This was a rough game for the Rangers. They gave up a pair of short handed goals, they committed 16 turnovers (to the Islanders 5), and the goaltending didn’t bail them out as they dropped a disappointing game to the Islanders by a score of 5-3. Henrik Lundqvist really isn’t to blame for the way the goals were scored, but the fact of the matter is he only made 15 saves. Hank blamed himself for the loss, and there is a certain level of blame associated with a goalie who is sporting a sub-.910 SV%.
That said, the blame here is team-wide. The Rangers didn’t forecheck as well as they should. They turned the puck over more times than I can remember. They gave up a pair of short handed goals for the first time in five years. This was a sloppy game all around.
On the positive side, this marked the third game in a row that the team came back from two goals down.
On to the goals:
Islanders 1, Rangers 0
This was just an awful call by the refs on Ryan McDonagh. Granted the puck jumped over his stick, which led to the Cal Clutterbuck breakaway and eventual penalty shot for the short handed goal. That said, it was a terrible call, questionable at best.
Islanders 2, Rangers 0
McDonagh had a rough game, and the second goal was a result of his turnover at the blue line to Michael Grabner. Grabner used his speed to blow by McDonagh for the breakaway, beating Hank with a great move for the second short handed goal of the period.
Rangers 1, Islanders 2
This was a wonderful passing play between Derick Brassard at the half boards, who hit Chris Kreider at the side of the goal, who hit Benoit Pouliot in the slot for the goal. It was a pretty goal to watch. There’s no real defensive breakdown for the Isles here for the first Rangers powerplay goal.
Rangers 2, Islanders 2
You don’t score on 100% of the shots you don’t take. Derek Dorsett took a bad angle shot that deflected off Thomas Hickey and in.
Rangers 3, Islanders 2
The Rangers had a very sloppy zone entry on the powerplay, but it somehow worked as the puck got down low. Eventually, a centering pass from Mats Zuccarello to Rick Nash doesn’t connect, and Hickey’s clearing attempt hops over his stick right to Derek Stepan for the goal. McDonagh had a rough first period, Hickey had the rough second period.
Islanders 3, Rangers 3
This was the only goal where there was a lot to look at. First, Dan Girardi made a really bad clearing attempt that the Islanders picked off and kept the zone. As the powerplay expired, Anton Stralman came back (he slots in as a winger for an expired penalty) and covers the strong side defenseman as Stepan drops down. In AV’s defensive zone scheme, that is the correct play here. You can make an argument that Stralman should have gone to Brian Strait at the weak side point, but that’s not how the overload is played. Once Josh Bailey got the puck to Strait, the shot from the point was inevitable.
Matt Martin was in front of the net here, and McDonagh was playing in front of Martin. This is something that Suit outlined, how Ranger defensemen tend to play in front of the screen for Hank, but sometimes behind the screen (and attempt to move the screen) for Cam Talbot. This defensive scheme is called fronting (refresher here). Much like with Stralman’s coverage, this is how AV wants his guys to play. The drawback to this is that the goalie is screened on the play, which is what happened here. Hank didn’t get all of the Strait shot.
Islanders 4, Rangers 3
Kyle Okposo made a very nice slap-pass to Thomas Vanek in the slot, who deflected it through Hank for the game winner. It was a 5-on-3 goal, so there’s not much else the team could have done. You can make the argument that McDonagh could have moved to tie up Vanek, but then Okposo has all day to walk the puck in and get a clean shot.
Islanders 5, Rangers 3
The chart may make it seem like this game was evenly matched until the Isles went into shutdown mode in the third, but considering how bad the Islanders are, evenly matched for puck possession is a net loss. The Rangers may have eventually won the puck possession battle, but the Isles started playing prevent defense after they took the lead in the third. Fact of the matter here, the chart is consistent with the play we saw tonight: Sloppy.
The main positive to take from this game was that the Rangers battled back from two down for the third game in a row. The problem is that every facet of the game was pretty bad last night. The turnovers were abundant, and forecheck was lacking, and the big names that needed to keep the team in the game did not show up. Something needs to change in the mindset of this team, and it needs to happen fast."Turnovers and sloppy play lead to disappointing loss to Islanders",