This post is part of Rangers Day on PHT…
The New York Rangers made the playoffs for a sixth straight time in 2015-16, but they didn’t last long once they got there.
Just five games against the Penguins and it was over. New York was soundly defeated by the eventual champs, outscored by a combined margin of 21 to 10.
Looking back, the season had actually started extremely well for the Blueshirts. They were 16-3-2 after 21 games, their best start in franchise history. However, they were not winning the possession battle, and that caught up to them eventually. The rest of the way, they went 30-24-7, barely holding on for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Following their elimination by Pittsburgh, head coach Alain Vigneault talked about his team’s struggles.
“The puck-moving ability we’ve shown in the past, for whatever reason, was not as good and it affected a lot of our game,” he said.
That statement seemed particularly troublesome given the likelihood the Rangers would lose two of their puck-movers on the back end. Keith Yandle‘s rights were eventually traded to Florida, where the Panthers thought so highly of the 29-year-old defenseman that they signed him to a massive seven-year, $44.45 million contract. Dan Boyle has not officially retired yet, but said he was leaning towards it.
The Rangers did not make a big splash in free agency. Instead, they signed Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, and Adam Clendening to short-term deals. The first two will add speed up front, but it remains to be seen if they’ll add goals. The latter is an offensive defenseman, but nowhere near as proven as Yandle or Boyle.
A few weeks after free agency, the Rangers traded one of their leading scorers, Derick Brassard, to Ottawa, for younger center Mika Zibanejad. That move might’ve been a good one for the future, but the Sens felt they got the better player in the here and now.
The good news for the Rangers is they still have Henrik Lundqvist in goal. Granted, he struggled down the stretch and into the postseason, but he’s more than earned the benefit of the doubt that he can bounce back, even at 34 years of age. The King hasn’t finished with a save percentage lower than .920 since 2008-09.
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