The Goal Breakdown: Penguins at Rangers

Not a great start for The King

Ranger fans left The Garden disappointed tonight, as the Blueshirts dropped their home opener to the Penguins, in particularly brutal fashion, 6-3.  In a game we saw The King pulled in the second period, Rick Nash’s first Ranger goal, and continued sloppy, disjointed play, the good guys fell to 0-2-0 on the young season.  Let’s break down the goals…

Penguins 1, Rangers 0:  Only seconds after Aaron Asham kicked the game off with a solid tilt with Tanner Glass, Brad Richards took an undisciplined interference penalty just :37 into the game.  On the ensuing Pittsburgh powerplay, after some pressure, Marc Staal failed to the clear the zone as his attempt was picked off by Kris Letang.  The Pens continued to move the puck and eventually caught the Rangers running around.  James Neal was left alone in the slot, and he rifled a shot low to the glove side and past Lundqvist.  There may have been a small screen there, but I think Hank will want that one back.

Penguins 1, Rangers 1:  Around the nine minute mark, the Rangers were starting to buzz offensively.  An aggressive forecheck lead to a Simon Despres penalty for holding.  On the faceoff, Brandon Sutter took a penalty for playing the puck with his glove.  Apparently this is a new penalty this year.  Just ask Sam, he’ll tell you all about it.  This lead to a full two minute 5-on-3 for the Rangers.  The Pens decided to play two forwards and one defenseman and collapse the front of the net.  This allowed the PP unit the opportunity to move the puck freely around the perimeter and seek openings down low.  After alternating the two tactics, Richards drifted down into the high slot and ripped a half slapper toward the net.  Tomas Vokoun was unable to control the rebound and Captain Cally banged in the rebound as it was bouncing for the equalizer. 

Penguins 2, Rangers 1:  This goal was all Stu Bickel.  First, Joe Vitale beat him along to the wall to sneak in for an off-angle shot on Lundqvist.  Hank made the save but deposited a big, juicy rebound right in front of the net.  As Bickel was following up on the missed check on Vitale, he got pulled in below the goal line on Vitale’s chance and missed the trailing Tyler Kennedy who promptly knocked home the rebound.

Penguins 3, Rangers 1:  Bad luck here, Rangers lose the defensive zone draw as Pitt finds an open Matt Niskanen at the point.  The puck was bouncing on him a bit as he took an innocent looking wrist shot.  The puck hit Dan Girardi’s skate on the way in and re-directed it enough to slip it past Hank through the five hole.

Penguins 4, Rangers 1:  At 8:03 of the middle frame, Michael Del Zotto was called for a somewhat suspect slashing penalty.  On the Penguin’s powerplay, they established fairly strong pressure in the offensive zone, which left the Rangers desperate for a change.  The Rangers finally cleared the puck and bolted for the bench.  The puck didn’t get as deep as they would have liked, and James Neal was able to throw an absolutely beautiful, full length pass to the Ranger blue line.  From there, Chris Kunitz found Evgeni Malkin streaking into the zone behind the changing Blueshirts.  This lead to a two on one low in the zone, and Malkin found Pascal Dupuis for an easy tip in.  That was it for Lundqvist.

Penguins 5, Rangers 1:  The Pens increased their lead after Lundqvist’s exit.  A strong forecheck found the Penguins applying continued offensive pressure.  When the puck moved to Malkin along the far wall, Brian Boyle completely missed his assignment and was pulled into the far corner.  Malkin found James Neal wide open in the slot.  He ripped a shot through the five-hole on Marty Biron and the Penguins were in the driver’s seat.

Penguins 5, Rangers 2:  The Rangers started showing some signs of life toward the middle of the third period.  Brad Richards seemingly traversed the entire width of the ice as he entered the zone, which allowed Michael Del Zotto to enter the zone as a trailer, and end up down low with Richie at the point.  Richards slid the puck down the near side wall to Del Zotto, and tick-tac-toe to Taylor Pyatt for a nice tip in and his first Ranger goal.

