The Rangers beat the Hurricanes last night in a win that could be described in a few words – bizarre, ugly, concerning – but no matter what, a win is a win. This was a win the Rangers needed to turn around from the slight slump the top-scoring offense in the NHL needed, however strange and ugly that win may be.
Let’s take a period-by-period look at this game in bulleted form:
- Carolina opened the game with a ton of pressure, consistently swarming the Rangers when they’d make it to the offensive zone and forcing turnovers.
- Once trapped in their own zone, the Rangers main move was to attempt to chip the puck out to the neutral zone. When this worked, all it did was come right back in.
- Former Rangers Viktor Stalberg scored the first goal as part of a solid rush by Carolina, highlighted by a dive-block by Nick Holden.
- When, oh when will the Rangers learn to defend without flopping on the ice like a baby whale to do so?
- The pressure continued throughout the first, with Carolina forcing turnovers. One particularly nasty one came off the stick of Kevin Klein and, eventually by way of rebound to the back of the net.
- Luckily for the Rangers, those two were the only of the 28 that Henrik Lundqvist would let in.
- The Garden was eerily quiet on TV, save for some boos that fans showered the players with at the end of the first, until there was some offensive production in the third period. Per fans in house, it was just as quiet in person.
- Nick Holden gave back with the Rangers first goal in the second period, a good offensive play in which he stuck with the play and tossed in a rebound. With Cam Ward having played well during the month of November, crowding the net and throwing it all at him seemed to work.
- Rick Nash was vintage Rick Nash — aka completely dominant — in the third period. His energy undoubtedly ramped up the team. His goal (the second of the game) was highlight reel worthy.
- Throughout the third period, which was miles better than the first and second, the Rangers were still a bit lost. The majority of their zone entries consisted of forwards skating the puck in and buzzing around. There was nothing cohesive, there were few outlet passes.
- That being said, the pressure led to a hooking call on Ron Hainsey which Hainsey contested, leading to an additional two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. This led to lots of traffic in front of the net and a Jimmy Vesey game winning goal.
- The Vesey goal was great, because the Rangers adapted to their missing pieces on the power play and improvised by throwing everything at Ward.
The possession chart below shows exactly why I feel unable to get pumped up about this win:
What this says to my untrained eye is exactly in line with the notes I typed as I watched this game and prepared for this recap. The Hurricanes’ forecheck was absurd, specifically in the first and second periods. Lee Stempniak, Sebastian Aho, Viktor Stalberg, and Teuvo Teravainen were all monsters this game, and that’s with Jeff Skinner (mostly) shut down by the Rangers’ competent D.
Also noted is the “grit” which works against the “grit” which does not. The Rangers looked feisty once again, which is a sign to me of inability and frustration. The current directive seems to be to finish your checks, since the Rangers had 19 hits, but still had less possession. The “good grit” was evident in the third goal: the jamming in front of the net, throwing everything you could until you hear a whistle or a horn.
The Rangers play in Buffalo on Thursday against the Sabres and recently healthy Jack Eichel.