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Rangers Fall To Sabres 3-2

Any loss at this time of the year when all points are so tightly contested hurts, but this game has some extra sting to it.  Part of the sting is the fact we have seen this movie far too often in the past two months.  Rangers fall behind by two, rally to get within one, have countless chances to tie the game and “just run out of time.”  I am tired of talking about how hard they played and how close they came, at some point all loses are loses as there are no moral victory points in the standings, which got a lot worse for the Rangers tonight.

The overreactions are flying from everywhere about how the season is over and this team is worthless and if you believe that, then frankly just stay away for the rest of the year because we do not need you around.  This team lacks true talent, but you cannot question their heart and that is part of what makes them so frustrating right now because unlike past years where they would mail games in, they fight to stay in it and are coming up short.

Yes, the officiating was awful tonight.  Yes, the awful officiating led to goals for Buffalo and maybe stopped us from getting some with our power play actually looking good.  In the end though it doesn’t matter because they aren’t going to go back and undo it.  Have to move on and look to Thursday and beat the Wild at home.

Recap of the action after the jump:

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Game 65: Buffalo at Rangers

OPPONENT: Buffalo Sabres

2010-2011 RECORD: 29-25-7

2010-2011 LEADING SCORER: Thomas Vanek (23-29-52)

GOALIE: Ryan Miller (2.66 GAA, .914 SV%)

RANGERS LINES (ASSUMED):

Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Wojtek Wolski-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello
Vinny Prospal-Brian Boyle- Erik Christensen
Sean Avery-Kris Newbury -Brandon Prust

Ryan McDonagh -Dan Girardi
Matt Gilroy -Mike Sauer
Bryan McCabe -Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist
Cam Talbot

Scratched tonight: Derek Boogaard (concussion symptoms), Alex Frolov (knee), Chris Drury (knee), Marian Gaborik (concussion), Martin Biron (collarbone), Ruslan Fedotenko (shoulder) and Marc Staal (knee).

STATE OF THE BLUESHIRTS: The Rangers come into this crucial game against Buffalo needing to bounce back from a tough loss to Tampa and increase the gap between then and the charging Sabres.  Currently Buffalo is only five points back of New York and holds a critical three games in hand on the Blueshirts, so the difference between as much as a seven-point lead and as little as three after tonight is massive. With Martin Biron out the questions about which goalie will start are over as Lundqvist will be ridden down the stretch.  I will be watching Bryan McCabe closely to see if he can repeat a very solid debut in his second outing.  For Buffalo, newly acquired Brad Boyes will be making his Sabres debut.

CRAZY THOUGHT: Zuccarello gets his first goal in 17 games

OPPONENT’S BLOG: Sabres Edge

PREDICTION: Rangers 3 Buffalo 2

 

 

Rangers Rally Comes Up Short Again in 2-1 Loss to Lightning

In a refrain that Rangers fans are tired of hearing, Sam Rosen ended today’s game with, “they just ran out of time.”  This team continues to battle late in games, but they are coming up short in the close ones far too often right now.  Losing the games is one thing, but losing in regulation and failing to get any points is really hurting them both in securing a solid playoff footing and in their ability to rise in the standings.  Other than against Carolina on Tuesday they are just unable to come up with that tying goal late in games and that is why it ended up in a 2-1 defeat against Tampa Bay.  The loss dropped New York back to 14-14-3 at home and that simply is not good enough if you want to go anywhere in the postseason.

I am with everyone that there was some horrific officiating in this one whether it was the phantom boarding call on Girardi or the even more made up interference call on Dubinsky at the blue line when the Lightning play fell on his ass all by himself.  Having said that, the officiating is not responsible for the utter lack of effort the Rangers put on offensively in the first period this afternoon.  This team still seems to fail to grasp the concept of playing 60 minutes and that is not about the officials. Overall the team played an awful first period in which they developed nothing offensively and generated only one lousy shot in the first 19 minutes.  Defensively they played pretty well on the whole, but would give up the only goal.

