Game Wrap-ups

Rangers fall flat against Toronto

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

After an emotional ceremony to honor Detective Steve McDonald there was still a hockey game to be played, and the Rangers fell flat against a pretty good Leafs team. This is not last year’s Leafs team. They have a ton of young speed and skill, and they went to work against the Rangers porous back line. The put up a four spot on the Rangers with Henrik Lundqvist playing fairly well, save for that first goal.

The defense allowed a bunch of quality chances from the slot, some with the man advantage and some without. Hank got some, but not all. He also allowed a weak goal to start the game. Frederik Andersen, on the other hand, was not tested that much. It was a disoriented game by the Rangers, who were well rested but had only practiced once since their last game.

On to the goals:

Leafs 1, Rangers 0

The Leafs came away with the puck after a boards battle by the blue line. They quickly worked the puck to the weak side, and William Nylander was able to sneak a shot by Hank. Not sure if Ryan McDonagh tipped it, but Hank likely wants this back.

Leafs 2, Rangers 0

Brandon Pirri negated a Rangers powerplay with a bad penalty, which led to a Leafs powerplay. This was just bad all around. The focus is going to be on Dan Girardi’s snow angel, which did not block the pass at all. Once Mitch Marner’s pass got by Girardi, there was no support behind him to stop James van Riemsdyk, who had all day.

Leafs 2, Rangers 1

The Rangers won an offensive zone faceoff, which led to a little set piece where McDonagh carried the puck to the corner and threw it in front with Chris Kreider there. Kreider battled while on the ice and eventually got it through Andersen.

Leafs 3, Rangers 1

Great deflection by McDonagh.

Leafs 4, Rangers 1

With Klein in the box, the Leafs scored again on the powerplay. Kevin Hayes was in No Man’s Land here, failing to prevent one of the Tyler Bozak shot or defending Connor Carrick on the rebound.

Leafs 4, Rangers 2

JT Miller forced Auston Matthews into a turnover at the Rangers’ blue line, which he then turned up the ice. Miller got the puck to Pavel Buchnevich at the blue line, who sauced it back to Miller with room. Miller’s wrister beat Andersen.

Even Strength Corsi

This has score effects all over it, as the Leafs were up big enough early enough to sit back a bit. The Rangers got more chances later in the game, which makes sense because of both the score and the fact that the Leafs struggle late in games.

Even Strength Scoring Chances

The Rangers did a poor job early on both generating and allowing scoring chances. It wasn’t until halfway through the second, when the Leafs had already built up a lead, that they started limiting chances and getting some of their own.

It was clear the Rangers hadn’t played hockey in five days last night. But Toronto is a good team, so don’t discount that. The Rangers lost to a good team, but a team that is beatable. On to the next one.

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  • Being off five days, they should have come out flying last night. They were out hustled and outplayed by the Leafs from start to finished. I don’t think anyone really had a good game, except maybe Zucc. They needed a spark plug and didn’t have one, they look lethargic at times). Would have been nice to have a Matt Martin.I hope AV has enough sense to start Raanta tonight. Lundiqust let in his lately usual bad goal. Crazy and controversial as Torterella was (sometimes good, sometimes bad), at least he sparked some life into the players. Maybe it’s an Italian thing, but I preferred at times his emotional outbursts. He isn’t a bad coach either.

    • They need to start Raanta often enough to keep him sharp. Long stretches without being in a game are not good for the back up goalie, especially when the #1 is having an inconsistent year. Hank has been good sometimes and he has been average other times. Raanta needs to be kept ready.

      • I kind of disagree. Hank has started less games this year than is typical for him. Yes, he’s getting rested, but he’s also not been able find his rhythm

        I’d like to give him a chance to start the next few games and see if he can stabilize.

  • Lundqvist spots them 2 soft goals(yes I know, it’s the defense (sarcasm)) early hole, never recovered. I’m aware it’s taboo to mention that anything might be Hank’s fault. Until he retires this team is not winning anything.

