April 11, 2010
The final seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs was determined with one position player against a goaltender, without a pass being attempted or a defenseman playing his position on the ice. We proudly snarl in the face of manufactured drama: The shootout sucks, and it sucks that what was a well-played and at times heart-stopping game between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers was determined with one.
That lament aside, some thoughts about the Flyers' 2-1 victory over the Rangers:
• That, in the end, goaltending put the Flyers in the playoffs. Which is really hard to wrap our brains around; how about you?
After Danny Briere(notes) went right and beat Lundqvist, Boucher stopped Erik Christensen(notes) by hanging with him as he cut left on the forehand. After Mike Richards(notes) was stopped, P.A. Parenteau(notes) of the Rangers improved to 3-for-3 in his NHL career with a floating shot over Boucher. Then Claude Giroux(notes) scored on laser through Lundqvist's five-hole from the slot, and Boucher closed the door: Not buying an Olli Jokinen(notes) deke, closing his five-hole and sending Philadelphia into the postseason.
• That a healthy Jeff Carter(notes) makes this Flyers team a bit more dangerous than some may anticipated they'd be. His steal in the neutral zone and backhand pass to Matt Carle(notes) in the slot on the power play tied the game for Philly at a time when it looked like Lundqvist would keep the door shut in a 46-save performance.
• That Olli Jokinen was a borderline bust for the Rangers. He had 15 points in 26 games, but only two points in April. He was scoreless and a minus-1 in the two games against Philadelphia, and then was unable to extend the shootout despite being 5-for-9 in the skills competition. Happy trails.
• That John Tortorella played the percentages, and lost.
In overtime, the Rangers looked like a team playing for the shootout because Hank > Boucher. We know how that turned out.
Then, in the shootout, he decided not to give Marian Gaborik(notes) (1 for 5 on the season) an opportunity despite, you know, being the sole reason offensively why the Rangers were playing for a berth on Sunday. Michael Russo of the Star Tribune noted that Gabby is a putrid 2-for-18 on shootouts while Jokinen's bee historically good. Still ... Jokinen, with the season on the line and based on numbers, is such a coolly corporate-like decision. The Dolans probably loved it.
• That this loss for the Rangers will lead to calls for Tortorella to go, which shouldn't happen, and Glen Sather to go, which just won't happen.
• That this win for the Flyers makes them a playoff team, which lessens the heat Paul Holmgren should be taking for the construction of this unbalanced, high-salaried team. They're dangerous, but will go as far as the goaltending will take them -- as good as the forwards looked at times today (18 shots in the first period, for example).