Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center was by far the worst of the playoffs. The Rangers were not engaged mentally from the start of the game and never established any sort of surge beyond the first period. The irony in this is that the team was coming immediately off a thrilling 3-2 comeback overtime victory in Game 5, which basically put this series in the palm of their hands. Yet they still managed to appear disinterested in Game 6, and now will have to face elimination in a seventh game on Saturday night.
But, maybe to our own fault, we should've seen this coming.
See the Rangers, now having played 13 postseason contests through just two rounds, have maintained somewhat of a pattern throughout those games. Every uplifting, motivational win seems to be followed up by disappointment in the following game. This began in the Ottawa series last month, where we saw a very similar win-loss pattern commence for the Rangers.
Game 1: Exciting 4-2 win in front of home fans.
Game 2: 3-2 overtime loss in which Sens came out and set the tone early, never looking back.
Game 3: Rangers earn hard fought 1-0 shutout win in Ottawa.
Game 4: Rangers blow a 2-0 lead, lose in overtime.
Game 5: A rare back-to-back disappointing loss for the Rangers
Games 6/7: Two huge wins to salvage season and move on to semifinals.
Game 1: Again, Rangers rock MSG with two unanswered goals in the third period to win, 3-1.
Game 2: Rangers take two bad penalties in third period, Caps score on one and Rangers never answer. Washington wins, 3-2.
Game 3: The triple overtime win for the Rangers on Marian Gaborik's one-timer in period six.
Game 4: An ugly 3-2 loss that the Capitals dominated from start to finish.
Game 5: Rangers tie game with 6.6 seconds left, win 1:35 into overtime in most exciting game of the playoffs.
Game 6: Rangers' worst performance of the postseason, lose 2-1 to Caps.
Game 7: n/a
See the pattern?
If the Rangers follow suit here, you fill in the blank for Saturday's Game 7.
It's become quite obvious that the team loses focus after an emotional victory, only to come out and, for lack of a better term, soil the bed in the very next game. This would also explain why they then come back with a rigorous rebound effort following an upsetting loss - it takes a good old whooping to get them back on track mentally.
While the leadership on the team, in addition to the coaching staff, should be better preparing the club immediately after wins in the playoffs, they continuously fail to do so and now the Rangers find themselves in a tough position for Saturday. This series should've been over last night, but the team couldn't resist from falling into the same trap.
And I realize that obviously the opponent is also going to come out strong after losing as well, which factors into this all. But to barely even show up like last night? That is unacceptable.
Let's hope the pattern continues, though, at least for now.