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Uninspiring Rangers fall to Wild, now in need of wins

AP Photo/Jim Mone

AP Photo/Jim Mone

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

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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

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Derek Stepan simply used Chris Kreider’s screen to beat Kuemper on the powerplay. No issues here, goals happen.

Wild 2, Rangers 1

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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.

Fenwick Chart:

Courtesy of Extra Skater

Courtesy of Extra Skater

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!):

Courtesy of Extra Skater

Courtesy of Extra Skater

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.

13 Responses to “Uninspiring Rangers fall to Wild, now in need of wins”

  1. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    Time to panic? No. But it is very concerning that this team STILL cannot find the consistency needed to be a threat in the playoffs (and to make it to the playoffs).

    Bottomline: The big name players are not contributing on a consistent basis. How disappointing has Nash been? St. Louis has come along slower than I expected – we’re getting close to the point where he needs to start producing. Richards? I’m just not a fan (and I know he’s tied for the team lead in points). It looks like Stepan is coming around, but the Rangers need their top players to wake up.

    Too many bad giveaways/breakdowns in their own zone. That first goal was brutal. Bad decisions all around. That’s been the story lately.

    The team has found it’s old inconsistent ways from much of the season, and it’s coming at a bad time.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      ^Well said, RFiB. Agree in full.

      Good weekend to be up in Boston, eh?

      Shot in the dark here but are any of the bloggers here (Dave, Suit, etc) participating in the St Paddy’s day tournament in Stamford CT at the twin rinks?

      • Dave says:

        I am not, I’m traveling to New Mexico for work.

      • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

        It’s been interesting, it always is.

        Just an aside: It sucks living in Boston being a New York fan and seeing my teams not competing on the same level as every damn Boston team (with the exception of the Celtics – but who cares about the NBA). Watching the Bruins dominate nightly just makes my jealousy of their recent Stanley Cup greater. Boston has been riding on a championship cloud for the past 10 years, coinciding with my moving here. At least I have the New York Giants.

        Ok, rant over.

    • Dave says:

      For some reason this team shoots at an abysmal rate when the game is close. Working with George (Rangersmurf) to try and figure out why.

  2. Rod Gilbert1960 says:

    Thoughts from a Ranger fan of over 50 years.

    Nash / Stepan at Minus 5 last two games. Nash has been awful this season. He’s been skating with eggs in his pockets since his return from the concussion hit. Hardly worth almost $8 million of cap hit. He has only a couple of games mid season when he was auditioning for the Canadian Olympic Team where he flashed the strong moves to the net expected of a power forward. Otherwise he has been a “powerless forward” who appears at times to be disinterested. Blockbuster Trade possibility here?

    Perimeter shots from Nash and the Boys won’t cut it. Get some bodies to the Net. You know like the opponents do to the Rangers.

    The Staal / Stralman pairing have been equally awful. Poor decisions in the defensive zone, Botched assignments and generally poor play. Split them up now before they kill us. Then after the season jettison the guy who thinks he’s worth more than $3 million per season for the next three years (certainly Diaz can surpass that performance – McIlrath?) and move Staal to Carolina for a player and picks after the season. Goodbye!

    This team is woefully weak up the middle. Buy Stastny this off-season for a little more than Richards (buyout!!) money and move Stepan to RW where he’ll have fewer defensive responsibilities.

    Stastny, Brassard, #3 Center (JT Miller), D. Moore would be far more productive group of centers than the current roster group.

    Hagelin? No matter where they put him last night he still ends up minus 2 for the night. He’s so weak on the puck. Move him in a speed for size trade so that we might compete in this division.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      “and move Staal to Carolina for a player and picks after the season. Goodbye!”

      I don’t think this is cohesive with every other move we have made this year. Moving Del Zotto for Klein is forgoing any long term potential to plug a short term hole. Ditto sending Callahan and 2 picks for a 39 yr old (yet still game breaker talent) St Louis. So moving Staal, who would be our top pairing LD had it not been for McDiesel, for a player and picks is unlikely. Sather is thinning out our future pipeline to put a product on the ice that could win this year, next year, the year after. It all relates to Lundqvist’s age and guessing how long he will be this elite for. His best years will almost certainly be 35 and younger, so I’m sure Glen would like to keep Staal and his services for that time, unless he can replace with someone equally as capable.

      • SalMerc says:

        Wow – I am speechless. I think EVERYONE here is right on target.
        Some folks do not believe +/- is a good indicator, but we cannot afford our top line to be in the negative too many games. Our bottom pair is more expected, but since they do not play against the other teams top lines, then they should even out as well. Could be an interesting off-season if we get an early exit in the playoffs and Slats says bye-bye.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      I agree with some of what you said, but moving Stepan off center is not the right move. He’s one of the few playmakers playing well right now, has a bright future, and for the most part is defensively responsible.

      If you wanted to make the case that he’s not a #1, then you’d have a more valid argument.

      • Rod Gilbert1960 says:

        RFiB I just saw your earlier response. Don’t get me wrong. I think Step is a 25-30 goal 65-70 point scorer if you release him from the defensive responsibilities that an NHL center iceman has and just allow him more freedom to create from the RW. Hook up Step with Kreider and Stastny. WOW! Keep the Brassard, Pouliot, Zucc line together. I like the fourth line intact with Carcillo. Build a third line around JT Miller, St Louis and the $8 million dollar man (If we must). That would be a more powerful group than we have on the ice this year.

        I know the years that it takes to build an NHL defenseman. but I liked what I saw from Conor Allen. Perhaps he can step up next year. Maybe we break up the super shut down pairing and spread them out with other partners. McD with Diaz or McIlrath and Girardi with Conor Allen. That would make Staal expendable and Carolina would make a sweet trade partner.

  3. JerseyRanger says:

    This is an average team with a great goalie. When they play their best, they are a solid club that can beat any team on any given night. But they do not have the size or the players to compete with the big boys yet. If they get on a roll, they can win a round, maybe two in the playoffs, nothing more.

    If they stay mired inconsistency, and lack of effort, their goalie may get them to the playoffs but they won’t get past the first round.

    • Ray says:

      Not this year. The 2013-14 Rangers have an average goalie. The skaters are as good or better than the team of two years ago, but the goalie is not. In Sochi, we saw the Lundqvist of old and so it is reasonable to expect him to reappear in NY sooner or later.

  4. Ray says:

    I hope to see a shakeup. Bench Stralman as a wakeup call. Juggle lines for a few games to see what works – not just from game to game, but from period to period.