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Rangers fight to force OT, but lose to Maple Leafs

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The Rangers showed some guts last night, scoring a pair of third period short handed goals to force overtime in a game where they definitely came out a little flat following the Ryan Callahan trade. The pair of non-penalty shot goals given up were due to blown coverages though, and those are things the Rangers have avoided during their January/February run.

Jonathan Bernier stopped 35 Ranger shots, and before everyone throws the backup moniker at him, let’s remember he has a .925 SV% this year. The Rangers didn’t play poorly, but they had a few lapses that cost them the game. They also took four penalties (one penalty shot), which didn’t help matters for a team that needed two points. The Rangers are still oh-for-March.

On to the goals (no pictures today, sorry about that):

Leafs 1, Rangers 0

Tyler Bozak with the penalty shot. No real breakdown here.

Leafs 2, Rangers 0

The Rangers, specifically Anton Stralman and Marc Staal, had a pretty bad shift and were stuck in their zone for a while. They coughed up the puck a few times, allowing Toronto to keep the pressure. Eventually Stralman gave the puck away to Nikolai Kulemin behind the net. Kulemin drew three Rangers to him following the turnover, including Staal. Nazek Kadri just sat at the backdoor waiting for either a pass and a rebound, and was able to bang home the rebound he wanted after Henrik Lundqvist stopped the Kulemin shot. Staal was out of position –Kadri was his man– but the Stralman turnover was brutal too.

Rangers 1, Leafs 2

Brian Boyle started this with a good forecheck on Cody Franson while on the penalty kill, forcing a turnover in the Leafs’ zone. Dominic Moore took the puck in the corner, and his pass to Boyle in front wound up going through to Ryan McDonagh at the point. Looking to just kill more time, McDonagh flipped the puck to the corner, but Dion Phaneuf stuck his leg out and accidentally kicked it into his own net, giving the Rangers a shorthanded goal.

Rangers 2, Leafs 2

On the same penalty kill, Dom Moore picked off an awful pass from Phil Kessel, and raced down with Derek Stepan on a 2-on-1 break. Phaneuf over-committed Stepan, leaving the pass to Moore wide open. Moore roofed it on Bernier to tie the game and get the Rangers a point.

Leafs 3, Rangers 2

Both McDonagh and Dan Girardi followed Kessel behind the net after he gained the zone on a 2-on-3 rush. With both defensemen behind the net, Bozak simply went to the front of the net, where he was ignored by Rick Nash. Kessel hit him with the pass, and Hank stood no chance. Game over.

Fenwick Chart:

Courtesy of Extra Skater

Courtesy of Extra Skater

In typical Leafs fashion, the Rangers crushed them in the puck possession game. However, the Leafs –again in Leafs fashion– found a way to win another one-goal game, something they’ve done a lot this season (I think they are 10-4 in those). You can tell that the Rangers started to click again after the first period, when the initial shock of playing without Cally settled in. After that, they held the Leafs to long stretches without Fenwick events, but the breakdowns were their eventual undoing.

The Rangers are now 0-2-1 in March and 1-2-1 since the Olympic break. Every point matters, so the positive from last night is that they clawed back to get a point against the Leafs. That said, they need wins. They need to collect two points against teams they are fighting for playoff spots. That’s three losses in a row and just one point. That won’t cut it in the stretch run.

27 Responses to “Rangers fight to force OT, but lose to Maple Leafs”

  1. supermaz says:

    Dave, your a Hank apologist. Rangers going nowhere unless he finds his game. You give him no fault on the third goal or his Marty Biron imitation on the penalty shot?

    • Justin says:

      Yikes supermaz, those two critiques are putting an unreasonably high level of expectation on your goaltender. Hank had NO chance at the 3rd goal, and penalty shots happen. It was a quick release that found a hole. Hank was no where near the problem in that game.

    • Dave says:

      Wow man. Two point blank shots and a penalty shot, and you’re blaming the goalie?

      • supermaz says:

        On the OT goal shouldn’t he have his stick there to help block a centering pass from behind the net? Of course Girardi should have done a better job taking the body there(we are paying him$5.5 million) and why is Lundqvist on his knees AGAIN.

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      That’s a tough shot to save. The shooter gets to whitin 10 feet and Rips a shot at the net. The goalie can’t cover the whole net. This game wasn’t his fault. When MSL and the team get a little more comfortable they’ll look pretty good. I would look forward to this game against Carolina.

  2. PAL says:

    It is pretty clear at this juncture how important Mats Zuccarello is to this team. They miss him badly.

    Pouliot + Broussiard + Dorsett <<<<<< P + B + Zucc

  3. JS says:

    That last goal was on Nash in more ways than one. He missed a chance to at least stick check, if not bump Kessel off the puck at center ice and then missed Bozak in front. This team needs and deserves much more from Nash.

  4. SalMerc says:

    Watched the game. Thought we played well, but not intense in spots. I zeroed in on Kessel; damn he can skate!

  5. Andres says:

    When zuc gets back, I really don’t see a spot for dorsett, he doesn’t appear to be ready and looks lost. Time to switch up the top two lines

    Nash-step-MSL
    Kreider-rich-hags ?
    See if MSL can get step and Nash going

  6. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Dave…I’ve got a general question here.

    Last night, our best line looked like MSL Richie and Hags for long stretches. We all know that Zucc Brass and Pouliot have been dangerous leading up to the Olympic break and we will look for that to continue. We also know that Nash Stepan and Kreider have underwhelmed of late and in order for us to become a real deal threat, they have to get going down the stretch.

