The Rangers took the ice tonight looking to win their third straight and answer my question from this morning about if they were real in beating one of the better teams in the league, but things were not just meant to be against the Penguins on this evening. The Rangers would fall 3-1 in a game that will be the talk of tomorrow more for a non-scoring play than the outcome or the goals that made it that way. To not fully rehash my take on the cheap play that was the Crosby slew foot I will just direct you to the post that contains the video as well, which can be found here. What I will say now is that if it was anyone other than Crosby that is an automatic suspension so let the league prove they are not in his pocket and make him sit for it, which probably will not happen.
As for the rest of the action the Rangers would be exposed on this night for the same things that have troubled them against the good teams all season. They have been susceptible to teams with speed up front, teams that make quick passing plays and defense that move the puck quickly and blunt the Rangers forecheck. The second period would eventually be the undoing of the club as a 1-0 first period lead for Pittsburgh would turn into a 3-1 deficit for the Rangers. It was a very similar scene to that in Colorado during the second of that game, except this time it was only Letang and Conner netting goals 1:15 apart instead of four of them. The only highlight of the period other than the Avery fight following Pittsburgh’s 3rd goal was Marian Gaborik’s goal at 16:19 to give the Rangers some life. The Rangers played a much better third period as they were able to impose the physical game much more and create chances including powerplays but they missed the net so many times it didn’t matter and they never could get within one to make it interesting.
The problems for the club are the same as they have been for the past few years in that they struggle against the best teams, do not control their home ice, the powerplay is inconsistent and they expect Henrik Lundqvist to bail them out of every defensive mistake. The team also has become accustomed this season to getting away with playing one good period and getting a result but as tonight, the second game against Boston and Tampa showed that will not cut it against the best teams. As nice as their record looks in the standings a game like this shows why they cannot be considered a contender nor can they be deemed a lock for a playoff spot. Still a lot of work to do and now that the brutal November schedule is over they get a few days off before playing four winnable games against the Islanders and Senators
- Gaborik got more ice and was more effective tonight than I was expecting based on the health reports
- Dubinsky’s comments on Crosby were not only spot on but show why he is maturing into a leader on this club
- Brandon Prust is fearless as he will fight anyone at any time
- Avery had another involved game this evening, which is always good to see
- Girardi did not play a good game tonight
- Staal had some good hits but was out of position on one goal and beaten by speed consistently
- Michael Del Zotto’s shooting is getting to comical absurdity as much as he misses the net
- Lundqvist made some brilliant saves but was not as sharp tonight as the last two.
Tonight’s scoring plays:
At 5:10 of the period the Penguins would break the seal on the scoring as Max Talbot would beat Lundqvist with a shot after Ruslan Fedotenko after catching the puck out of the air ran into Marc Staal and dropped the puck right at Talbot’s feet in the slot.
At 12:01 of the second Crosby would tip a backhand pass to Pascal Dupuis who would give it back to Crosby and he would find Kris Letang wide open in the slot. On the play Marc Staal was caught too aggressive above the blue line and ended up out of the play.
1:15 later the Penguins would run the play I just described leading to an eventual three-on-two that would eventually end up on the stick of Chris Conner and he would beat Lundqvist low stick side for a 3-0 lead.
16:19 Michal Rozsival would hit Gaborik with a stretch pass and Marian would fire a snap shot in to cut the deficit to 3-1.
Quick personal note: Wanted to say thanks to Dave for asking me to help out on the site with the recaps and hope that you all enjoy them. For me it is an honor because as someone new to this side of things to be asked by someone whose work I respect means a great deal.