In every playoff series, there are surprises and disappointments. It’s just how it is. However, here are three (two players, one team) that really stood out in the last two weeks. Patrick, Bryan and I debate who the biggest disappointment was in round one.
Marian Gaborik By Ryan Porth
If Marian Gaborik was not a disappointment in the first round, I don’t know what you consider a disappointment.
Under John Tortorella, goal-scoring for the New York Rangers has always been a bugaboo. Sometimes they’ll score six or seven goals and look like world-beaters. On the contrary, the Blueshirts will go through long periods of time where they cannot buy a goal. In their first round series against Washington, it was more of the latter.
That’s where Gaborik comes in. When you look up and down the Rangers roster, the 29-year-old Slovak is the only pure goal-scorer donning the blue, red and white. He scored 42 goals in 76 games a year ago and was paid big money to put the puck in the net.
In the postseason, Gaborik capped off his substandard season (22 goals in 62 games) by contributing just two points in five games. He scored once and it was in a losing effort – because of his overtime gaffe in Game 4.
In that game, the Rangers held a 3-0 lead after two periods, only to see it disappear in the third period. In double overtime, Henrik Lundqvist was trying to cover the puck and get a whistle. Gaborik – Lundqvist’s teammate, I must remind you – had other ideas. He poked the puck away from his all-world goaltender, trying to get it to the corner. The puck rather ended up on the stick of Jason Chimera, who had a wide-open net to score the game-winner and give the Capitals a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Gaborik’s blunder overshadowed the fact that he had scored earlier in the game. In Games 1 and 2, the Rangers scored a grand total of one goal. Their star winger was nowhere to be found; and when he did have a scoring chance, he wore out the logo on Caps goaltender Michal Neuvirth’s chest.
New York had a real chance to beat Washington in Game 4, which would have made things interesting. Gaborik blew it in overtime, highlighting a disappointing series for the inconsistent goal-scorer.
Phoenix Coyotes By Bryan Reynolds
It may seem wrong, unfair, or piling on to call the Phoenix Coyotes the biggest disappointment of the first round. Before everyone starts labeling me a cruel individual, let me explain.
I am not disappointed by the team, nor by where they play. I love the Yotes. Well, as much as anyone not from the area can. I wanted them to win desperately, to the tune of picking them in every playoff pool I am in. I put every ounce of faith in this team and what they stand for. I put my bandwagon fandom on the line, and my disdain for the Red Wings didn’t hurt either.
Then they got swept. Swept. Not a single victory, not one. Nothing. The Wings absolutely steamrolled them, and on top of that, the Wings’ fans added salt to the wound as they literally beat Coyotes fans up in their own arena. The jokes flew on Twitter about the team moving to Winnipeg and all heck broke loose. All because the team on the ice got beat.
You have to be proud of any team that makes the playoffs. Being from Minnesota, I know just how difficult it is to get into the dance. The disappointment is not in the level of play, it is not in getting beat. No, the disappointment does not come in the “he disappeared” style that you see play out across the blogosphere when a team is eliminated.
To be clear, my disappointment with the Coyotes is purely from the “damn I wanted you win, boys,” and you didn’t even give us one measly victory to hold on to. They simply rolled over and left us all to wonder if it was the last time we would ever see them play.
That, my friends, is disappointment.
Scott Gomez By Patrick Hoffman
When Montreal Canadiens forward Scott Gomez burst onto the NHL Playoff scene in the 1999-2000 season as a rookie with the New Jersey Devils, he was a solid playoff performer in putting up 10 points en route to his first Stanley Cup.
Gomez would then go on to have several other solid years in the postseason with point productions of 14 (2001), 12 (2003), 6 (2004), 9 (2006), 14 (2007), 11 (2008), 5 (2009) and 14 (2010), showing that he could perform during the most important part of the year.
In the first round against the Boston Bruins this year, Gomez was simply dreadful. He picked up just four assists and was a minus-6, showing that he was not getting it done at either end of the ice.
Things started off okay for the 31-year-old NHL veteran when he picked up two assists in Game 1. He was skating and moving the puck with some confidence and it showed in setting up his teammate Brian Gionta for both goals as Gomez knew how to get the puck to the player he once starred with in New Jersey.
After Game 1, however, Gomez disappeared despite getting a good amount of ice time. Gomez was a minus player in four of the last six games and was only able to must up two more assists for the rest of the series.
Not only was Gomez a minus player, but he could not put the puck in the net. Gomez did not register a shot on goal in Games 1 or 2 and finished the series with 21 shots on goal in the next five games and was not able to put one past Bruins netminder Tim Thomas.
This cannot happen to a player who is considered a veteran when it comes to the playoffs. Gomez is supposed to set up plays, go hard to the net and do everything he can to help his hockey club.
Gomez did not step up when he needed to. This is why he was my pick for most disappointing player in the first round.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.