The Rangers dropped their second straight game for the first time in a while, losing to the St. Louis Blues by a score of 2-1. This is not one of those games –like Tuesday night’s game– where the Rangers failed to show up. This was a very hard fought game where both teams had to fight for every inch of space out there. The Blue capitalized on a turnover and a powerplay, while the Rangers were only able to capitalize on one turnover.
Henrik Lundqvist was solid in net. Rick Nash played a strong game, notching a goal in his fourth straight contest. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a Ranger that really had a bad game. Sure, the Rangers lost, but they showed that their early season struggles against the cream of the crop in the Western Conference are a thing of the past. They can skate with these teams.
On to the goals:
Blues 1, Rangers 0
Dan Girardi made an ill-advised pass across the blue line in the offensive zone that Alex Steen easily picked off, sending the Blues on the offensive. Eventually Jaden Schwartz wound up with the puck in the corner as Steen was creeping out from behind the net uncovered. Schwartz hit Steen with the pass (well, hit his skate) before Chris Kreider could get there for the coverage. The deflected puck slid through Hank for the goal.
Rangers 1, Blues 1
Jay Bouwmeester had his outlet pass picked off by Ryan McDonagh in the neutral zone, putting the Rangers in a position to transition. McDonagh and Derek Stepan worked the puck behind the net as Nash moved to the open ice at the top of the circle. Stepan hit Nash for the one-timer before Vladimir Sobotka could get there.
Blues 2, Rangers 1
This was just one of those good fundamental goals. The Blues won the face off to begin their powerplay, and got Hank’s feet moving by moving the play to the near side of the ice. Eventually Kevin Shattenkirk let go a blast from the point with David Backes screening Hank in front (note the position of the defenseman: No longer fronting). Hockey happens. Hank couldn’t see the shot.
The Rangers had the puck possession edge in this game at even strength (52% Corsi, 56% Fenwick), at 5v5 close (53.5% Corsi, 57% Fenwick), and at 5v5 tied (64% Corsi, 64% Fenwick). Unfortunately puck possession doesn’t always lead to wins, just ask the Devils. It was one of those games where they couldn’t solve Jaroslav Halak more than once, and the Blues made it very difficult to get quality scoring chances.
It would have been nice to see the Rangers win, but you can’t really be upset with the effort last night. They played hard, they just got beat by a solid team that is headed to the playoffs. Even with the two losses in a row, the Rangers are 7-4-1 in January with six games (Devils, Islanders x 2, Colorado, Edmonton, Pittsburgh) left until the Olympic break. All of those games are winnable games, and only the Penguins are a playoff team. They got beat last night, but they certainly weren’t sloppy like they were against the Islanders.