For days all Rangers fans could think about was their team’s first postseason appearance in two years since Jeff Gorton led the Blueshirts down the rebuilding path. Saturday that moment came and all the goodwill and anticipation was wiped away merely 61 seconds in.
Brady Skjei welcomed his former mates to the postseason early with a hard clean hit on Jesper Fast which would knock him out of the game and the tone for Game 1 was set from there. After that Jaccob Slavin started the party for the Carolina Hurricanes beating Henrik Lundqvist high blocker side off a beautiful feed across from Sebastian Aho.
Lundqvist would settle in for the Rangers though stopping 34 of 37 shots from the Canes but it would prove to be not enough with the Blueshirts falling 3-2. This game was sloppy as anything I have ever seen but the only team that really looked ready to play was the Canes. For a team that seemed like they did not want to play the Rangers after voting against the “return to play” format, Carolina seemed to take out their frustrations of being swept by the rebuilding Blueshirts four games to nothing in the season series.
Just like against the Islanders in the exhibition, Kaapo Kakko was flying around the ice creating chances for the beleaguered Blueshirts but Mrazek stood tall for the Canes. Filip Chytil was the third and lone bright spot as he seemed to be the only Rangers forward not named Kakko to be able to create any sort of offense at even strength.
Game one, even though it was disheartening doesn’t mean the series is over. On the other hand, the Rangers played extremely poorly and Carolina was only able to squeeze out a one goal victory even though they seemed to carry the play throughout most of the game. The Blueshirts seemed to find their game a bit more in the second period and into the third. Outside of some really mindbogglingly stupid penalty this game was there for the taking in the 3rd period. Until an inexcusable penalty by McKegg that led to Carolina’s third goal that went off of Marc Staal after weak shot block attempt to seal the game just as Carolina’s powerplay expired.
If New York is going to have any hope of being able to turn the series and avoid being in the lottery for Lafreniere, Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Chris Kreider are going to need to find their games and quickly. In a short series you can not afford to get off to a slow start. Also even with Igor Shesterkin listed as “day to day” for right now, Lundqvist showed that he is still more than capable to be able to carry the burden for this team in the playoffs as long as there’s some help in front of him. Facing a barrage of shots today and it appeared that Lundqvist was able to turn back time and give his team a chance, even one that they might not have deserved.
But games like today are games that we should all have expected to see after a four month pause and this team being extremely inexperienced in the postseason. Games like today will only serve as a valuable learning experience for the Blueshirts moving forward this year and for playoffs in the future.
TheFHN has partnered with FNX Fitness who “is committed to creating innovative supplements of the highest quality that provide focus for a productive morning, energy to thrive all day, performance supplements to reach new goals, unique sleep and recovery formulas to support any sport, and healthy supplements to support an active lifestyle for years to come.”
Listeners of theFHN and it’s family of podcasts can save 15% on your order by using promo code: thefhn
click the image above to check out all their supplements, gear and more.