The series was notable for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the play of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Their star players simply weren’t good enough, especially Evgeni Malkin who went pointless throughout the round. He hasn’t scored in 14 games, in fact, and that’s a pretty big deal.
Sidney Crosby pulled himself together for four points in the series, including two goals, but he had to be disappointed in how things turned out. He looked downright human; the Rangers didn’t exactly struggle to contain him.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made the best of a bad situation and was arguably the best player on his team. He posted a 2.12 goals against average and a .927 save percentage, giving his team a chance to win every game. His play kept the games close, really close – no game in the series was decided by more than a one goal differential.
And the Penguins had injuries to contend with, too. Being without Kris Letang was always going to sting, plus having the likes of Beau Bennett, Derrick Pouliot and Christian Ehrhoff on the shelf doesn’t help.
In the end, the Rangers were just that much better.
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist was his usual stellar playoff self, posting a goals against average of 1.53 and a save percentage of .939. He saw a fair deal of rubber in the series with a 132 shots against, but he held the fort and shut down the Penguins’ big guns.
Derick Brassard came up with three goals in the series, including one on the power play. Rick Nash had four points, while the series-ending Hagelin had three points. New York’s attack was balanced and consistent, but they weren’t really able to take over games and they never blew out the opposition. Games were close, as noted, and they only scored more than two goals in one game.
The Rangers won all four of their games by a 2-1 final score, in fact, and that reveals a lot in terms of how difficult it actually was to put away the Penguins.
The Rangers will go on to face the winner of the New York Islanders/Washington Capitals series, while the Penguins will have to deal with “fans” and their calls to “blow things up” this summer. Maybe reactions will cool in the coming days, but one has to imagine it’s no fun to be part of that Pittsburgh locker room right now.