As expected, the Rangers could not keep up with the Lightning last night, as the Bolts broke away in the third, handing the Rangers a 6-3 loss. The Rangers actually skated with the Bolts for a bit, but the skill difference was on display in the form of penalties taken. Sometimes stick penalties are a product of laziness, but in this case it was a product of the Bolts being that much better than the Rangers all night long.
Steven Stamkos scored twice on the powerplay and added a third at even strength, all three were absolute rockets that were just perfect shots. Kevin Hayes scored twice for the Rangers, padding that trade value.
This isn’t one of those games that you analyze every little bit. The Bolts are a Cup contender and my pick to come out of the East. The Rangers held their own for a little bit, but there wasn’t much else we should have expected. Stress free hockey, I guess.
Rangers 1, Bolts 0
There was no real issue with the coverage or anything special about this goal. Kevin Hayes threw it in front, it bounced off Ryan McDonagh’s skate and into the net. Hockey happens.
Bolts 1, Rangers 1
Another goal that doesn’t really need a breakdown. The Lightning, like the Caps, set up for one-timers from the top of the circle. Victor Hedman set up Steven Stamkos who was almost at the boards when he rifled it over Lundqvist. Perfect shot.
Rangers 2, Bolts 1
This is what happens when the forecheck is effective. Kevin Hayes is the first man in, and he knows they outnumber the Bolts, who were a little lazy. Cedric Paquette didn’t get any help, Hayes pressured him, forced the turnover, and then because of the numbers Jimmy Vesey was wide open for a chance. Domingue got the first one, but Hayes was there for the rebound.
Bolts 2, Rangers 2
Another powerplay. Another goal from that spot for Stamkos. This was another corner picked, under the crossbar stick side. Just a perfect shot. All while falling.’
Bolts 3, Rangers 2
This is one Hank wants back. McDonagh was open, sure, but that’s not exactly a rocket.
Bolts 4, Rangers 2
Anthony Cerelli snuck in and caught Fredrik Claesson off guard, stealing the puck from him. He then cut through low and around Hank to tuck it behind him.
Bolts 5, Rangers 2
Marc Staal was in pressing, which is expected when down two. Braydon Coburn was able to fight off the forecheck and get it by the forwards and Staal, which led to an odd-man rush for the bolts. Staal lost his footing on the back check, which left Brett Howden back on the 3-on-2. Ondrej Palat found Stamkos in the high slot for another rocket that Hank only got half of.
Bolts 5, Rangers 3
Stamkos was pressured into a turnover at the blue line by Filip Chytil, who turned the rush with Jesper Fast. Chytil just showed tremendous patience to wait out the snow angel on defense and thread a perfect pass to Fast for the finisher.
I asked on Twitter for a gif of that goal, but MSG killed GIF making on social media for…reasons? I don’t know. That seems incredibly short sighted to me. Leave it to the Rangers (and the NHL) to not understand how to build the sport, the team, and the fan base. Frustrating.
Bolts 6, Rangers 3
Cirelli empty netter.
The Lightning got a lot of shots, they just owned the puck all game. Color is almost irrelevant at this point, just look at the volume. This is at even strength too. Just a clinic. Dave Maloney on the postgame said it best though, you need to look at where both teams are in their development. TB is competing for a Cup, the Rangers are rebuilding. This was expected.
What a weird schedule this is. The Rangers played last Sunday, had five days off, then played Saturday and last night. Now they are off until Friday. It comes at a good time, as the injuries to Mats Zuccarello and Pavel Buchnevich mean fewer games missed. That said, two games in ten days is not a lot of hockey. Plus they have three days off for Christmas.