    Now I hate when fans play armchair gm, due to the large number of absurd things that are said, but what do you think if this simple tweak:

    Hags and MSL are somewhat repetitive from a puck possession standpoint, in that they are both very good at creating time and space for teammates. Perhaps swapping Kreider and Hags would help get the Nash, Stepan combo going while also adding to the Richie MSL line’s finishing ability. Kreider is a finisher who hopefully would start to find twine more playing with MSL and Richards who both see the game better than most. Also, that line loses no speed replacing Hags with Kreider.

    Additionally, we all remember last year how good Hags looked with Nash. Their low zone cycle really dominated alot of defenses and created scoring chances. I think the Nash Stepan Hags line could do some good things for us and deserve a look if Nash Stepan Kreider continue to unimpress. The goal here is to help us finish more. Many times this year we’ve lost despite a very good fenwick event chart… I would like this to no longer be the case.

    Lastly, and unrelated…. I’m a bit concerned that this MSL acquisition may lead the Rangers brass to assess the Richards buyout differently. Especially if the two of them play well to close this year out. Should I be scared that some short term success may keep us carrying some long term baggage? A post on this would be very appreciated if you or one of the guys think its good fodder for thought.

    Thanks and always a fan, Hatrick.

    • Dave says:

      Wouldn’t shock me to see that happen. Kreider-Stepan-Nash has been pretty bad, and you need a finisher on the Hagelin-Richards-MSL line.

      Hagelin-Stepan-Nash; Kreider-Richards-MSL seems more balanced on paper, but it needs to translate to on the ice.

    • Paco33 says:

      Well done! I logged on to ask the same question. I thought that was the best that Richards has looked in ages. The chemistry he has with MSL was obvious from the first shift. (Then again, it’s pretty clear that anyone whose game isn’t raised by playing with MSL has some issues.) We’ve been assuming that it was a no-brainer and that Sather would of course buyout Richards at the end of the season. Is the acquisition of MSL going to give Sather second thoughts about what we thought was the obvious move?

  7. ranger17 says:

    Agree with switching lines . most important is to switch Kreider and Nash away from each other .
    Hags-Step-Nash
    Kreider-BR-MSL
    Poliot-Brass-Zucc
    Boyle -Moore-Miller
    Carcillo and Dorsett haven’t touched anyone in a long time
    PP Units
    Zucc Brass Poliot BR McD
    MSL Kreider Step Nash G
    Kreider and Nash each need someone to get the puck for them . Stepan is way off this year , but if he starts to play any where he is capable of , that would be a start. Didn’t mind MSL BR & Hags last night . But we need Zucc MSL and Hags all on diff lines , and Nash and Kreider broken up .
    Even tho McD scored last night i thought it was one of is worst games this year.And Stralman is sleep walking for some reason

    • AD says:

      …very insightful, thank you. makes a ton of sense

      why can’t our coach see things this way?

      • Dave says:

        If I’ve said this once I’ve said it 1,000 times: Miller is not suited for the fourth line with the way AV deploys it. That line gets the DZ starts, and they need to be defensively responsible. Miller does not fit that mold.

    • Paco33 says:

      Actually, I think it may have been the worst game I’ve seen McD play.

      • Chris A says:

        I was thinking that too. He seemed to have a real struggle with Kessel. I can’t kill McD for that as Kessel is an amazing player.

      • flatbush says:

        He was late in the D zone all night. Caught flat footed a few times. People want to blame Girardi or that we had 2 D’s behind the net. First man takes body and second supports. Mac was late, Kessel makes a better play and Mac not in the lane to take the pass. Its a hockey play! Mac knows! Move on

  8. Chris F says:

    The game way too wide open last night. Rangers let Toronto fly through the neutral zone far too frequently and despite Toronto generously reciprocating the Rangers couldn’t finish.

    Nash had a wonderful backhand chance cutting through the crease with Bernier out of position and he missed the net. He must score there.

  9. Ray says:

    Maybe Lund

  10. Ray says:

    Maybe Lundqvist was okay last night, but most penalty shots fail and good goalies nullify miscues. And Hank was so bad in the first period against Boston that I knew the Rangers were beaten when the score was 1-0. He has been a great goalie and I expect he will be again. However, let’s be honest. Replace Talbot with an average backup and the 2013-14 Rangers are not even in the playoff conversation. Callahan is traded for draft picks, as are a few other players. IF the Rangers see the postseason, they can thank Talbot and Zuccarello, not Lundqvist and Nash. It is time for AV to handle his goaltenders properly. Hank shouldn’t start whenever he wants to. For now, Lundqvist should get at least a week off to recover from his brilliant performance in Sochi and then alternate mostly, while trying to go with the hot guy. Come playoff time, who knows. Dance with who brung ya means Talbot this year.

    • Leatherneckinlv says:

      I agree, I tremble thinking where we would be without Talbot’s achievements and stats…Talbot could easily be the shut out Leader with 4…lost shutouts in a sad way

  11. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Killer Instinct is missing from players such as Nash, He is an amazing player. I hope someone is coaching him with attitude. All those years in a losing situation with a ton of drama in Columbus may have softened his drive….he needs to think differently…with passion and fire

    Stepan is still learning….he is only 4 points shy of Richards….not bad at all…Stepan needs to learn agression…the “F you” I am better than you against the opposition. He will be a star soon.

    and finally as a team they need chutz pa…I am not Jewish so forgive the spelling. Last night though maybe because of the trades they did not show that. 4 point games need a heck of a lot more passion…even anger against those you are in a dog fight with

  12. Bob says:

    We need more new toys!

  13. jay silver says:

    MSL instinctively knows when to shoot, who is ready for a pass. Zucc is no MSL, but he has those attributes more than anyone else on this team. Can’t wait to see the two of them on the same PP unit.