Penguins 5, Rangers 3:  A little past the thirteen minute mark, the Penguins found themselves on the powerplay once again.  The PK unit was able to clear the puck and the Pens went for a change.  Malkin’s pass was intercepted by Stepan and the Rangers were off on a mini-breakaway/2-on-0 with Rick Nash.  As the Pittsburgh defenders bore down on Stepan, he slid the puck to his right to Nash who cut to the front of the net around a sprawling Sidney Crosby/Thomas Vokoun and into the back of the net.  Absolute beauty.  Exactly the type of goal Nash was brought here to score.

Penguins 6, Rangers 3:  With Biron pulled for an extra attacker, Cally attempted a centering pass which was picked off by Kris Letang.  Easy empty netter.  Goodnight.

Random Thoughts

1. I didn’t get to watch the game last night, but from what I’ve heard about it, combined with this game, Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t have his legs under him completely yet.  Half a season of not playing will do that.  He needs ice time and reps, but he will be back to form in no time.  For the record, as awesome as that glove save was in Boston, I think it was a goal.

2.  Stu Bickel was absolutely dreadful tonight.  It seemed like every time I saw him on the ice he was making a mistake.

3.  Tomas Vokoun played pretty well.  He weathered the Rangers offensive flurrys well, and though he had a little rebound issue tonight, he played more than well enough for Pittsburgh to grab the two points.  It’s weird because he is usually terrible, so that’s frustrating.

4. Marty Biron played well in relief of Hank.

5.  Stepan had stone hands tonight.  He had to pass the puck about 3 feet to Nash on his goal, so I don’t think that remedies his incredible poor puck handling most of the evening.

6.  While the result is far from ideal, I saw some real offensive potential in this group.  They need to shake the rust off and regain the discipline and organization that was such a strength for them last season.  However, I saw a lot of diversity in the attack during the first and third periods when they were able to generate serious pressure.  The locations of attack weren’t predictable and they were able to get shots off from varied areas of the ice.

7.  Rick Nash is a beast.  His on ice presence and command of the puck is noticeable every time he is out there.  He creates offense from all types of situations and protects the puck incredibly well, which lead to quality offensive chances all night.  By far the Rangers best player, and I’m seeing a huge year for him.

8.  Vicious hit (but completely legal) by Brooks Orpik on Chris Krieder.  Gotta keep your head up when crossing the tracks like that.  Hope he’s ok.  With all the concussion issues the league has dealt with the past couple years, its tough to know the consequences of a hit like that at this point.

The Rangers are off until Wednesday night when Boston comes to town for the back half of the home-and-home.  While 0-2 is not where this team wants to be, this isn’t the end of the world.  They need to get their act together quickly, though.

13 Responses to “The Goal Breakdown: Penguins at Rangers”

  1. rickyrants13 says:

    I thought that hit was questionable. Not dirty But def the kind of hits the NHL is trying to do away with no?

    And dont worry folks its only one game ooops I mean two.

  2. VinceR says:

    Too much ugly tonight but a lot of optimistic things happened tonight, at least on offense. They were generating a lot of quality opportunities that will be capitalized on once the rust is gone (and this didn’t seem like the finishing problem that we had last year).

    Oddly enough Asham made himself look like a good depth pickup as we seemed to be creating opportunities on all lines, and when he was on the ice he seemed to be in the middle of a lot of it. The fight was good, but I really don’t care too much about that, other than someone else who can fight that isn’t Bickel.

    Speaking of which, I wouldn’t mind seeing Gilroy unless they think he is even more of a D liability. I would have to think he couldn’t be much worse, is most likely less of a liability, and the offensive upside can bring something.

    Rough night for Henke, but I think we are seeing rust . He will have to get his legs under him soon as he will need to be in form on some of these back to backs. I really don’t think he played too bad last night (for someone stepping into the rink). He looked like he was playing in slightly melted ice tonight (which given the way the puck was acting near the beginning of the game, may have been true). I couldn’t really see too much of him in the first period as he was on the opposite side of the ice and I haven’t watched the replay yet.

    Overall I am with Spozo’s 5 game before panic theory. I wouldn’t want to be 0-5 then, but I don’t think it’s panic territory if we start to gel by then. I think just getting out the rust on D will do the trick, along with STAYING OUT OF THE DAMN BOX!

