Carpe diem — the Latin phrase meaning seize the day — was the answer the New York Rangers so desperately needed to advance in the playoffs. Their series with the number one seed Washington Capitals was also a series of moments and mistakes. Seize the moment, take the series. The Caps did just that as they went on to win 3-1 this afternoon in Game Five at the Verizon Center.
Brian Boyle and linemates Brandon Prust and Sean Avery got the Rangers off to a great start but after their shift was over it seemed to be all Caps from there. Alexander Ovechkin faked a shot and dished the puck to defenseman Mike Green who got the Capitals on board at 5:59 of the first period on the powerplay. Green converted after Rangers’ defenseman Bryan McCabe took an unnecessary tripping penalty.
Ovechkin later added salt to the wound with a highlight reel goal in the second period. He weaved around Marc Staal and got Henrik Lundqvist to drop low as he lifted the puck high into the net. Alex Semin capped it off at 16:23 of the third period to make it 3-0. The Rangers pulled Lundqvist for the hail-Mary empty net and Wojtek Wolski managed to notch one with seconds left in the game. Too little, too late.
Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist captured it best in his televised postgame interview to reporters: “When you have that chance and opportunity, you need to grab it. We didn’t do that.”
He’s likely talking Game One and Game Four to be exact. The loss hurts because the Rangers lost by a few hairs and two losses in overtime.
They may not have had the talent to compete with D.C. gunners Ovechkin, Semin and Nicklas Backstrom but they had the willpower and potential to do damage. They had flashes of Cinderella story brilliance this season, a comeback never say die attitude. Each game of this series was tight, and hard fought. It could have went either way, but ultimately the better team won. Not better on paper but better at coming through at just the right moment.
Not in the stars: My Rangers in 6 prediction came with some qualifiers: “They’ll prevail only if: Lundqvist maintains his composure; Gaborik gets his act together; everyone works hard like blue collar Brandon Prust; the power play doesn’t consistently choke.” The powerplay went 1-for-20 in the series and Marian Gaborik remained elusive appearing long enough for one goal and an assist. The crew worked hard though, especially Dan Girardi who continued to use his body to deflect pucks away from Lundqvist. He reportedly dislocated his finger after taking a swing at Brooks Laich and may have injured his ankle after blocking a hard shot. That didn’t keep him off the bench for long though as he returned to play the rest of the game. Henrik Lundqvist became the heart and soul for the Rangers this series and gave them every opportunity to win. They just couldn’t seize the moment.
The Cally effect: There is no doubting that losing Ryan Callahan before the playoffs was not going to bode well for the Rangers. Callahan’s mere presence surely would have made a difference but he alone could not have solved the Rangers’ offensive issues.
About the Author
Written by Margaret DeJesus
I'm a recent college graduate looking for a dream job covering hockey. I've been watching the New York Rangers since my grade school days of VHS and Gordon Bombay's "ducks fly together" speech. While studying journalism at Boston University (COM '10), I wrote for the Daily Free Press, the student newspaper. I worked two summers at the Staten Island Advance, my hometown newspaper, writing city news and features. I've also written CD reviews for Music-Reviewer.com. One of my favorite gigs was interning for hockey analyst extraordinaire Stan Fischler covering the Boston Bruins and attending all their home games in the 2009-2010 season. (Yes, including the crushing defeat against the Flyers in the Eastern Conference playoffs.)