Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bye Bye Blue shirts

They went into the playoffs in a slump and never seemed to come out of it, for the New York Rangers the four games it took be eliminated from the playoff derby was just a continuation of the last couple of weeks of hockey in Manhattan.

The Rangers bowed out with a 4-2 loss at Madison Square Garden, a place that saw them share many great nights this year, but on Saturday became the scene of a wake for a season suddenly ended.

After what can only be described as a remarkable season, the Euro Rangers were crushed four straight by their Garden state rivals the New Jersey Devils. The Rangers were never really in this series from the beginning, with injuries to key players including the amazing Jaromir Jagr, the stars seemed crossed from the get go for anyone in Ranger Blues this playoff season.

Martin Brodeur continued to prove he’s the best goal tender in the game at the moment, as he shut down the Rangers time and time again. With disciplined play and a strict adherence to what they call Devils hockey, New Jersey dominated this series from the opening puck drop to the final whistle of game four. It was a text book display of how a Lou Lamoriello led team works and what makes them tick, one of the key components Patrik Elias. The Devil missed a good part of the season suffering from Hepatitis A, but now with a clean bill of health and bit of rest he’s on fire on the Devil attack.

Since his return to the Devil’s line up, they have been one of the hottest teams in the league, peaking at just the right time and promising to make things difficult for those that cross their path in the next round.

For the Rangers it must be a bittersweet ending to a pretty remarkable season, they were pegged to finish dead last or close to it at the start of the season, no one suspecting that the heavily Eurofied line up would stand the rigors of an NHL season. But with Tom Renney behind the bench they came together well during the regular season, setting scoring paces that many had trouble keeping up with until the end of the season.

It bodes well for next year, as they get a little bit older, a bit more seasoned and more familiar with each others style. But a series loss is still something hard to take. Having come so far in so short a time, the Rangers will surely be thinking of what could have been had only they been able to take up the challenge offered by the Devils.

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