Well, the Rangers lost last night. Not only did they lose, but they looked awful in the process. They were rusty, sluggish, sloppy, and looked like they needed another week of training camp. They took bad penalties, and missed defensive zone coverages more often than I can count. The only good thing is that Henrik Lundqvist looked to be in midseason form.
But around the interwebs, there was much panic about that game. After all, the Rangers did not look like a team that should be competing for a Stanley Cup. In a short season, the Rangers cannot afford to lose any games, so this one loss in the season opener crippled their playoff chances. That’s what a lot of people are talking about.
Part of that sentiment is true: The Rangers can ill afford to have an extended losing streak to start the season. Instead of the 82 game marathon, we have a 48 game hybrid between a sprint and a marathon. Teams can overcome three game losing streaks over the course of an 82 game season. It is much more difficult to make up those points when the season is almost cut in half.
There were some positives last night, so let’s focus on those heading into tonight’s game against the Penguins:
- Lundqvist looked phenomenal.
- The powerplay had great puck movement, although they lacked shots on net.
- The penalty kill was pretty solid as well.
- Yes, Marc Staal missed his assignment on the first goal, and Anton Stralman’s bad pass led to the second goal, but the defense played a decent game considering they were playing a man down (Stu Bickel played five minutes).
- Ryan Callahan showed, in a small sample size, that he can hold his own on powerplay face offs. He won two of three.
- We saw the save of the year in the first game of the year: