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NHL

Oh God, Ryan Strome, Oh No

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 09: Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 and Zach Bogosian #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning make a save against Ryan Strome #16 of the New York Rangers during the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on June 09, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that I have become The Joker. Ryan Strome missing a wide-open net late in a tie game has Jokerfied me. We live in a society, you say? No. We live in a world where Ryan Strome did this, which I have watched dozens of times since last night and counting.

Tampa would score twice in the final two minutes of Thursday’s Game 5 for a 3-1 win and a 3-2 series lead, and if the series ends like it probably will, there will be any number of moments the Rangers can point to as where it all went sideways. This is, intellectually, a useless exercise: the Lightning are the better team, perhaps significantly, so on some level the Rangers lost the moment they weren’t the Lightning. But also, if you simply must pick a specific moment in time, they squandered a simultaneous 2-0 game lead and 2-0 series lead; that’s a bigger biff than any single play.

But also also: It was right there. The defenseman was on his ass. The goalie was on the wrong side of the crease. The net was as open and convex and deserted as the ruins of a Roman amphitheater, and as inviting as well-worn ass grooves in your favorite couch. And he just missed.

It happens! Strome was moving the wrong way, and took an off-balance swipe with little time, to react and whiffed. It happens to the best of ’em. (It happens to Ryan Strome a lot.) I like Strome! Probably more than most other Rangers fans do, even before last night. He’s a solid 2C in a league without all that many of those, one who makes things happen and makes his linemates better and matches well with all sorts of play styles. I hope he makes lots of money as a free agent this summer, and wouldn’t be particularly upset if he makes it from the Rangers.

But I already know I will be watching this clip throughout the offseason. I know that doesn’t speak well of my impulse control, but I would be seeing it frequently and unprompted on the inside of my skull even if I didn’t seek it out. Sports suck ass.