Slow start in series sends Rangers home for summer
BOSTON -- It didn't take long for the New York Rangers to look back and lament on what went wrong against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
"When they got going in every game, we had a tough time to match it," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said after making 29 saves in a 3-1 series-ending loss in Game 5 on Saturday at TD Garden. "The last couple of games we played a game that we gave ourselves a chance, but it took us a few games to get there. That's something we have to learn from."
Lundqvist's thoughts were the same as coach John Tortorella's and captain Ryan Callahan's. The Rangers got better as the series went along, but they dug themselves too deep of a hole because they weren't good enough early and had no response when the Bruins surged.
"I thought we were slow in the series as far as this is a totally different team than Washington," Tortorella said. "I don't think we got to the level we needed to. I think they're a deeper team than we are so we needed to play at a different level."
They couldn't and it started in overtime of Game 1, when Boston peppered Lundqvist with 15 shots before Brad Marchand scored the winner on the 16th. Boston got the lead in Game 2 midway through the second period and took over in the third to win 5-2.
Just when it seemed the Rangers might be able to get something going in Game 3 after Taylor Pyatt scored in the second period, Johnny Boychuk scored early in the third period to tie the game and Boston surged again, leading to Daniel Paille's winner with 3:31 to play.
"I don't think we played well enough throughout the whole series, especially those first couple of games," Callahan said. "You know when you get in a hole like that you give yourself no room for air."
The Rangers felt they could finally breathe when they got something to go their way midway through Game 4. Tuukka Rask fell down, leading to a fluke goal by Carl Hagelin. It was the break the Rangers had been waiting for, and they made it count by taking momentum back in the game and going on to win 4-3 in overtime.
But it was more of the same in Game 5. Boston surged starting with the second period and the Rangers had no answer.
Sure, Callahan was stoned by Rask on a breakaway with 8:38 left in the game. But the bigger picture is that they were too reliant on plays like that to get back in the series because they weren't able to match the Bruins throughout the first three games.
"We just didn't have the aggressiveness we needed to play in their zone," Hagelin said. "Maybe we gave them a little too much respect. It hurt us."
And it's what they'll think about over the summer.
"It just took too long for something good to happen," Lundqvist said.