The season ended much as it began, with uncertainty.
The Rangers came out in Game 7 with a strong effort led by Sean Avery who exemplified everything that heart and soul is about in the game of hockey, but the team couldn't finish to get ahead after scoring the first goal and dominating the first period.
A flukey goal late in the first period and a one-shot effort by New York in the third sealed the deal for Washington who will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the next round.
Henrik Lundqvist rebounded nicely with some spectacular saves, but in the end his arch-nemesis "high-and-to-the-glove-side" reared it's ugly head as Sergei Federov launched a lethal wrist shot into the top corner.
Michal Rozsival showed exceptional fight as well, coming back after suffering two knee tweaks.
Even Wade Redden, though on for the final goal, had a stand out night and was steady in his own end.
But there is no such thing as moral victory and had the Rangers put forth this kind of effort in the previous two games, they may not have been in this mess.
The questions that critics had going into the series were valid: the powerplay, lack of scoring, and penalties. The Rangers were guilty on all accounts.
Make no mistake, this series was not lost tonight. This series was lost at Madison Square Garden.
No heart. No soul. No character. No loyalty to the fans.
There will be a lot of hindsight in the coming months of the offseason, but the coaching staff made several major flaws after winning Game 4.
Benching Avery in the most important game of the season was plain wrong. Head Coach John Tortorella's actions during Game 5 with the Washington fans have been well documented and he let the organization down regardless of who he was defending.
Colton Orr earned the right to play the last couple games after a season of hard work, not Aaron Voros, and his grit was missed.
Management should have never called the Hartford coaching staff to be behind the bench for Game 6 when former Assistant-turned-video analyst Mike Pelino, who has coached this group for nearly four seasons, was sitting in the press box.
Finally, the system failed.
Say what you will, but defensive hockey always wins and had the Rangers kept to the system that made them successful since the lockout, they would still be playing.
Of course, playing Monday quarterback is easy, but the success that Tortorella had in Tampa Bay was built around a roster of top-offensive talent. This Rangers group is the furthest thing from it.
Scott Gomez and Markus Naslund are not Martin St. Louis and Vinny LeCavalier.
The lack of a true sniper made certain players try and play outside themselves and the late-season transition to such a drastically different system yielded more disconnect than results.
Nik Zherdev, who led the team in scoring much of the season, saw less and less ice time under the new regime and seemed disinterested, angered, and frsutrated.
Not excusing professionalism, but a happy Zherdev scores goals. An unhappy one sits on the bench.
New York panicked and was short-sighted in their lost faith of former Head Coach Tom Renney. They were short-sighted in their non-signings of Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan. They were short-sighted in their signings of both Rozsival and Redden to major contracts.
With those factors, the Rangers lacked leadership and the captain (or any veterans) could not deliver.
Chris Drury, though playing through immense pain, was a disappointment. There was no rallying-cry over the past three games. No energy. A lifeless fade into summer.
Former Captain, and Assistant Captain, Brian Leetch was an exceptional athlete, but was never comfortable with the "C." Drury has shown similar discomfort.
So Dubi will have postgame coverage over at BB+ and when the emotions settle a bit we'll cover the season's farewell as well as the usual Season Review, Look Ahead, and Draft Preview.
The Rangers are done, but Blueshirt Bulletin is not. Thanks for staying tuned this season as the fun is only getting started...