The Lightning struck first on a slap shot from Martin St. Louis at the right faceoff circle.  The shot would squeeze through Lundqvist as he was working from side to side to get into position.  Dan Girardi got caught pinching on the play and it led to a 3-on-2 for Lecavalier, St. Louis and Downie against McDonagh and Stepan the two Rangers back.  St. Louis carried the puck down the right side, dropped it back to down who fed it back to St. Louis for the one-time goal.  I will not call it a soft goal, but it is one that Lundqvist usually stops.

New York played a much better second period than first and they would get rewarded on the scoreboard.  The Rangers penalty killing unit was again their best source of offense and led to their only goal.  While down a man Brian Boyle ties up a man in the defensive zone along the wall, Ryan McDonagh picks up the puck and outlets it to Brandon Prust in neutral ice.  Prust collects the puck and skates aroun Marc-Andre Bergeron and in on goalie Dwayne Roloson.  Prust and Roloson collided as the puck went in the net, but the goal stood after a review.  The tally was Prust’s fourth shorthanded goal, which is one off the NHL lead and gave the Rangers 10 on the season.

The penalty kill was brilliant this afternoon in fighting through the combination of lousy penalties by Rangers players and lousy calls by the officials, but you knew if you kept giving them chances that Tampa would finally convert.  They did in the third period.

While on a 5-on-3 the Lightning scored the go ahead and eventual game winning goal. Vinny Lecavalier would score from almost the identical spot as Martin St. Louis, except his one-time was a perfect shot far side off the post.  The reason for the 5-on-3 was some ridiculously bad officiating.  Dan Girardi was called for an awful boarding call at 1:11 of the period and then Brian Boyle would go off for flipping the puck over the glass for a delay of game at 2:04.  Against that offense you cannot be down two men or you will likely be fishing the puck out of the net as they were 2:40 into the third.

The Rangers would again generate chances late, but not find a way to get the tying goal to at least get one point out of the game.

  • McCabe played well in his debut while doing excellent work keeping pucks in the zone and firing his shot at the net.  He will get better, but you already saw that he can make a difference on the power play.
  • No forwards really stood out to me today.  Callahan, Boyle and Prust played well on the PK, but we generated nothing offensively in the game.  Stepan was probably the most noticeable in their zone.
  • Lots of talk about Sean Avery and the 54 seconds he played the last two periods today.

Rangers Embarass Capitals Again, This Time At Their Place

The Rangers walked into Washington, D.C. a wounded group without their top offensive player in Marian Gaborik and their top defender in All-Star Marc Staal and for one night at least they did not miss either one.  New York would embarrass the Capitals for the second time this season with a 6-0 laugher that should make the Rangers feel good, but hopefully not satisfied as they have to bring this effort again on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Having Henrik Lundqvist playing in top form certainly helped the result tonight as his made 35 saves, some of the gorgeous variety, en route to his league leading eighth shutout.

The bigger worry coming in than Gaborik being out as the Rangers have faced that before this season was how they would do without their defensive stud.  The loss of Staal meant that Ryan McDonagh would have to take on the challenge of facing Alex Ovehckin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble and McDonagh did it beautifully.  The reaction of McDonagh to the assignment was the same as it has been to everything in his 22 games as an NHL player, to just play his game and show he has the strength and poise of a ten year veteran.

On the offensive side the night would belong to an unusual suspect in Erik Christensen.  There has never been a debate about the talent that Christensen possesses, but that talent is also the source of much frustration in that he fails so often to exercise it.  Tonight was one of those nights where he let the talent show as he scored a career high four points including two goals and two assists.  If Christensen did this more often, then the Rangers would not need more offense, but since he doesn’t all I could think to myself with each passing point was how it increased his trade value and Glen Sather should sell high.

