The Whale that left town to go on a five game road trip left a loser to Providence 1-0 on April 7. They fought hard in their regular season home finale making the playoffs seemed a mere formality as they headed on this last road trip.
I had confidence they would make the playoffs and that was after changing my mind. I predicted they would not make the playoffs earlier in the season. I even had thought that maybe they win three out of their last five and push for sixth in the Eastern Conference, if Portland played poorly in their remaining games. Things turned out far worse than those scenarios.
The Whale beached it's season last night in Portland. They lost 5-1. Gernander replaced starting goalie Cam Talbot with rookie goalie Jason Missiaen just 16:53 into the first period.
Talbot had given up three goals on 16 shots. It didn't matter. Switching goalies appeared to be as effective as switching Captains on the Titanic after she hit the iceberg. It was the Whale's offense that would not be able to bail out the season. There is always plenty of stats that point to blame. There was plenty to blame in a five game losing streak. There were many poor +/- ratings to look through.
Mike Vernace and Dylan McIlrath were both a -2. The Rangers had J. T. Miller for awhile this season. In this five game road trip since returning with the Whale Miller has had two assists and was a +/- -4. He was a +/- -3 in this game along with teammate Benn Ferriero. The poor play of the Whale appeared to surprise everyone. They were playing three of the five games against teams that had nothing to play for. They just will have to wait now.
There aren't many teams that deserve to make the playoffs after going 0-5 to end the season. But Believe it or not the Whale can still make the playoffs. If Manchester and Providence beat Hershey and Norfolk in regulation the Whale will make the playoffs.
Its interesting to see where other players who have left the Whale/Rangers end up. Former Whale winger Chad Kolarik is going to finish in the top five in league scoring this year. Right behind Kolarik in the scoring standings is former Whale/Ranger Jonathen Audy-Marchessault. J.A.M. has 67 points and is only eight points in back of the leader. J.A.M. has put up over 135 points in his first two seasons.
J.A.M. is only playing up the road from Hartford. He plays in Springfield for the Falcons whom are going to make the playoffs. They will definitely be Whale fans buying tickets in Springfield. For the first time in a long time if you want to watch playoff hockey this year head north instead of south on I-91.