Saturday's 3-1 loss was a fitting end to the Rangers' season.
All year long the Rangers have been a team that survived because of their heart, fight and effort, but they struggled because they simply aren't that talented. Playing the Capitals, they ran into a team that matched their intangibles and greatly surpassed them on the talent front.
Alex Ovechkin is the best example of their superiority in the skill department and he was the player who made the biggest difference on Saturday. He set up the first Caps goal with a nifty pass to Mike Green on the doorstep of the Rangers goal and scored the second one after beating Henrik Lundqvist with a deke to the backhand in the second period.
The Capitals controlled the run of play for most of the game, but it was the two Ovechkin plays that lifted them above a Rangers team that was, as always, game for battle. Unfortunately, they were, as always, outgunned when it came time to making the plays that win games.
The power play, which should really have a different name when the Rangers have a man advantage, failed to score again and ended the series with a pathetic one goal scored out of 20 chances. They did their best to create chances, but got very few quality looks at the net and couldn't do much against a Capitals' defense that wasn't that giving.
You could nitpick some things about the Rangers' approach, especially their unwillingness to really sell out and attack the net when their season was on the line. It's worth noting, however, that when they did step up the attack in the third period, it took about 15 seconds for the Caps to get a breakaway that resulted in the Alexander Semin goal that started the celebration in Washington.
It's pretty clear what the Rangers need if they hope to take the next step next season: with a talented, young defense and Lundqvist, the team is just a couple of offensively gifted forwards away from moving into the upper half of the Eastern Conference.
Right now, the Rangers are like a character in "The Wizard of Oz," but they don't need heart or courage to fulfill their dreams. They need skill to head down the yellow brick road toward a Stanley Cup.