The place: The Wachovia Center (now the Wells Fargo Center) in Philadelphia, PA.
The score: 1-1
The time: The clock just hit 0:00 after a period of overtime.
The teams: The New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers
The scenario: Winner of the shootout secures the 8 spot in the NHL playoffs. The loser gets an early tee time at Pebble Beach.
The result: Daniel Briere is up 1st for the Flyers. He has a steady approach. Fakes stick side and goes glove side last second. Goal. 1st for the Rangers is Erik Christensen. He skates wide glove side then comes back in stick side. No move. Stuffed by Boucher’s right leg pad. No good. Round 2: Mike Richards takes a straight path to the net and snaps one off. He gets stoned by Lundqvist. No good. For the Rangers, P.A. Parenteau comes flying out of the box with great speed. He lifts one top shelf at the last second. Goal. After 2 rounds the score is 1-1. That’s it, one round to go for all the marbles. The Flyers send out Claude Giroux. He comes out slow and steady, quick move, boom 5-hole. Goal. The Rangers put the fate of their entire season in the hands of Olli Jokinen. It’s all down to this. Slow approach. Quick deke and an attempted 5-hole. Stuffed. Season over.
Even though the Rangers went on a great 7-1-2 stretch to close out the season, they could not get over one last hurdle and fell one game shy of the playoffs in heart-wrenching fashion.
The Flyers? They rallied to overcome a 3 game to 0 deficit against the Boston Bruins and won 4 straight. From there they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals where they lost in 6 games to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Fast forward to today. The Rangers are in 7th place with 12 games left to play. The Buffalo Sabres are 2 points behind with 2 games in hand. In 9th, the Carolina Hurricanes are 4 points behind and have 1 game in hand. In their last 6 games, the Rangers are 3-3 including a tough 3-2 loss to the trailing Sabres and a crushing 7-0 victory over the 1st place Flyers. These last 6 games are a perfect microcosm of the entire Rangers’ season, bad at times, great at times, and overall just inconsistent. With the Sabres and Hurricanes creeping on the the Rangers and the New Jersey Devils on a tear recently, the Rangers need to turn inconsistency into consistency to avoid another late-season heartbreak and a possible riot by the Garden-faithful. With Amar’e and Carmelo ruling the hardwood and moving the Knicks to the forefront of MSG after a being an afterthought for a decade, the Rangers NEED a playoff birth and a respectable showing to at least stay relevant in the New York sports talk conversation.