all game, and had been the best line in Games 4 and 5 against Pittsburgh.
So the coaching let us down, but the coaches only decide who’s on the ice, once they make that decision it’s on the players to execute and what the hell was Dan Boyle doing out there. Boyle took the puck into the corner and tried to kill off the game with 4.5 seconds left. 4.5 seconds is just too much time left on the clock to kill off the game, throw it back behind the net or just ice the puck for crying out loud. You’re asking for too much trouble when you try to hold in in the corner against a team pressing with 4.5 seconds left.
The absolute worst part about this was as soon as I saw Boyle try to kill off the game in the corner, I got the same bad feeling I got during the Luis Castillo Subway Series play. As soon as A-Rod hit that pop up I got that feeling of “this is just a routine play but something just doesn’t seem right” and then watched in horror as Castillo started shuffling his feet and somehow dropped the ball. Same thing last night, as soon as Boyle goes into the corner I was thinking, “OK just kill off these last 4.5 seconds easily but something just doesn’t seem right here.”
Ordinarily I would just say, it’s going to be a long series, the Rangers are a good team and they’ll find their game and bounce back and be ready for Game 2. The only problem with that is the Rangers are historically awful in Game 2, they haven’t won a home Game 2 since 1994! The Rangers either need to reverse some history tomorrow or else they are in for a big time uphill climb.