Boy, if there ever was a trap game, last night was it. The Rangers were coming in with two strong wins in their last two games and an opportunity to head to Minnesota on a three-game win streak. Instead, they played some pretty lazy hockey en route to a 3-1 loss to a Carolina Hurricanes team that is out of the playoff race.
The Rangers were doomed by their flat-footed skating, terrible passing, defensive breakdowns, and numerous turnovers. Henrik Lundqvist stood no chance on all three Carolina goals. Cam Ward had to make some good saves, but he wasn’t really tested much this game. This is one of those games where you would have preferred two points, but would have been happy with one. They got none.
On to the goals:
Canes 1, Rangers 0
Marc Staal was simply caught too high in the defensive zone, leaving Jordan Staal and Jiri Tlusty outnumbering Anton Stralman down low. Once Andrej Sekera got the puck past Staal, it was a two-on-one below the hash marks. Stralman snow-angled, failing to not only stop the pass, but failing to prevent Jordan from getting the puck to a high quality scoring area. You want Stralman to prevent one or the other there. Tlusty had an easy tap-in goal once the pass got through.
Rangers 1, Canes 1
John Moore made a nice outlet pass from the defensive zone to Benoit Pouliot at the offensive blue line. Pouliot chipped the puck into the zone, allowing Mats Zuccarello to collect the puck along the boards. Elias Lindholm was up high, and his job there was to monitor the play and cover the biggest threat up high. His choices were Moore at the point by the boards, or Kevin Klein cutting to the high slot. He chose Moore, and Zuccarello made a very difficult –but yet perfect– pass to hit Klein in the high slot. Klein’s shot beat Ward.
Canes 2, Rangers 1
This goal was just a disaster. Staal (Marc) pinched unsuccessfully, allowing a two-on-one for Staal (Jordan) and Tlusty. Stralman had to play catch-up to get back, and cut to Staal along the boards instead of playing the pass. Staal got the puck across to Tlusty and cut to the net. With Staal unable to get back and Stralman on the ice along the boards, Tlusty fed the puck back to Staal for the easy goal.
Canes 3, Rangers 1
Staal (Marc) again with two awful turnovers in the defensive zone. This time around, Eric Staal was able to collect the puck and get it to Jeff Skinner for a chance down low (with Stralman covering him). Hank made the initial save, but none of Staal (out of position), Zuccarello (watching), or Rick Nash (watching the play) covered Lindholm on the door step for the rebound goal.
I think the chart says it all here. The Rangers were very sloppy, and the Staal/Stralman duo got torched by the Canes all night long. The difference between Corsi/Fenwick percentages are interesting at even strength this game. The Rangers actually held a slight advantage with Corsi (50.5%-49.5%), but Carolina held the 52.9% Fenwick advantage. A lot of that has to do with the end of the game, when the game was technically even strength (4v4), but the Rangers pulled Hank for the extra attacker. There were a lot of Carolina blocked shots in that sequence.
The Rangers were a very sloppy and lazy team last night. There’s no other way to put it. They were given a gift of a game against Carolina, who is not very good, and blew the chance to come away with points and put some distance between them and the Flyers and Red Wings while keeping the Blue Jackets at bay. Instead, they head to Minnesota in need of two points to stay out of the mess that is the wild card race. The difference between last night and the loss against the Flyers was sloppy play. The Rangers played well and lost to Philly. They just didn’t show up last night."Rangers drop trap game in Carolina",