After the promising start to the season (10-2-1), the Rangers were never able to regain their form after a 3-1 loss to Buffalo early on, where, for the 1st time at that point in the season, they were systematically shut down and, in their defeat, gave a blue print for the rest of the league on how to defend them with success. The Rangers simply didn't have enough offensive firepower and talent to overcome.
Not being able to establish a formidable power play also haunted the Rangers all season long. Only Columbus had a worse power play during the regular season. Sadly, the Rangers were never able to find a working system between 2 head coaches despite having an abundance of talent and experience to work with. They lacked a PP QB; someone who wanted the puck and to take charge (and we paid Wade Redden 6.5 mil for that title). They lacked the desire to get shots on net, where garbage goals live. And, when they did get shots on net they always seemed out of position for rebounds, either being too deep behind the goal line or not close enough to the net.
One of the biggest disappointments all season long was the enigmatic season of Nikolai Zherdev. The 23 yr old outcast of the Columbus Blue Jackets was brought in to be somewhat of a replacement offensively for the departed Jaromir Jagr for not only this season, but beyond as well. The Rangers brass thought a change of scenery could revitalize him. However, bringing him in to a defense-first system ultimately stymied his offensive ability ands was never able to combine a conscious defensive effort with his offensive potential. He ended the regular season with a troubling 58 points (tied for the team lead...really?) and 0 points and a -3 in the post-season while not cashing in on bountiful scoring chances he did have. Zherdev is a RFA this offseason and the Rangers have a big dilemma on their hands; re-sign him in hopes he rebounds to a better season, or let him walk? Personally, I'd let him walk, he doesn't seem to fit into Tortorella's system.
New York has a lot of decisions to make this offseason on who stays, who goes, and who to bring in. Glen Sather has crippled the Rangers with virtually no cap room maneuverability with big-time contracts (43 mil committed to 11 players) and with 11 FA's to negotiate with. Suffice to say, the Rangers will once again have a much different look to them going into next season. We'll see what Glen Sather is made of; his job might start to depend on it.
Until next time and next season...