  3. BobM says:

    1)The Rangers have not played a physical game in either two

    2)The speed of Kriedder and Haglin has not been a factor

    3)Gabby has not handled the puck well

    4)Stall looks lost

    5)Girardi is not playing his best

    6)Stupid penalties

    7)You cannot ride your goalie game in and game out

    8)Rick Nash is the only consistent player. He heads straight to the net

    9)If you are in the slot and pass to your wing instead of shoot, automatic $1,000 fine. I have been watching the Rangers try this for decades. It is simple math. There is more net to shoot at when you are facing the net then on the sides. Forget about the tic-tac-toe passing, the more passes the more chances of losing the puck. Shoot the puck Barry…

    10)Ugly goals count too. Keep shooting.

  4. The Suit says:

    The Rangers are starting this season much like they did last year. I’m not worried, they will turn it around. Hold fast.

  5. pal says:

    Didn’t get to watch the last period, only the horrifyingly bad first two. Most frustrating thing was that the Rangers were not hitting anyone. Rangers have biggest team they ever had – I don’t believe we have one player under 6 foot tall. So dammit, hit those sob’s, hit any guy on the boards with the puck, make the other guys fear getting pounded. We didn’t do it at all, which made the Pens’ skating circles around us even more embarrassing.
    But not panicing yet.
    Agree with BobM – I can’t stand watching players make passes when they are 2 to 5 feet directly in front of the goal, ie. Stepan vs. Boston.
    And Hageline is particularly terrible so far. Time for him to cut that ridiculous long hair.

  6. Jim says:

    I think if this happens in January in a ‘real’ season it’s called a slump. No need to panic, Ranger fans. I will say that they aren’t playing the same physical style that was so successful for the past few seasons.

  7. Walt says:

    Over all, the team is playing poorly, but Hank made a comment that he isn’t following the puck well. If that is the case, we will continue to be in deep doo doo!

    The season is only two games old, it’s nowhere near time to panic. Put Gabby back to his normal side, move Kreider to the second line, and Hags to the third. Agree 100% with PAL’s remark, hit anything in sight. Make these guys pay to carry the puck, and have them looking over their shoulders to see who will pound them next!

    The ship will be corrected soon, and Tort’s will have these guys ready for the next game.

  8. ranger17 says:

    Hate to say this , but the Pens played a great road game give them credit . Other then Nash and Pyatt , nobody else showed up tonight . See where we sit after 10 games , all we need to do is make it to the dance as the Kings did last year . Kreider falls down a lot when hit ,either giving one or taking one needs some wgt training .

  9. rocketroy says:

    Lets Acknowlege The Obvious…At least (2) Teams we will be fighting down the Stretch, the Bruins & Penguins, are twice the Teams than we are, absolutely no doubt about it…We have too much mediocrity on Lines 3 & 4….I said before game # 1, that King Henrik had to be as good, most likely better, for us to make a run in the East…HEH TORTS…What did we work on during our training camp..????We are horrible in every aspect of Ice Hockey….HEH GLEN…We cannot wait till trade deadline to start fixing this team.
    JUST SAYING!!!! RocketRoy-Ohio

    • Spozo says:

      I would love to know what anyone can do with a 5 day training camp and zero preseason.

      • Spozo says:

        And trade deadline is when we can no longer make trades. I don’t know how getting to the point will help us much.

  10. rickyrants13 says:

    Everyone keeps saying what could we do in five days. Hell just look at the other teams. What did they do to look so good?

    And hell what we are going thru right now is the same thing we went thru all of last year So dont think we will be fixing it anytime soon.

    You can not fix Faceoffs, Penalties, Powerplays during the season

    • rocketroy says:

      HEH rickyrants13….There are TOO Many Ranger Faithful with Blinders on…Great Point…All 30 teams had exactly 5 days to prepare for 1st game…Pretty Apparent to me that Torts & Sullivan did not have this team READY..I was really hoping Torts would add (2) new assistants, at least (1) for special teams, as I am convinced that neither Torts or Sullivan know how to run a power play.
      JUST SAYING!! RocketRoy-Ohio