The Rangers dropped the third game of their west coast road trip against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday afternoon in a maddeningly frustrating fashion. Hank once again stood on his head despite receiving no support from his defense and despite being pulled in the third period. The fourth line had a solid game but the Rangers were generally out shot and gave up numerous odd-man rushes before the eventual third period collapse.
In the end not the kind of game you’d like to see from the Rangers heading into the post-season, but hopefully they can tighten it up over the next few games and start the playoffs right. Also, no gifs for this one, sorry y’all.
Rangers 0 Sharks 1
The play starts up top with Brent Burns at the point, who then works the puck down to the right circle for Paul Martin. McDonagh ties him up along the boards and the puck is kicked out behind the net for Joonas Donskoi, who makes an exceptional pass to the slot for Joel Ward who finishes. This one was tough because they were on the penalty kill, but Donskoi had the opportunity he did because Klein opted to try and get involved along the boards with McDonagh and Martin, leaving Donskoi open, and Fast was slow to get to Ward as he moved in to the slot to receive Donskoi’s pass.
Rangers 1 Sharks 1
Former San Jose Shark Dan Boyle gets the Rangers on the board with a pretty goal off a two on one. Marc Staal collects a rebound off a shot in the defensive zone and passes it to Brassard, who’s breaking through the neutral zone with Boyle coming down opposite him. Brass puts it across the slot for Boyle, who puts a nice move on the goalie and finishes to tie it up.
Rangers 1 Sharks 2
Joe Thornton proves that he’s still got it, putting the Sharks up by one goal. Tomas Hertl makes a power move to the net, easily skating by Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, but is stoned by Lundqvist. The Rangers weren’t so lucky on the rebound however, with Jumbo Joe swooping in to give the Sharks the lead for the second time this game.
Rangers 1 Sharks 3
Joel Ward gets his second of the game and gives the Sharks an insurance goal in the third period. Hayes makes a turnover coming through the neutral zone that is scooped up by Patrick Marleau coming down the left boards with Tierney and Ward coming though center ice and the far wing, respectively. As JT Miller checks Marleau along the boards he sends the pass across to Ward, with Marc Staal covering the odd-man rush of Tierney and Ward. Ward snaps the shot just around the right circle and although Lundqvist is squared to it, the puck trickles through his legs and into the net.
Rangers 1 Sharks 4
The Rangers win an offensive zone faceoff and send the puck back to Kevin Klein at the point, but he whiffs on it as Joe Pavelski skates towards him, easily picking up the puck as it trickles through the neutral zone. Breaking down the opposite side is Tomas Hertl, and the pair pass the puck across the slot twice before Pavelski takes the shot in close on Lundqvist. Hank actually gets a piece of this one, but it bounces in off of him into the net.
Shots and Scoring Chances
What we can see here is that while the Rangers were generally out-possessed through the first two, they kept things relatively close in terms of scoring chances in those first two periods. The bad news is that in the third they were heavily out-possessed and flatlined almost completely in terms of scoring chances. Overall not a good look for a team that’s looking to contend.
Similarly disheartening is the shot locations for this game, with the Rangers getting very few shots in the home plate area relative to the plethora of shots down low that the Sharks got.
Oddly enough the only Rangers who were positive in terms of shot differential were the ones on the fourth line. Everyone else was in negative possession territory, contrasting with the Sharks, who were almost entirely on the positive side of things in terms of possession.
What’s so frustrating about this game is the fact that Hank stood on his head and received such little support from his teammates. This alone would be bad enough, but it’s even worse as we approach the home stretch and get ready for the playoffs, because it demonstrates that the team can’t even get by anymore on the strategy of solely depending on Hank. The defense was particularly bad tonight, giving up tons of odd-man rushes and struggling to move the puck almost all game.
This is a talented group of forwards that could surely have given Lundqvist some support, but they need to be given support themselves, and it starts at the blue line. It’s been readily apparent all season that this d-group is an issue for the team, and it’s especially frustrating because small, simple tweaks could be made in house to tighten things up defensively, which is just not happening. With still some time to go before the post-season, hopefully this team can wake up and make those small adjustments to get this team in shape if they truly wish to contend.