New York struck first at 5:56 of the first period when Steve Eminger beat Neuvirth from the right point with the help off a Capitals deflection.  Earlier in the shift Mike Green cross-checked Derek Stepan behind the net, but no call was made.  As play continued the puck went back to the corner where Derek Stepan hit Mike Green in the head and there is going to be controversy here.  On the live look it appeared he hit him with his elbow, but I did not see that on the replay.  Regardless there is head contact and discussion of whether he will get suspended.  Check out the video and discussion here.

The Rangers did not let off the gas this time as late in the first Erik Christensen scored his first goal since returning to the lineup from his injury.  The goal itself was really a tap-in for Christensen off a beautiful saucer pass feed from Michael Sauer.  The goal was Christensen’s seventh of the season and the beginning of a huge night for the talented but inconsistent forward.

Just like the first period the Rangers struck early and then late.  Christensen was the culprit again this time with the early goal in the second period, this time on the power play on a beautiful passing play by the Rangers.  Prospal worked the puck along the boards, feed it down low to Callahan at the left side of the net and he threw a behind the back pass to Christensen on the other side to shoot into an open net.

The goal to close the period came from Derek Stepan and gave the Rangers their second on the power play.  This play was purely the work of beautiful puck movement and a shot/pass from Del Zotto that missed the net, nothing new there, but this time the bounce came to Stepan and he roofed it on a prone Neuvirth.

Third period thankfully saw more of the same with Vinny Prospal getting in on the act 6:16 in with his third of the season.  Like with all Prospal goals the celebration is equivalent to winning the Stanley Cup, but that is the enthusiasm you love about Prospal.  Christensen picked up the primary assist on the goal to give him his third point of the game.

The Rangers rubbed some salt in the wound with a goal by Brian Boyle with 33.7 seconds left in the game.  The goal was Boyle’s 20th of the season and came off a gorgeous backhand pass from that Christensen fella to give him a career high four point night

  • Stepan was the most visible forward tonight other than Christensen with his willingness to play a physical game.  We shall see if he gets disciplined for the play with Mike Green, but he plays better when he is physical.
  • Michael Sauer was also phenomenal in this game as he continues to improve on an already stellar season.
  • Del Zotto, Eminger and Gilroy were all solid tonight, which might give New York enough confidence to not feel the need to bring in another defender, at least not an expensive one.
  • Ruslan Fedotenko would have to leave his first game back from shoulder/appendectomy caused absence with an injury to that same shoulder.

Updates on Fedotenko, Gaborik, Staal and McCabe Rumors

For those expecting concrete news to come out of today’s New York Rangers practice you will be sadly disappointed as the day had more of a dump it deep in the zone and wait until tomorrow to see if they can chase it down feel to it.  There are updates for Ruslan Fedotenko, Marc Staal and Marian Gaborik to sift through though.

In the good news department, Ruslan Fedotenko took part in practice again today, this time with some contact and battling.  Signs point to a return in the very near future, with it being possible for tomorrow night against Washington, but they will not know that for sure until tomorrow morning according to Tortorella.  During practice he skated along with Avery, Newbury and Prust.  Getting Fedotenko back would be a huge lift for the club as they are only 5-8-1 since he sprained his shoulder on January 19th and then had his recovery sidetracked by an emergency appendectomy.  If people did not appreciate how important Fedotenko was to the forecheck while he was in there they certainly are aware of it now.

In other positive news, Jesse Spector of the Daily News reports that Marian Gaborik is said to be feeling better, but that coach Tortorella was unsure if he was symptom free.  The team ran some blood work on Gaborik to see if there was any deficiencies in the results, but the coach was not sure what they were looking for and the results had not come back yet to his knowledge.

Now that you have been built up with good news it is time for the potentially bad news of the day.  Marc Staal, who twisted his knee Tuesday against Carolina, sat out practice today, and is said to be having soreness in the knee.  The main complaint though according to Jim Cerny, is about a lack of strength that he feels in the knee.  Staal will test it out tomorrow morning to see if he can go, but Andrew Gross labeled him as “iffy” for tomorrow’s contest against Ovechkin at the Capitals.

