Archive for Game Wrap-ups
The Rangers played another solid game this afternoon, but fell just short of taming the red-hot Caps, 4-3 in overtime. The Rangers were down 2-0 coming into the third period on two costly plays, but managed to take the lead in the third with a dramatic comeback. Not to be outdone, the Caps scored dramatically with six seconds left to send the game to overtime.
The outcome for the Rangers was a loss, but it’s hard to look at this game and not feel some kind of happiness in the way they played. Yea, those plays by Dan Girardi were rough, but overall the Rangers skated with the hottest team in the league and were a solid –and partially lucky– stick play in front from taking them down. Them’s the bounces sometimes, and this was far and away their best effort against the Caps all year. They also showed that Holtby is beatable.
Dave has the night off from doing game recaps cause he’s sick, so tonight is a gif-free, points-only night. There were lots of goals and, thankfully, most of them were scored by the home team.
Before we start, I wanted to throw something out there about the Stars’ goalies. To put it as concisely as possible, they’re not good. We spoil ourselves with great goaltending every night, so much so that when our defense lets us down and hangs Hank out to dry, we get angry at him. It’s abnormal. The Stars’ “number one” is Antti Niemi, who took the job from the sieve known as Kari Lehtonen. I personally despise Lehtonen since I failed to drop him last year, but that’s neither here nor there.
The Florida Panthers kept up their recent form against the Rangers on Saturday night, setting a franchise record for consecutive wins with a shutout victory at home against New York. Although the Rangers led in shots there were few grade-A chances among them, with Florida’s defense largely containing the Rangers and the excellent Roberto Luongo handling the rest. All in all a tough loss for the Rangers, who despite a decent defensive performance let up three goals, giving the Panthers their record setting 8th consecutive win.
Panthers 1 Rangers 0
Following some heavy pressure in the Rangers end from the forechecking Panthers, Emerson Etem clears the puck out to the neutral zone intending to hit Chris Kreider with the breakout pass. Instead the puck is intercepted by Corban Knight coming though center ice, who then enters the Rangers zone coming down the wing. Right between the boards and the faceoff circle he lays a centering pass into the slot for Logan Shaw, who puts it home for the Panthers.
Saying that the Rangers had a rough end to 2015 would be an understatement. After a dreadful 4-10-2 run in the last six weeks of the year, the Rangers played their best game in a long, long time, beating Tampa Bay 5-2. They didn’t have the numerous egregious defensive lapses this game. They back checked this game. They generated sustained offensive pressure in this game. And they best a very strong team.
Henrik Lundqvist outdueled Ben Bishop for the first time in his career, which seems odd to say. Bishop was 9-0 against the Rangers until this game. The defense certainly helped him out, limiting the Bolts’ shot attempts and holding them to just 22 shots on goal. The Rangers held the possession advantage throughout the contest, and while they weren’t generating a ton of attempts, they limited Tampa’s. The Bolts poured it on late as the pressed for the equalizer, but Hank stood tall. Overall, this was a solid win.
The Rangers were said to be refreshed after the week-long break for Christmas. They said they were a bit rejuvenated because of the returns of Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein. But that didn’t stop them falling on their faces in Nashville last night, losing 5-3. The Rangers just looked horrible int he first period, unable to generate any offense or play steady defense. Henrik Lundqvist kept them in it though.
The Blueshirts played better in the second, but still trailed by one heading into the third, when the rest of the wheels came off the wagon. The Rangers, after tying the game in the second, allowed four straight, three in the third, and two in 55 seconds. That’s just poor hockey all around. The Rangers made it interesting late, getting two goals late to get back to a respectable score, but this wasn’t a game for a while.
The Rangers have struggled mightily lately, but are headed into the Christmas break on a high note, with a 3-2 overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks. The Rangers got a little lucky in this game, as Ryan Getzlaf can’t buy a goal this season, but their forecheck created two critical turnovers on rookies that were turned into goals by Derick Brassard. Part of the process returned with the forecheck, although they still had lapses in the defensive zone. Ironically enough, it wasn’t a defensive zone lapse that led to the tying goal, but them’s the breaks sometimes.
When a team hits a slump like this, you kind of just hope points come. The Rangers are not as bad as that slump, but a team that doesn’t possess the puck strongly will be incredibly streaky. A win like this, one where the process started to improve, is one you can point to that may flip the page on their recent play. They forced turnovers with their forecheck, and while the defensive zone coverage needs work, forcing turnovers is their bread and butter. It worked.
The first period of last night’s game couldn’t have gone any better. The Rangers controlled the play, played okay defensively (there were a few breakdowns), and were able to come out of the period with a 3-1 lead. Then it all came crashing down in the second. The Rangers allowed four straight goals in the second, including two in a two minute span to allow the Caps to tie it. They never got it going after, and allowed six straight when all was said and done.
Before he was pulled, there wasn’t much Henrik Lundqvist could do though. Two goals were on the powerplay, and one other came from an unlucky timing play. In the game thread, I said this game could get ugly if the Rangers didn’t play well, and it got ugly fast. Magnus Hellberg got his first appearance as a Ranger, and was scored upon on the first two shots he faced: A breakaway and a turnover.
The Rangers can’t seem to get out of their own way this season. With the goaltending crashing back to human levels, the Rangers are hemorrhaging goals and chances like crazy, and it all starts in the defensive zone. The top line was atrocious, with three separate breakdowns that led to a pair of Bryan Little goals to open the game and a Tyler Myers goal to regain a two goal lead. As with the other 33 games this year, team defense was an issue.
This is becoming comedic at this point. We knew the Rangers were due for regression, but I was hoping the usual December uptick in play would help take the pain of that regression away. That uptick in play never happened. In fact, they regressed. The bleeding will stop eventually though. Just not sure when.
The Rangers are going to look to forget last night’s game pretty quickly, as Minnesota ran all over them in a dominating 5-2 win. This wasn’t a question about the Rangers showing up, it was just Minnesota shut them down. They are one of the best teams in the West and put it on full display last night. They then took advantage of two rookies, which is what good teams do.
The scary moment came early in the first period when Antti Raanta, who started the game, took a Marco Scandella slap shot to the noggin. Raanta quickly went down for the count and needed to be helped off the ice. He did not return, and Henrik Lundqvist had to come into the game.
There’s really not much else to talk about for this game, except for the goal breakdowns. The Rangers got beat, plain and simple. Forget it, and move on.
It was a big night for the Rangers’ former first rounders as they reversed the result from their last meeting with the Oilers, beating them 4-2. The most notable stories could be found at the blue line, with Brady Skjei making his Rangers debut in place of the injured Dan Girardi, and Dylan McIlrath scoring his first NHL goal. Chris Kreider and JT Miller also had strong games, helping the Rangers forecheck regain some of the energy it had seemingly lost in previous mathchups. Overall the Rangers played markedly better hockey than we’ve seen from them lately, connecting on passes, playing a strong forechecking game, and getting some high quality scoring chances. While the Rangers found themselves on the penalty kill perhaps more than they would like and Edmonton pushed back somewhat late in the game, the Rangers stuck with it and have a lot to be proud of in their game tonight, especially on defense.
Rangers 1 Oilers 0
A nice cycling play up top leads to a goal for Mats Zuccarello. Boyle has the puck around the top of the cirlce and works it back up top to Rick Nash. Nash then passes it to Yandle, who’s moving along the blue line as Zuc is moving in the opposite direction. This creates a nice bit of space for Zuc, who receives the pass from Yandle and snaps the shot. A good team effort and some solid puck moving from the Rangers’ defensmen on the play leads to a goal.