Archive for Game Thread
Well Tuesday’s game was a letdown. The Rangers played well at even strength, but special teams continued to be a train wreck, dooming them to failure. While it is critical to outplay your opponents at 5v5, poor special teams will doom any team. The Rangers are no different, and they need to get these aspects of their game in order.
The Wild are a solid team stuck in the best division in hockey, so this represents a solid challenge for the Rangers. Another potential problem is the team speed of Minnesota, as the Rangers aren’t the swiftest of foot on the blue line. But if they play the same even strength game and shore up the issues on special teams, they may actually begin to make headway.
The All Star break is over, and now begins the playoff push for the Rangers. They’ve been playing better of late, 6-3-1 in their last ten, but the overall performance has still left something to be desired. The process is certainly better on the ice, and the forwards have been better as well, but defensive issues remain.
This is a rather important game for the Rangers, as the Devils are four points behind the Blueshirts, but the Rangers have a game in hand. A regulation win makes it a six point cushion with a game in hand –potentially eight point lead– which is almost insurmountable with the three-point game system we have today.
After yesterday’s stinker, the Rangers are back home for one last game before the All Star break against the Sabres. These aren’t the same Sabres from last year that Mackenzie Skapski blanked twice. The Sabres basically built their top line in three months, getting Evander Kane, Jack Eichel, and Ryan O’Reilly in separate moves from the trade deadline through the draft.
The good news is that while they are certainly capable of scoring, they haven’t. That’s likely due to lack of depth at forward and defensemen that can push the puck up the ice (sound familiar?). Their team has skill, but hasn’t put all the depth and have very poor possession numbers. This is not a strong team, but they are a talented team. The Rangers usually feast on teams that lack depth, so this should be a good opportunity for a rebound game.
The Rangers are coming off two very strong wins against Vancouver and Carolina where they played the game the way we’ve come to expect. They dominated both games through and through, both on the ice and on the scoreboard (yes, there’s a difference).
The Sens are struggling mightily right now. They’ve given up 11 goals in the past two games to noted offensive juggernauts the Devils and the Islanders. They’ve also given up a whopping 28 goals in their past six games. Suffice it to say, the goaltending and the defense are slightly suspect, especially without Marc Methot. Kyle Turris is hurt as well.
This is another opportunity for the Rangers to really build on what they’ve put together the last two games. They’ve played relatively solid team defense, they’ve generated sustained offense, and they’ve capitalized on chances. A third win in a row, for the first time since their nine game win streak, would be nice.
The Rangers played a very strong game at home against Vancouver the other day, coming out with a 3-2 win in overtime. It was a game where they dominated from start to finish, and eventually solved a hot goaltender for a come from behind victory. Those are usually the types of wins that a team can build on, and that is hopefully the end result against a weak Carolina team.
Although Carolina is weak, especially in net, they are holding their own due to strong possession play and great play from their blue line. They’ve been getting better shot quality as well, so the Rangers will need to play solid team defense and pepper Eddie Lack regularly.
Derick Brassard will return to the lineup after missing the last game with the flu. Jayson Megna was returned to Hartford and Daniel Paille is likely a healthy scratch, so the lines will resemble what we’ve seen over the past few games.
It has been a rough six weeks for Rangers fans. We’ve watched the team free fall, with just 17 points since the beginning of December. There have been process improvements on the ice, but the team hasn’t been able to string together W’s consistently. It’s been maddening.
As noted, there have been on-ice process improvements though. With a relatively poor Vancouver team in town, tonight is a good night to start building something, even without Derick Brassard. It looks like the Canucks are without Henrik Sedin, so that’s a lucky break for the Rangers.
And hey, potential future Ranger Radim Vrbata is playing too.
Another day, another game against the Caps. This is the third time these two meet in roughly four weeks, and the fourth time this season. The Caps dominated the first two outings, with Henrik Lundqvist stealing the first and the Caps blowing out the Rangers in the second.
The third meeting was the best this season, with the Rangers coming back from down 2-0 to take a 3-2 lead. The Caps then scored with six seconds left to tie it, and Alex Ovechkin went end-to-end in a way only he can to win it in overtime. This was the first game that appeared to be evenly matched throughout.
Tonight’s game will be interesting, with the Rangers coming off a lucky win in Philly and the Caps coming off a 4-1 loss in Buffalo. Plus it’s Antti Raanta in net, so you never know.
The loss on Thursday was a tough one, since the Rangers played well for most of the game, but a lapse for three minutes eventually cost them the game. Luckily the Flyers aren’t as good as the Isles, although they are playing very well of late. Continued process will eventually net results. As long as that process continues –and we are seeing better process with the lineup choice today– then we should be happy.
That said, the Flyers may not be a good team, but they are playing well lately since their salary dumps. Credit Ron Hextall for creating room on the roster and in the cap. His team has responded with four wins in a row and a 6-3-1 record over the last ten games. Steve Mason is a great goalie as well, so this team is no push over.
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.
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.