No doubt that missing Staal in the lineup would be a huge loss for the defense core, but it might be better to sit him for a game than push him back when he is not ready to go and risk prolonging the issue.

There were a couple of playful stories relayed out by the beat writers that involved Marc Staal today.  The first was how he was getting flak from the guys in the locker room, especially Martin Biron, for not practicing today.  The other was about Staal refuses to call his mother right now and is keeping communication strictly text based while she “cools down.”

Jesse Spector passes along these quotes:

“I have not talked to my mom about it yet,” Marc said. “She’s given me a few text messages, but I haven’t spoken too her on the phone. Not until I let her calm down. That’s probably the worst conversation out of the (family).”

Finally in the never ending trade rumor saga of close but not done there is another rumor about how Bryan McCabe could be on his way to New York shortly.  This one is passed along by Miami Herald sportswriter George Richards on his blog, On Frozen Pond, who says that the deal is close to being finalized.  Like with all rumors they are just that until it is actually done.  McCabe still has not waived his no-movement clause and he was on the team flight to Atlanta this afternoon, which does not preclude the deal from happening, but might eliminate a little of the immanency.

Searching The Waiver Wire For Options: Zherdev, Rivet

The NHL waiver wire normally gets a bump in action as the trade deadline approaches as teams try to create flexibility both in salary and roster spots.  Today’s waiver action has some intriguing names in former Rangers as Nik Zherdev and Ales Kotalik along with Marek Svatos and Buffalo Sabres captain Craig Rivet.

The most intriguing of those names from a talent standpoint is obviously Zherdev who elicits very strong opinions on both sides from Rangers fans at the mere mention of his name.  The 26-year-old winger is currently on 1 year $2 million dollar deal with Philadelphia and has 15 goals, four assists in 47 games this year.  There are certainly flaws in Zherdev’s game and questions about his commitment still linger, but for a team like New York that has a talent deficiency and is without their most talented sniper, taking a no-risk chance on Zherdev has to be intriguing.

The frustration with Zherdev and his inconsistency is there for everyone who watched him play and that has not gone away or he would not be on the waiver wire today.  I would frame the debate slightly differently and look at the Rangers current roster and our own frustrating talent but little results player, Erik Christensen.  You ask me right now whether I take a chance on Christensen doing something productive or Zherdev and I take Zherdev every time.  People forget that in his one season here he was tied for the team scoring lead with his 58 points so it is not like he did not produce overall and certainly at a better rate than the Christensen’s we keep throwing out there now.

The only hesitation I have on Zherdev is the way he and Tortorella related when Z was here the first time.  Zherdev’s lack of attention in the defensive zone put him in the doghouse nearly immediately and he never got out.  For that reason I do not think the Rangers will make the claim to take the risk on the talent, but I believe they should.  Seriously, the worst thing that could come from making the move is that it busts and he gets benched or waived.

The other name that might cause some interest for the Rangers is Craig Rivet.  Rivet, 36, is a 16-year NHL veteran who has seen very little playing time this season.  He has clearly fallen out of favor in Buffalo and has been a healthy scratch for the past 16 games while they have been moving to a somewhat younger defensive unit.  I am not big on Rivet as a player at this point, but he would fill the checklist for a veteran defender who could provide leadership and he wouldn’t cost any assets unlike McCabe.

Obviously you are also not going to get the upside of McCabe, but this could be a more expensive version of last year’s Anders Eriksson move where you bring in a guy you can trust just to eat third pair minutes and help balance out the minute distribution.  In all honesty I don’t see how it is better than just playing Eminger, but for whatever reason he has clearly fallen into the doghouse with Torts, so maybe they look at Rivet.  Another low-risk gamble type move, but low reward here as well I feel.

Svatos has no interest for me as the Rangers do not need another small forward and he has never regained the form he had his first year.  Kotalik is a heck no.

