The defense pairings remained the same. Safe to assume Girardi will play if he can go.
The Rangers played a solid game last night, but weren’t able to hold on to their 1-0 lead in the third period, giving up a pair of goals in relatively quick goals, blowing their 1-0 lead in the process. An empty net goal made the final score 3-1 in what was probably one of the worst third periods we’ve seen from the Rangers in a while. In addition to giving up the goals, they couldn’t generate anything offensively for most of the period, as the Isles shut it down with a 1-4 forecheck.
I think the flow of the game changed when the refs didn’t allow Dylan McIlrath and Matt Martin to fight at the end of the second period. McIlrath came out aggressive in the third and took a penalty that eventually led to the game winner, and that was all she wrote from there. In the end, three minutes killed the Rangers. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
Tonight is another big four-point swing game for the Rangers, as they travel to Brooklyn to take on the Islanders. The last time these two teams played, the Rangers were mired in a slump but managed to grab a point in a shootout loss. This time around, the Isles are without two of their top defensemen in Johnny Boychuck and Travis Hamonic.
As for the Rangers, Dan Girardi is a game-time decision with a laceration on his hand. Dylan McIlrath will play if Girardi can’t go. They’ve been played better of late, and are 4-2-1 in their seven games since Washington embarrassed them in December. Process is getting better on the ice, even if there are still roster decision questions made nightly.
Corey Pronman, one of the best in evaluating prospects, released his updated top-50 prospects, and Pavel Buchnevich sits at #7 on the list, up seven spots from last year. Buchnevich was taken by the Rangers in the third round of the 2013 draft, and has put together a marvelous age-19 season in the KHL. His line of 12-19-31 in 47 games is the best age-19 season since Vladimir Tarasenko and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
The best part about the review is this line:
He could take a top-nine NHL shift right away starting next season.
That bodes well for the Rangers, who are in desperate need of a scoring forward and shooter to be a permanent staple in future lineups. There are high hopes for the kid, and he is probably the most hyped prospect in New York in a long time. He may not make it to the Rangers this year, but he’s expected to come to North America next season and compete for a roster spot with the Rangers.
If you’re looking for that skilled, home-grown player, Buchnevich is it.
Two questions for this week’s mailbag. As always, submit your questions using the mailbag widget on the right.
Hawkeye asks: We have heard talk about how stubborn AV is, and how he is playing favorites by never critiquing Glass, Girardi, and Staal. How much do our assistant coaches play in this? What are Scott and Ulf doing that hasn’t improved the Rangers play during this season? Can they be held responsible as well?
The assistant coaches play a large role in roster decisions as well, but ultimately the buck stops with Alain Vigneault. It’s why he’s the subject of most of the criticism. AV also doesn’t have history on his side, as one of the main concerns that led to his termination in Vancouver was his inability to move on from the declining play of veterans.
Per the Rangers’ Twitter account, defenseman Dan Girardi will be a game time decision. Girardi suffered a lacerated hand in Monday’s win over the Bruins, missing the second half of the game. If Girardi can’t go, Dylan McIlrath will play for the first time since December 22 (six games).
When the season started, many anticipated that J.T. Miller would be third in the pecking order behind Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes. Certainly a solid player, but by no means someone that the Rangers should be counting on daily. He needed to take the next step, but was really looking at a third line role. Forty-two games into the season, and Miller is very clearly having the best season of that trio.
For starters, he leads all three in goal (8), assists (12), and points (20). He’s also the overall team leader in CF% at 50.06%, the only Rangers forward above 50% for the season. But it goes beyond the raw numbers, he’s playing a better all around game, not just with the puck. He’s better in his own end, making smarter passes, is more engaged, and making smarter plays getting to the net and getting the puck to the net.
The Rangers overcame a rough second period in which they were completely outplayed by the Bruins, giving up a lot of shots and a goal against, and managed to grab a late victory at The Garden. Jesper Fast deflected a shot by Keith Yandle with 1:42 left in the third period to seal the deal for the Rangers in their 2-1 win.
Things looked bleak for the Rangers, who were simply not playing well at all to start the game. However they woke up in the third period, getting a goal on their first shift of the period from Derick Brassard before Fast’s winner late. Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves, outdueling Tuukka Rask, who made 29 saves.
The game itself was rather boring, with both teams limiting controlled zone entries and forcing a lot of dump and chase hockey. In games like these, you hope for sustained pressure when it counts, and the Rangers got that. Not the prettiest win, but sometimes you just need the two points for confidence reasons.
After an exciting comeback that was quickly followed by a crushing defeat, the Rangers are back in action tonight against the Bruins. The Bruins are barely holding on to a playoff spot right now and are dealing with an injury to David Krejci that seriously guts their center depth. But the Bruins are never truly out of any game with Tuukka Rask in net.
This is another test for the Rangers in their toughest stretch of schedule to date. They are playing much better lately and starting to do more of the right things on the ice. They only have a .500 record to show for it of late, but that’s an improvement over their horrid December. As the process improves, results will come.
Over the weekend, news broke that Keith Yandle has put off extension talks with the Rangers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Yandle’s minutes since coming to New York have been minimal. He’s been relegated to third pairing and second powerplay time, after playing 20 minutes a night in Arizona. You can make the case that the Rangers have a deeper defense than Arizona, which is true, but you cannot defend playing inferior players over Yandle on a nightly basis, especially when you consider the cost to acquire him.
Yandle cost the Rangers Anthony Duclair, a first round pick, a second round pick, and John Moore. Moore was included to make room for Yandle, and the first/second round picks are the cost of doing business in the NHL. The biggest piece was Duclair, who is having a great year in Arizona with a line of 12-11-23 thus far. He was a first round talent that fell to the third round, and the Rangers got 18 games and one-and-a-half seasons of a misused Yandle for him. Horrible asset management. And that’s not even the crux of the issue.