As is customary around these parts, when a team is eliminated, everyone has their own post-postseason analysis and grades. So here goes nothing from the Blueshirt Bulletin front:
Henrik Lundqvist - B+
As most suspected, "The King" was the story for the Rangers. Their wins came because of him and when he faltered, the team failed. A strong effort in the first four games, but a brutal fifth and sixth game kept him and the team from advancing. A nice rebound performance in Game 7 to keep his grade high.
Steve Valliquette - A
Back-up goaltenders have one of two scenarios in the playoffs: fill in when absolutely necessary while providing good leadership on the bench OR jump in and be ready to take the reigns if the starter doesn't pan out (see Varlamov). "Valley" fits the first role and filled in nicely when called on in Game 5 and 6. His new contract is continued confidence in the Swedish netminder.
Chris Drury - C+
The Captain played broken, which is admirable, but in the end couldn't rally his troops. The first captain in Rangers history to have his team blow a 3 - 1 series lead, he didn't show the poise or energy necessary to provide an example on the ice. Had a good offensive stretch to make the playoffs, but couldn't do much once getting injured early in the series.
Scott Gomez - C+
Gomez showed good passion through the series, but couldn't contribute much offensively and did exhibit frustration in taking some poor penalties. The lack of a sniper on his line limits his skating ability and vision. Took responsibility, but couldn't make much of opportunities.
Brandon Dubinsky - B+
Has really begun coming into his own. While his points were not there as everyone had hoped, he provided a positive spark and was very quick to the puck and aggressive on the forecheck. Is still working through some rookie mistakes, but stood tall and wasn't afraid to make himself known.
Blair Betts - B
Worked very hard throughout the playoffs and played a vital role both in faceoffs and penalty killing. Despite not playing in Game 7, his consistent two-way play was important and may have been underestimated in the losses.
Artem Anisimov - Inc.
Good potential in filling in for Betts, but still has some refining to do.
Ryan Callahan - A
Callahan has become the heart and soul of the New York Rangers. Quick to every puck, hard-hitting, he had a stellar playoff series. Tortorella used Callahan frequently and he continued to improve with the added ice time. His scoring touch began to come around despite being a bit stymied later in the series.
Lauri Korpikoski - C+
The rookie winger has bounced through lines a bit since Tortorella took over as Head Coach. While his skating was solid and he improved his play in his own zone during the playoffs, he didn't put it all together. This scorer needs to score and was very quiet during the playoffs.
Markus Naslund - C+
Having since annoucned his retirement, Naslund played hard, but couldn't keep up during the playoffs. The up-tempo style the Rangers have transitioned to was beyond the Swedish winger and ultimately limited his scoring ability and leadership. Couldn't find his hands and seemed to struggle, a sad end to a good career.
Nik Zherdev - C
Disappeared during the playoffs despite a decent regular season. The enigmatic winger has endless potential, but several benchings and low minutes under Tortorella sent the winger into a tailspin and never allowed him to gain any offensive momentum. Work ethic was questionable as well.
>Colton Orr - B
He is asked to play a limited role and he plays it. Strong on the puck and hardworking, but fell out of favor later in the series for Aaron Voros. When he did play, he skated hard and was conscious of both his penalties and defensive zone play.
Aaron Voros - C
Having not played much in the final 20 games due to an overall lack of work ethic, the large winger couldn't regain any form in the handful of playoff games. Skated hard, but looked lost and uncomfortable on the ice.
Freddy Sjostrom - B
Leading the penalty killing duties with Betts, Sjostrom showed throughout the playoffs that he was not just a fourth line winger and penalty killer. Had good speed and effort on the ice. Didn't put the puck in, which he has shown the ability to do, but did create some offensive pressure.
Nik Antropov - B
A strong trade deadline acquisition, Antropov held high expectations going into the playoffs. However, he was not able to continue the offensive touch that made him popular on Broadway. Was hard on the boards and had decent puck possession, but needed more scoring punch. Effort was there.
Sean Avery - B+
The Grate One returned with hard-nosed play, heart, and effort. A strong playoff showing despite some poor penalties. Was unfairly benched, though maintained his composure despite being taunted and tempted by Washington. Played his role well and was a major factor in the Rangers' victories.
Marc Staal - C+
Many thought this would be Staal's coming-out party as he would have the chance to match against Ovechkin. However, he was much out of place throughout the series and looked a stride slow in most games. Assistant Coach Jim Schoenfeld used Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden more often against AO because Staal struggled keeping up. His young age and inexperience showed more than most expected.
Dan Girardi - B -
Partially a product of Staal's misfortunes, Girardi looked equally lost at times. Though he continued to be strong on the puck and away from it, his positioning was questionable and he didn't control the puck well.
Michal Rozsival - B
Was relied on heavily and though he still continued to struggle breaking out of his own zone, was better defensively and showed more poise in the offensive zone. Had to match up against Ovechkin and did a decent job throughout most of the series. Improved his play from the regular season.
Wade Redden - B+
May have been the best Rangers defenseman in the playoffs. Showed confidence with and without the puck and moved the play up ice like many hoped he would do during the regular season. Was able to use his vision and contribute offensively. Handled the big guns from Washington well and didn't shy from physical play.
>Paul Mara - C+
When will Mara learn not to take one hand off his stick when going into the boards? Penalties hurt the Rangers and while his physical play was good, he lost his positioning down low throughout the series and struggled to keep up with the speedy Capitals.
Derek Morris - C
Came on strong after the trade deadline, but fizzled in the playoffs. Was uncomfortable with the puck and wasn't contributing on the offensive blueline as he had late in the regular season. Tried to be physical, but seemed out of position to often to be effective.
COACHING - D
Many may consider this too harsh as it's easy to blame the coaches when it's the players who perform. However, this group just never gained any traction or control over the series despite having a 3 - 1 lead. Players were used improperly, offensive players were benched, and they conducted themselves poorly.
Tortorella should have had more composure and class on the bench and never been suspended. Then, former Assistant Mike Pelino should have been brought down on the bench while Tortorella served his suspension, not the Hartford Wolf Pack coaching staff. Line changes were crude, players were confused, and the Rangers looked awful on home ice.
So, take your stabs at these. Nothing is set in stone and a lot of these grades could have gone either way, but it's the first step in evaluating which direction the Rangers need to take in the off-season.
Next up, The Rangers Regular Season Review...