Archive for Game Wrap-ups
It was a disappointing end to the season to say the least, with the shock of Rangers’ blowout loss to Pittsburgh away matched only by their previous two efforts at home. The game was microcosmic of the season – flashes of pomising play at the beginning, with defensive breakdowns and endemic failure getting worse over time. This loss was the kind of game where you wished for a mercy rule, not only for our sake, but for Henrik Lundqvist’s, who despite being the best Ranger of the past decade is sure to receive some of the blame for the Rangers’ early playoff exit this year.
This playoff series against the Penguins was troubling but unsurprising for many fans who had seen underlying issues with the team papered over by stellar goaltending all season. It was the kind of series that makes you worry that the window is just about closed, and it makes this offseason that much more critical for Jeff Gorton.
The Penguins destroyed the Rangers last night before the first period was over. It was 1-0 a minute into the game. Then before we blinked it was 3-0. They added another in the second. But the game was over before all this. It was over before the Rangers even took the ice.
The Rangers just didn’t show up. They lost every puck battle. They lost every race for the puck. They gave the Pens room. They didn’t bother to try and generate offense. They just didn’t bother trying.
This game hurts as a fan. The players shrug it off as a job, because that’s what last night looked like. A job. Fans, on the other hand, this isn’t a job. For some, this is an escape. This is hope for joy. And the Rangers let everyone down. There is no excuse for this kind of effort.
The Penguins came into New York reeling after allowing four goals to the Rangers in Game Two and getting thoroughly thrashed in most aspects of the game. But coach Mike Sullivan adjusted, the Penguins shut it down in their own end, and beat the Rangers at their own game.
The game could have been much different though, as Chris Kreider appeared to give the Rangers an early lead. The goal was disallowed after the Rangers were ruled offside on the zone entry. Rick Nash later scored a shorty, but the goal by Kreider was sorely missed at that point for what could have been a 2-0 lead. Considering the Rangers got absolutely nothing at even strength, every goal mattered.
You have to tip your cap to the Penguins though, they really shut down the Rangers at even strength. The Rangers couldn’t get anything going, and it wasn’t from lack of effort. The Penguins cut off passing lanes, stood up at the blue line, and clogged the middle for their rookie goalie. The Rangers played well defensively, Pittsburgh was better.
Yesterday’s game was as close to a must win as you can get for the Rangers, and they delivered. They added to their solid puck possession from Game One by tightening up in the defensive zone, shutting down the Penguins at even strength. But per Rangers tradition this year, they allowed a pair of powerplay goals against. Couple that with Jeff Zatkoff returning to human form, and the Rangers all of a sudden looked like a team that can skate and compete with the Penguins.
Make no mistake, it was not a coincidence that Dan Girardi’s “injury” and the improved defensive zone play came at the same time. The Rangers still had issues on the penalty kill –too many cross ice passes– but the even strength play in the DZ was much tighter. Henrik Lundqvist was back to Hank mode, and Zatkoff started to look like the third string goalie that he actually is. This game was a confidence booster for the Rangers, showing they can skate with this club if they limit the DZ mistakes.
The Rangers got off to a great start in Pittsburgh last night, throwing everything they could at backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff. Not only were they unable to solve the third stringer, they gave up late goals in both the first and second periods. They scored a powerplay goal in the third, but immediately coughed up a shorty a minute late to nullify it. They then allowed another in the third (the third with Staal/Girardi on the ice).
Even worse than the lost game is the loss of Henrik Lundqvist. Hank took a stick to the eye from Marc Staal, an exceedingly rare case where his stick went through the cat-eye and actually got his eye. Lundqvist was writing on the ice in pain, reminiscent of when Staal was on the ice after taking the puck to the eye a few years ago. This was just as scary.
Lundqvist finished the period –giving up the first goal– but did not return. Antti Raanta played well in relief, but the fears about the Rangers defense came to fruition, as pairing Staal with Dan Girardi led to a pair of goals against and what turned out to be an insurmountable deficit.
Although it may not have been in their best interest to do so, the Rangers capped off their regular season with a nice win over Detroit. The first period featured a standout performance and a goal by veteran defenseman Dan Boyle, although the Red Wings applied the pressure in the second and scored a power play goal to tie things up. Raanta made some key saves in the third to keep the Rangers in it, and Kevin Hayes’ goal put them up, followed by Lindberg’s empty netter to seal the deal.
Rangers 1 Red Wings 0
The play starts in the Rangers’ end, where some nice puck pressure by Dan Boyle and Chris Kreider forces a turnover heading towards the neutral zone, which Boyle picks up with speed. With Brassard coming down the opposite wing Alexey Marchenko finds himself in a tricky spot defensively, and Boyle snaps the shot before he can make a defensive commitment.
Rangers 1 Red Wings 1
A lot of folks wanted the Rangers to throw last night’s game. In reality, the best case scenario was a well played game, win or lose. The Rangers played a very strong game, controlling the majority of the game and limiting the Isles at even strength. However it all changed in six minutes in the second period, when the Islanders scored three goals to really put the game away and chase Henrik Lundqvist.
The scoreboard will show domination by the Isles, but it was the exact opposite. The Rangers spent most of the time in the offensive zone, but couldn’t solve Thomas Greiss, who played exceptionally well making 36 saves. After a flukey goal hit off Dan Boyle, Greiss made a fantastic stop on Miller, and the Isles quickly turned the momentum and a blown read into a 2-0 lead. A bad penalty kill read made it 3-0, and it was all she wrote there.
At the time of writing this post, the score is 2-1, Rangers trailing by one goal heading into the third period. I honestly couldn’t watch the first or third periods, thus is life sometimes. I guess these are good games to miss, since they are relatively meaningless. Here are some random thoughts from that period.
- Good to see Dylan McIlrath playing. Forgot he existed.
- Oh hey, he looks comfortable on the right side. Let’s play him more. Please?
- Oh hey, Oscar Lindberg is still a scratch. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
- And Tanner Glass got a game misconduct. Didn’t see the play. Interference apparently, but the Rangers killed it off. Not a good penalty –a five minute major for interference is never a good penalty– but a solid kill.
The Rangers had their third attempt to clinch a playoff spot last night against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets, and with Dave missing half the game, it’s only fair that a half short paragraphed, half Twitter recap take his usually gif-filled space.
This game started with approximately six thousand references to the fact that the two teams have swapped players. As if our livers haven’t been damaged enough with the recent play by the Rangers.
The Rangers came into last night’s game with another opportunity to clinch a playoff spot with a win. What resulted was an ugly first 20 minutes of the game, in which the Sabres jumped out to a 3-0 lead, one that the Rangers could not overcome. Henrik Lundqvist, who was not sharp, was pulled after less than 21 minutes.
Beyond Lundqvist, who again was not sharp, the top pair of Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein were flat out owned by the Sabres’ top line. It got to the point where Alain Vigneault switched up the defense pairings. They had a really good chance to tie it too, but couldn’t score on a full two minute 5-on-3 advantage.
It wasn’t all bad for the Rangers, though. Their penalty kill was solid, and their forward lines are showing some solid chemistry. They realized they were the better team too late though.