Rangers Battle Back Late And Secure Two Huge Points On Wolski Shootout Winner

Tonight was a huge game in so many ways for the New York Rangers.  Coming in the game was going to be about whether the Rangers could find a way to turn things around in time to stay out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.  Combine that with the fact they were without their most explosive scorer and this was going to be yet another gut check game for this team and as they have all season, they responded.

New York would come out flat early in the third and it would cost them the lead, but they would not quit on the game and this time they would get some bounces and be rewarded for the effort.  After pressing the action for a number of opportunities late in the game the Rangers were rewarded with the tying goal from Wojtek Wolski with just 1:50 to go.  On the play Wolski displayed unbelievable patience with the puck and while everyone crashed the net he threw the puck across and it would deflect off Jay Harrison’s stick and in.

In the shootout it would be Wolski again, as he was the only shooter to solve the two tremendous goaltenders and he would solidify this as his best game as a Ranger.  Tonight he showed off the multitude of skills that made people so excited about the trade when he was acquired for Michal Rozsival.  This is the kind of elite skill the Rangers do not have enough of and Wolski for all the talk about the team record since the trade has been everything they could have asked for.  With the goal tonight Wolski now has five goals and seven assists in 19 games as a Ranger and he has not had the defensive or effort issues people were worried about when the deal was made.  Congrats to Wolski.

Rest of the action and player thoughts…

The Rangers came out very strong to start the game and unlike previous games they cashed in the early opportunity as Brandon Prust scored.  The Rangers were actually outnumbered in the Carolina zone, but Sean Avery would win a battle along the boards and try a wraparound that led to a rebound that Prust would put home at 2:08 of the opening period.

Despite playing a very good period, the Rangers would end up having just a tie to show for it as late in the first period the Canes would tie it up on a goal by Jay Harrison.  Matt Gilroy in attempting to break up the ice with the rush forgot the puck and Michael Del Zotto was too wide on the other side leading to a wide open lane for Harrison and he shot it off the post, and it hit Lundqvist in the back and went in.

The key action in the second period would come late in the period.  With just over two minutes left in the second the Rangers would get a power play on Eric Cole’s delay of game penalty.  While the Rangers were on the power play Eric Staal would get a breakaway on Henrik Lundqvist following a Christensen turnover, but Lundqvist would turn Staal aside in what turned out to be a huge play.

As the power play continued the Hurricanes would get called for another penalty on Joni Pitkanen to give the Rangers a 5-on-3 advantage.  Bigger than the penalty though was Eric Staal laying out his brother Marc with a huge hit that saw Staal hit the ice and it appeared to have his head hit as well.  Staal would be on the ice early in the third, but leave for the locker room and not return.  In the postgame it was announced that the Staal injury was to his knee in the first and continued to get worse during the game and not related to the collision with Eric.

New York would capitalize on the advantage just as the first penalty expired when a Mats Zuccarello shot would be deflected by Ryan Callahan by Cam Ward with just 14 seconds left in the period.

Early in the third the Rangers were dominated.  Jussi Jokinen would score two goals to take the 2-1 deficit to a 3-2 lead for the Hurricanes.  On the first goal Matt Gilroy, who was out on the penalty kill because Ryan McDonagh was in the box, would lose a battle in the corner which eventually had the Hurricanes gain possession, work the puck back to the point and Jokinen score off a deflected shot.  The second tally for Jokinen was one where Michael Sauer just lost track of him along the boards and Jokinen beat him to the front of the net, stopping the initial shot from being handled by Lundqvist and then beating the Ranger goalie with a backhander.

