Despite heading into their second-round series as underdogs (again), the Ottawa Senators eliminated the Rangers in six games and will be moving on to the Eastern Conference Final.
Many people, myself included, believed that the Rangers were the better team and could easily beat the Sens, but there were a number of reasons why that didn't happen.
Here are a handful of them.
Where to even begin with this guy?
It's no surprise that the defenseman was the biggest factor for the Senators in this series. He's their best player by a mile and they're a completely different team when he's on the ice.
What is suprising, however, is just how strong he's playing with two fractures in his foot. Despite the injury, it's hard to argue against Karlsson being the best player in the world right now. Frankly, it's absurd.
Karlsson finished with seven points (two goals, five assists) in the six games, but it's tough to fully illustrate his impact just in point production.
While Karlsson was on the ice at 5-on-5 during this series, the Senators scored 12 goals and let up six. Without Karlsson on the ice at 5-on-5, they scored 10 goals and let up 18.
Karlsson had less than 25 minutes of ice time just twice in this series -- in Games 3 and 4, both of which were losses for the Senators. Karlsson missed the entire third period of Game 4 with a lower-body injury, but his average TOI during the other five games was nearly 30 minutes per game. He played 6:27 of the final 8 minutes as the Senators closed out the series in Game 6.
Without Karlsson's otherworldly efforts throughout these playoffs, it's highly unlikely the Senators are even sniffing the Eastern Conference Finals.
Basically we should just award Erik Karlsson the Conn Smythe right now. Nobody is going to be more valuable to his team this postseason.
Brad PennerBrad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Who could have guessed that the Rangers' suspect defense would prove to be a fatal flaw in the postseason? Well, pretty much anyone paying attention, I would assume.
New York has made deep playoff runs despite its defense in recent years, but usually it's been on the back of Henrik Lundqvist bailing out the guys in front of him.
Hank did his best but he wasn't able to pull that off this year.
The Rangers' pairing of Marc Staal and Nick Holden was their biggest liability and they often looked lost defensively. They struggled to suppress shots and get the puck out of their own end.
To Holden's credit, he was able to contribute a bit on the offensive end, but it wasn't enough to cancel out the issues in his own end.
It's tough to win in the playoffs without a good defensive corps, which is why the Rangers are going home empty-handed yet again.
On the flip side, defense is the Senators' main focus and they focus on frustrating teams with the trap.
However, the Rangers scored four or more times in four of the six games this series, so it's not like they were stymied. They just shot themselves in the foot too many times.
Adam HungerAdam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Plain and simple: Alain Vigneault failed his team in this series.
The Rangers are (were?) a better team than the Senators and this series should have been theirs for the taking, but Vigneault made a number of questionable decisions that didn't put his squad in the best position to win.
And so now they're going home.
First and foremost, the Staal/Holden pair. It was clear that it wasn't working out, yet he kept trotting them out and getting burned. The Rangers don't have many good options on defense, but something needed to be done there.
One of the glaring mistakes from Vigneault in this series was putting Staal on the ice during a pivotal late-game moment of a crucial Game 5. He blew his assignment and the Senators tied the game, forcing and eventually winning in overtime.
It seems that Vigneault values his "defensive defensemen" over the more offensively-gifted guys, even when those "defensive defenseman" kind of suck on defense. It's bizarre.
Vigneault also put too much faith in his underperforming forwards, such as Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes.
Those guys were key contributors for a potent Rangers offense during the regular season, but their production wasn't there in the playoffs and they kept getting ice time over guys who were producing.
You shouldn't be afraid of dropping guys in the lineup or sitting them completely, even if it's only to get them going and create a spark. (Look at what Barry Trotz did with Alex Ovechkin and Andre Burakovsky.)
Instead, Vigneault sat on his hands and hoped his guys would find their game on their own. They didn't.
Brad PennerBrad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The power play
Neither team's power play was good in this series. New York's was a little bit better than Ottawa, as the Rangers went 2 for 24 (8.3 percent) while the Senators went 1 for 18 (5.6 percent).
But the Rangers' game is their offense and they simply did not take advantage of the opportunities that were given to them in this series.
During the regular season, the Rangers finished with the league's 11th best power play (20.2 percent) while the Senators had the league's 9th worst penalty kill. It seemed like special teams could have been a huge swing factor in this series.
Instead, the Rangers' power play guys went cold at a very inopportune time. Derek Stepan, who finished the regular season as the team's leader in power play points, had just a single point on the man-advantage in the playoffs.
Had their PP unit performed a little closer to its capabilities, we could have seen a much different outcome in this series.
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Just kidding. He played 4:15 total in this series and contributed nothing more than a "fight" (aka jumping Tanner Glass in Game 5) so can we please stop pretending like he made a difference here?