A little bit of a different approach tonight; breaking the game down by period. The Rangers dropped a decision to the Isles, 4-3 at the Coliseum having trailed by two twice in the game.
Simply put, the Rangers stunk out the Coliseum in the first period and were lucky to be just the odd goal down heading in to the first intermission. Some first period thoughts for your amusement:
- The more I see of Stu Bickel the less I see a future for him. His skating is poor, his fighting is often completely unnecessary, his positioning is erratic and he’s inherited the home run pass without inheriting the necessary passing ability. I fail to see what he brings to this team any longer. Wolski must really be in the dog house.
- A blind pass from Dubinsky into center ice almost led to a full breakaway for the Isles late on. It was possibly his biggest contribution of the first period. Tumbleweed….
- In the first half of the first period the Rangers were devoid of energy, lost almost every puck battle, struggled (once again) to control the puck offensively and created nothing.
- John Tavares is a tremendous hockey player. When you are playing against such a talented player you take away his space and not allow him to do whatever he wants with the puck. Tavares had time to pick up speed in the neutral zone, he had time to dish off the puck numerous occasions and each time: no Ranger close by. Epitomized the Rangers’ lethargic beginning.
- Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau really enjoy playing the Rangers.
- Unlike Bickel, I would like to see John Mitchell stick. He uses the puck well, can skate and seems to make things happen when he gets the opportunity. He’s a useful bottom six guy to have as he works hard and has some offensive ability.
- Don’t blame Biron on either first period Islander goal. The Rangers defending of Moulson and Tavares was borderline criminal on the first; while Parenteau had acres of space to unleash his shot on the second. If you wanted to nitpick perhaps Biron was a little too aggressive on the Parenteau goal. Other than that, he was square to the shooter and didn’t seem shaky.
- The Rangers Powerplay goal (the first against the Isles in 4 games this year): following a nice play from Mitchell, Staal simply threw it on net from a tight angle with the help of a screen. It wasn’t good goaltending but it was heads-up play from Staal to use the defenseman and sneak one past Nabakov short side.
The Rangers second was much like their first; Average at best to begin, got better as the period went on but throughout the period there were breakdowns that led to several quality chances for the Islanders. Second period thoughts:
- More often than not, the Rangers penalty kill continues to be good. First, their aggressive play doesn’t allow the Isles to settle in their zone and results in Anisimov getting a chance to go the other way. Defensively they gave Biron a clear view of any Isles shots and kept the Isles players to the outside, away from Biron.
- The Islanders however, scored on a powerplay following a shocking call on Michael Del Zotto. The call itself wasn’t shocking – it was correct – but it came directly after a blatant hooking penalty that somehow went unnoticed on Boyle, right in front of the referees.
- The goal itself was more poor coverage by the Rangers as Parenteau was completely unguarded at the back door to tap home for his second. Parenteau needs to buy Moulson a beer because it was great effort from Moulson that created the goal.
- The Rangers first real chance of the period came off a turnover in the Isles zone; following some quick, accurate passing Callahan got a good look and got a quality shot off but Nabakov’s positioning was excellent and he swallowed the puck off the slapshot.
- Evidence of speed kills: The Isles’ Grabner completely burned Stralman to get a breakaway on Biron, but Biron’s positioning and stick were perfect negating the chance.
- Rangers got back to within one as after an Islanders breakdown and a Marc Staal zone clear, Marian Gaborik found himself in on Nabakov. Great stick handling allowed Gaborik to go backhand on Nabakov and score easily. Gaborik’s first in 6 games.
- Sometimes it’s the small things that count: Huge credit to the captain for the way he got back and caught Okposo to negate a breakaway for the Isles. It’s the extra effort like that, that can win points, games and series’.
- Luck as Reward: While the Rangers tying goal went in via a deflection it was a result of good passing by the Rangers. Good entry to the zone and a good cross ice pass from Gaborik meant Stepan had space on the right and as he fed it across the crease it went in off Travis Hamonic. Lucky goal, good build up play.
- Like the first period, the Rangers got some momentum off their powerplay tally and began to put pressure on the Isles in their own zone. It’s amazing, yet painfully obvious, what kind of impact a competent powerplay can have on a game.
- The Rangers started the third period much better than they did the first two, as they forced numerous Islanders turnovers through strong puck pressure and much better back checking by the Rangers forwards.
- A glimpse: About half way in to the third period Richards burst past his man thanks to his acceleration and quick hands and threw it across the crease which caused Nabakov some difficulty. Richards needs to use his quickness in the offensive zone more and not worry about making the perfect play.
- Both teams played a tighter third period. Defenses on both sides were pinching less and both teams were (generally) doing a better job at keeping the opposition to the perimeter. The team’s played a more conservative period on the whole.
- Brandon Dubinsky got better as the game progressed. He made better decisions with the puck, carried the puck up the ice better and was stronger along the boards. He also showed much better patience to allow the play to develop before giving off the puck.
- The late call on Callahan tainted his overall game – he was great on the fore check and defensively reliable – but it was the right call.
- Both teams had powerplay’s late in the third and the Rangers had a few good chances on theirs. The best of the Rangers powerplay was the traffic they created in front of Nabakov as they looked for rebounds and screens. Anisimov had a great opportunity that resulted from multiple bodies being in and around the crease.
Yeah, my internet connection failed for almost the entire overtime period…… (Note: cannot wait to get my own laptop back from being repaired and can go back to my own net connection).
Following the OT period the teams went to the shootout and despite Gaborik scoring for the Rangers and Richards having the chance to win it, it went to four rounds where Moulson would score on Biron and Mitchell couldn’t tie it up to give the Islanders the extra point.
The Rangers played an mistake filled game and this was anything but a complete effort. The first two periods the Rangers came out slow and finished stronger. The third period both clubs played as if they wanted to secure a point. The Rangers, despite out shooting the Isles and despite scoring two on the powerplay, created very few quality chances and that will only raise the calls for the likes of Nash.
Rangers Players of the Game:
- Ryan Callahan (despite his penalty, a solid effort in all three zones, good physicality)
- Marian Gaborik (great finish, nice shootout goal, passing was crisp and he looked dangerous throughout
- Marc Staal (he’s beginning to be more decisive with the puck and looks to finally be shaking off the rust).