  • Henrik made numerous tremendous saves tonight to keep the team in the game with the number of odd-man rushes that came at him and the defensive breakdowns the team had.
  • Other than Wolski, Prospal was the most noticeable Rangers forward as he was skating better than he has since his first game back.  The announcers mentioned he had the flu, so maybe that was a factor in his sluggish skating of late.
  • Michael Sauer had a tremendous game other than the Canes third goal.  The rookie defender was everywhere and did a tremendous job of pinching in the offensive zone.
  • Matt Gilroy was atrocious in this game and if he had trade value before tonight it took a hit and I expect him to be missing from Friday’s lineup if Marc Staal can go, if he is still here.
  • Del Zotto made some good plays defensively, but some of that was luck on his love for the dive with the two-on-one and he was absolutely schooled in OT by Erik Cole
  • Have to love Martin Biron and his shootout advice, what a great addition to the team.

Did Rangers Have Deal For McCabe Before Injury?

There has been a lot of talk about the Rangers and defensemen that might be available through trades.  The hot name right now is Florida’s Bryan McCabe and that talk got more intriguing today with the report from Andy Stickland on his blog at True Hockey in which he wrote that multiple sources confirmed there was a deal in place between the Rangers and the Panthers before McCabe broke his jaw.

The New York Rangers are still looking for a D-man. It will be interesting to see if they re-visit a deal that almost went down with Florida’s Bryan McCabe several weeks ago.

A broken jaw to McCabe prevented the trade from happening but multiple sources confirm a deal was in place between Florida and the Rangers. Panthers GM Dale Tallon would love to still move McCabe who will take full advantage of his no-move clause. Word is McCabe is very selective as to where he would go.

With McCabe now back in the lineup and the Rangers presumably still looking for a defenseman it is likely that these talks will be re-visited, but one has to wonder how much the other trades in the past few weeks might have changed the demands from the Panthers in order to trade McCabe away.  One must also wonder if in the wake of Gaborik’s concussion if the needs for offense might take precedence over acquiring a defenseman right now.

Rangers Lose Gaborik To Concussion, Then Game To Flyers

The New York Rangers came into today’s game looking to respond from their awful performance on Friday night and get a monkey off their back against the rival Flyers.  They were able to successfully pull off the former of those goals, for half the game at least, but they would fall to Philadelphia for the fourth consecutive time this season.  At this point it is not an exaggeration to say they own the Rangers and these dreams that many fans have that this team can beat Philly in a playoff series are more like fantasies right now.

At some point the Rangers are also going to have to realize that against all teams, but especially the better ones, you have to play a 60 minute game if you want to win.  Instead what we had today was a game eerily similar to many of late where the Rangers trail by two after the second period, making a furious comeback attempt in the third and come up short.

New York came out like an inspired team early in the first period.  The team pushed the pace, got the forecheck working and creating a number of early scoring chances, which actually netted a reward for a change.   At 12:43 of the first period Wojtek Wolski would give the Rangers the first goal in the game for the first time in eight games.  Ryan McDonagh would fire a shot from the point which was wide on the short side and it would end up on Wolski’s stick in the slot.  His shot would tickle through Boucher, but Wolski would make it a no doubter as he got his stick on the puck again on the goal-line before Boucher could glove it.

After the goal the Rangers forgot they have to keep playing that way and the Flyers would dominate the rest of the first period.  With just over three minutes to play in the first, Jeff Carter would score and erase all the good work New York had done to that point in the game.  The goal itself was relatively lucky as the Flyer threw the puck at the slot and it went off Carter’s stick, through the traffic in front and beat Lundqvist five-hole.

Following the first period Marian Gaborik did not return to the game and after the game it was announced that he has a concussion, which is not thought to have been suffered in this game.

The second period was abysmal.  The Flyers wanted everything more than the Rangers and unlike New York, when they got their chances they cashed them in.  The Flyers were given a gift power play just past the mid-point of the period when Wolski was given two minutes for boarding on an obvious dive.  Philly would score just 23 seconds into the man advantage when after Lundqivst made a tremendous save on Jeff Carter, Carter threw a beautiful backhand pass to Claude Giroux who lifted the puck over a downed Lundqvist.

The Flyers would add another later in the period, Dan Carcillo would get behind both Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer and slide a soft backhand shot by Lundqvist to make it 3-1.

