Any comfort the Rangers had in their second place standing in the Metro has completely disappeared. The Rangers couldn’t light the lamp against a third string goalie in Darcy Kuemper (who has been solid as a 23-year-old in the AHL, for what it’s worth), and dropped their second in a row and fifth (fourth in regulation) of seven this month. Before we blame the Ryan Callahan/Martin St. Louis swap, let’s remember that the Rangers went 2-0-1 following the trade before these two losses.
Cam Talbot played a solid game, as per usual. The defense wasn’t as bad as it was against Carolina, but turnovers by Marc Staal and Rick Nash/John Moore led to both of Minnesota’s goals. The Rangers also took three lazy stick penalties (two hookings and a tripping). It was a better showing than the debacle in Carolina, but it isn’t good enough to weather the storm that is the Metro Division playoff race.
On to the goals:
Wild 1, Rangers 0
John Moore made a little backhand pass behind the net to Nash with Kyle Brodziak pressuring him. Nash couldn’t handle the pass, and Brodziak was able to swipe the puck away from him to the slot. Nino Niederreiter simply one-timed the puck right past Talbot, who stood no chance.
Rangers 1, Wild 1
Wild 2, Rangers 1
Staal turned the puck over in the defensive zone to Zack Parise, something you never want to do. Parise got the puck to Mikael Granlund, who carried the puck to the slot and tried to stuff it past Talbot. He was stopped, as was Jason Pominville on the rebound. But no one picked up (or tied up) Parise, who put home the third try for the eventual winner. I know that Dave Maloney said on the broadcast that this goal was on Stepan for not getting the puck deep, which is absolutely correct, but I think the main issue was the Staal turnover to Parise.
In terms of 5v5 play (the chart above is at all strengths), there wasn’t much of a difference in shot attempts in this game. This is a bit misleading though, as the Rangers gained a lot of ground after Minnesota took a 2-1 lead. The Wild registered just FOUR Fenwick events for the remainder of the game. The Rangers registered 19, with two on the powerplay. Before the Wild took the lead, they held a 27-18 Fenwick event (shot attempt) lead on the Rangers. That is not the way to win games.
Win Expectancy Chart (NEW FEATURE!):
The win expectancy chart is a new feature at Extra Skater. It’s a bit raw at the moment, factoring in home ice, score, and time remaining, but it’s still a great start to getting us towards the WPA charts that are available for baseball. The home team starts with a slight advantage, and each goal –depending on the time it was scored– gives the scoring team an additional 25% chance of winning (rough estimate). Here, the first Minnesota goal gave them an additional 20.3% chance of winning. The Rangers gained that back (21.5%) with their goal. The Parise goal gave the Wild an additional 24.5% chance of winning, and an overall swing of 49% swing in favor.
The Rangers again did not play up to their potential, and gave away a winnable game to –in my opinion– an inferior opponent. That cushion for second place is gone, as is their comfy 85% chance of making the playoffs. The loss tonight dropped their chances to 70% (a 7% drop tonight), per Sports Club Stats. The Rangers don’t have many games against playoff teams remaining, but they need to start getting points. Perhaps, more importantly, they need to remember what they did in January.