Eleven Rangers made their postseason debuts while getting swept by the Hurricanes.
Any positive experience to come from it will have to be taken after the disappointment begins to wear away.
“As I sit here right now, I don’t view this as a good experience in any way, shape or form,” coach David Quinn said after Tuesday’s 4-1 loss in Game 3 ended the series. “Maybe when the dust settles and the emotions subside, you look back at this season and the last two or three weeks we’ve been together and think we continued to move forward as an organization. But that’s certainly not how I feel today.”
The playoffs may not have been the top focus of the franchise heading into the season last October, but once the Rangers got that chance — with some help from their young players developing along the way — they arrived in Toronto wanting to win, not just gain experience.
Instead, they were quickly sent packing after struggling to establish their game.
“Had a close-up view of what it takes to win at this level,” Chris Kreider said. “It only gets harder from here on out. It’s a great learning experience, but at the end of the day, pretty disappointing to peter out like that.”
The Rangers’ potent power-play unit never arrived in Toronto.
After an 0-for-3 showing Tuesday night, the Rangers finished the series 1-for-14 on the man advantage, with the lone exception coming on Artemi Panarin’s 5-on-3 goal in Game 2.
“We didn’t really do anything that we did before the break,” Mika Zibanejad said. “We were not supporting each other. We did everything opposite what we were doing all year. Just not good enough. We really needed the power play to help us out in these kinds of game. … It was bad.”
Brendan Lemieux made his delayed postseason debut Tuesday and made sure the Hurricanes knew it.
The physical winger brought the energy from the start and also had some of the Rangers’ best scoring chances during a key sequence late in the second period, though he couldn’t find a finishing touch.
Lemieux watched the first two games of the series while serving a two-game suspension for an illegal elbow in the final game of the regular season in March.
Quinn shook up the lines to start the game, bumping Kreider to the second line while matching Panarin with Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich on the top line. Filip Chytil also went from center to right wing on the third line with Brett Howden serving as the pivot between Lemieux and Chytil.
Though his 129-game playoff starting streak was ended, Henrik Lundqvist was still active, backing up Igor Shesterkin while Alexandar Georgiev was a healthy scratch.
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