Despite Additions, Rangers Fall Due to Old Problems

Changes couldn't overcome holdovers when all was said and done

Before the Rangers made a whole host of changes to their team in March -- the additions of Sean Avery, Derek Morris, Nik Antropov and a coaching switch -- they had a few problems; their high paid stars weren't producing, they played with no emotion many nights and they couldn't score at all, depending on Henrik Lundqvist to win games.

During last night's loss to the Capitals and in their other three losses during the series, the Rangers fell prey to these same faults. Blame coach John Tortorella's distractions and GM Glen Sather's letter all you want, but this was still the same that struggled mightily before the bandaids were applied.Outside of Game 1, the Rangers still couldn't score. Sure, it's the playoffs and scores tend to be lower. But after chasing Jose Theodore in Game 1 by scoring four times, the Rangers solved rookie Simeon Varlamov only seven times over the next six games.

You can never expect to win a playoff series, especially against a team with the offensive fire power of the Caps, when you average just over a goal per game. Nik Antropov and Sean Avery, late additions that were supposed to help the offense, did. They had five points in the series. That may not seem like a lot, but when you compare it to some other players on the roster it is.

The Rangers biggest hole was the disappearance of some of their best players. Nikolai Zherdev and Chris Drury were second and third on the team in points this season with 58 and 56 respectively.

They combined for one point and a -7 rating against Washington.

In the end, it came down to the players that had helped the Rangers all along, namely Sean Avery and Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers probably should have lost both Games 3 and 4 at home. They ended up winning Game 4 thanks to Lundqvist standing on his head and willing the Rangers to victory at the Garden. With his team getting out shot 30-10 over the final two periods, Lundqvist stood tall and denied the Caps at every turn.

In Game 7, Avery and Lundqvist were the Rangers' best players. Avery was all over the ice all night long and played smart, not taking any penalties (and probably should have had a few called on the Caps he was harassed by). He was rewarded with just under 21 minutes of ice time, second among Ranger forwards to Brandon Dubinsky, who was also deserving of his ice time.

As for Lundqvist, who knows what happens if the Capitals don't get a fluky goal in the first period. It's hard to blame him for the laser Sergei Fedorov fired past him in the third, either.

Fedorov, who is nearly 40-years old, found the fountain of youth and flew down the wing. He came to a screeching halt in the right face off circle and fired a scorcher past Lundqvist to put the Caps ahead for good. For a few moments, he channeled the talent that made him a star in Detroit during the 90s and brought it to 2009.

But aside from a fluke and a laser, Lundqvist put his team in a position to win. That's all you can really ask from your netminder, especially when the forwards in front of him manage one shot in the final period. He was clearly upset after the final horn sounded and while shaking hands with the opposition but he had done everything he could.

In the end, it was the same Rangers putting forth the same lackluster offense and effort that nearly left them out of the playoffs and spurred all the changes in the first place. Avery and Tortorella were brought in to provide the spark to jump start the teams' emotion and intensity levels. Antropov and Morris were acquired to bolster the offense and sure up the defense. They all did what they were asked, and helped get the Rangers to this point, but hockey is a team game. And the four of them couldn't act on behalf of the guys they were brought in to help.

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