For some odd reason, the Rangers can’t beat the Devils this season. The first time around, the Rangers were embarrassed 4-0 by their rivals from across the river. This time around the Rangers played better and dominated the puck possession game, but defensive miscues and a pair of lazy plays doomed the club. Although they lost, the Rangers are off two separate three game winning streaks, with a loss to the Ducks (and now the Devils) ending both streaks. New York had a whopping 17% Fenwick advantage this game, but Martin Brodeur played a pretty solid game, outdueling Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist didn’t have a poor game, but the second Ryan Carter goal is one he wants back (more on that after the jump). Losses happen sometimes. They are still 6-2 over the last 8 games, and playing consistent hockey. On to the goals: Devils 1, Rangers 0
Andy Greene made a great leaping play to keep the offensive zone, and quickly got the puck to Ryan Carter in the high slot. Carter stickhandled around John Moore, and flicked a shot on net from the goal line. The puck appeared to deflect off J.T. Miller’s skate, and trickle into the net. Rangers 1, Devils 1
Chris Kreider forced a neutral zone turnover, and quickly got the puck to Mats Zuccarello on the off wing. Zucc gained the offensive zone, and brought the puck behind the net, where Eric Gelinas followed him (that’s a no-no). Steve Bernier appeared to bite too much on Zuccarello behind the net, leaving Marc Staal wide open at the point (sound familiar?). Zucc made a perfect pass right to Staal’s wheelhouse, and he got all of it to beat Marty short side. There were a few screens, but it looked like Marty was a bit off the angle there as well, the puck hit the middle of the net. Could just be an optical illusion though, I’m not used to the new nets yet. Devils 2, Rangers 1
Ryan McDonagh made a diving effort to keep the offensive zone, but it failed. Carl Hagelin was beat to the loose puck by Carter (!!), and Carter’s backhand shot surprised Hank through the wickets. Dan Girardi left his feet again to play defense, and while it’s tough to really nail Girardi for something, I really hate every time he does that. It looks like Hagelin wasn’t skating either when Carter collected the puck. Hank may want this goal back, but a skating Hagelin and an on-his-feet Girardi could have prevented this as well. Rangers 2, Devils 2
After an OZ face off win, the Rangers maintained pressure and wound up with a few solid chances. The Devils play a low zone collapse, which gave the Rangers point men some space to work with. New York worked the weakness in the system and generated some chances off the point shot, and it worked when Girardi’s wrister from the point deflected off Adam Larsson’s leg and past Marty. Devils 3, Rangers 2
The Devils came in on an innocent 2 on 2 rush with Travis Zajac and Dainius Zubrus against Girardi and McDonagh. After criss-crossing, Zubrus put a shot on net that was stopped, and both Girardi and McDonagh went to Zajac cutting through the crease for the rebound. Problem was neither accounted for Zubrus, who banged home the rebound. Fenwick Chart:
As mentioned above, the Rangers dominated the puck possession game after the second period. This seems to be a trend with this team: Weather the storm in the first and then dominate the second and the third. It’s not a bad strategy to have, but it would be nice to see the blue line above the red line for the entire game. After a 6-2 run, the Rangers have three games coming up against playoff bound teams (Montreal, LA Kings, Boston). These three games will be a true test for New York, as they really beat up on the bottom feeders in this 6-2 run. Other than a win against Pittsburgh, the Rangers didn’t beat a team that is headed to the playoffs. Montreal, Los Angeles, and Boston will show us where this team really is.