Brian Boucher would go down just under five minutes into the period after taking a knee to the head from teammate Kimmo Timmonen, but he would stay in the game.  Just 34 seconds after that Derek Stepan would get a tap in goal to make it 3-2 with plenty of time remaining on the clock.

Despite dominating the rest of the period the Rangers would fall and Versteeg would cap it with an empty-netter with 45.3 seconds left on the clock.

  • Derek Stepan was everywhere today and his line with Wolski and Zuccarello was clearly the Rangers best as it was when it was together earlier in the year.  Hopefully they will be left together now.
  • Ryan McDonagh keeps up his tremendous play.

More later when the Rangers announce the recall ahead of the huge game at Carolina on Tuesday.

Johan Hedberg Blanks Lifeless Rangers

Watching tonight you would not believe that the Rangers were the team that was sitting in 7th place in the Eastern Conference and that the Devils were the team that spent months at the bottom of the NHL standings.  From start to finish the Devils outworked and simply competed harder the New York Rangers and if not for Henrik Lundqvist the final score would have been a lot worse than 1-0.  I thought this was the worst 60 minutes effort of the season and while I do not believe a whole lot in the shot totals, a 15 shot effort has to speak to that to some extent.  The lack of urgency in this game was a startling sight to witness and if it is not remedied they will get blown out Sunday.  This discussion about fatigue here and there is nonsense.  This was not just about a team that was a step slow tonight, this was about a team that mailed it in.

The first period started out pretty even with the first really good chances coming about 3:30 in as Erik Christensen would make a pretty feed to spring Mats Zuccarello, but Johan Hedberg would stop him multiple times.  As the play continued Zuccarello worked behind the net and fed Christensen out fron while Hedberg was down, but Christensen rushed the shot and missed the net.  The Devils would collect the puck and spring Brian Rolston on a breakaway that was turned aside by Henrik Lundqvist.

The second half of the period saw the Devils utterly dominate the play and if not for Henrik Lundqvist the Rangers would have been down multiple goals.  The last shot the Rangers managed to record was with 7:03 left in the period.  Staal and Girardi had an awful first period and their lack of clearing the crease is only getting worse, especially when compared to how Sauer and McDonagh do it.

The early second period action saw the Devils continue the domination that marked the end of the first.  Sauer took an early penalty that the Rangers would kill off.  During the kill Marian Gaborik was out with the second unit and I understand they want to get him more ice, but you cannot put Gaborik out there to guard Kovalchuk’s point spot because he is certainly not getting in the way of those bombs.

Marc Staal’s rough night got worse just after eight minutes into the period as he failed to keep the puck in and the right point and when he tried to recover he stumbled down, which allowed Kovalchuk to have a clear breakaway and he cashed in by beating Lundqvist low glove side.  The goal at 8:18 of the second gave the Devils a 1-0 lead.  This was the seventh straight game and 11th in 12 that the Rangers surrendered the opening goal of the game.

The Rangers would get a power play right after surrendering the goal, but it generated nothing.  The team had little to no energy until late in the period when Mats Zuccarello would once again get feisty in front of the net challenging Colin White.  Have to love the heart and intensity that Zuccarello plays the game with as he has absolutely no fear.

The third period would see a better effort, where they hit the post in the opening moments of the period, but overall it was still a lousy effort by the team as a whole.

  • Mats Zuccarello was by far the Rangers best forward tonight, playing with more energy and fire than possibly the rest of them combined
  • Marian Gaborik was invisible and only made to look worse by how dominant Kovalchuk was
  • Vinny Prospal’s skating is getting worse as the games go on, not better.  The team is simply asking too much of him and I would not be surprised to see him take a rest soon.
  • Staal from the opening shifts had no legs tonight and yet he still was sent out there 27:53.  This has to stop or he is going to be toast the final 10 games.
  • Sauer and McDonagh were the best pair once again
  • Gilroy played better tonight than he has of late as he started to jump in the play more
  • Lundqvist was excellent in this one despite the result