    • Yes and the first part and have you watched Ranger hockey the last 10 years? For the second part? So you think that the Rangers have a better chance of winning the Cup without Lundqvist on the team?

      Comments like this show that the Fifth Amendment is still alive and well.

        • Hank was not great last night, no question, but geez I just can’t with this Hank bashing stuff.

          I watched the highlights and there was an awful lot of space and holes in front of Henrik because the D corps runs around like chickens without heads.

          • Richter is correct. Hank needs to play MORE not less. He thrives on work and he needs to get it.

            I get him maybe not playing tonight, but he needs to get the overwhelming amount of starts going forward. This team has NO chance unless we have Vezina-Hank as opposed to Average Hank.

          • At this point I’m okay with Hank getting the majority of the workload as it won’t affect our chances of making the playoffs, so the team can find out who the number 1 actually is.

            But Benny & Hank need to find a better process for him going forward. Otherwise he starts to go a little bit bad, then all at once.

          • I agree with you on 95% of this. But unless Hank craps the bed, he MUST be the number one. This team has zero chance going deep without Vezina level goaltending, and Raanta has virtually no chance to provide that for a deep playoff run as the Rangers are currently designed.

  • I didn’t see the game but the one common denominator I saw in all my reading on this game was “the Leafs made the Rangers look slow.”

    Ok, we had practically all our forwards back so how could this happen? Go back a month and a half and name the really good games the Rangers have played, not wins, good games from start to finish. One hand will do it.

    And now that we are into January, teams will start to play, like the Caps.

    • The Toronto forwards made the D look slow beyond McD, Holden, Clendening & Skjei. SSDD.

      Could’ve brought Graves up for the weekend and rotated Girardi & Klein; now they have a 24hr turnaround. I have a bad feeling that tonight is gonna be on of those Saturday Night Slaughters at the Forum on HNIC for all of Canada to see.

      • I would definitely give Graves a shot. How much worse can it be?

        2 upgrades on the D, a biggie and a Stone/Franson upgrade or you can kiss this year goodbye. Meaning a first round exit because the Rangers are not beating the Pens, Caps, TB, or maybe even the CBJs or Habs in the playoffs.

        • Graves coming up is a front office call. AV likely has no idea whether Graves is ready. Likely, the front office doesn’t think he is. Change for the sake of change usually hurts more than it helps.

          Yes, of course we want a better effort. But the Rangers looked like a very rusty team. Let’s let them get their players back, gets some practices and chemistry going, before pushing panic buttons.

  • Just flat an uninspired hockey the blame falls on AV and his coaching staff. Losing face offs and puck battles all night. What did they practice for five days? A real coach like Maurice would have blown his top at the team and pulled Lundquist after first period.

  • Disappointment is all I can say. With the tribute to Steve Mc Donald, one would think that the emotions would be sky high. Well, maybe they left those emotions on the ice after the opening face off, with Mess, and Graves ???????

    It’s only one game, let’s see if this turns into a pattern, I sure as hell want to see a different team out there wearing the Ranger blue…………Something has to light a fire under some seats, and soon !!!!!!!!

    • I’ll go a bit further. This was a statement game. McDonald’s wife, son and other family and friends were in attendance. This is a MUST win for the Rangers. We have an award in McDonald’s name, “The Extra Effort Award”!!!!
      Doesn’t in stand to reason each and every member of the team honor that man and his family with putting forth , you know, extra effort???????

  • Toronto didn’t try and slow us down. They matched our speed.
    Naturally, being one dimensional (speed speed speed and did I mention speed), we lacked the guy who could give us a spark, get the fans into the game?

  • Let me list all the excuses so the Rangers apologists can save their time today.
    1. They were too rested
    2. They were tired from Thursday’s practice.
    3. Staal is hurt
    4. Zib is hurt
    5. Both Staal and Zib are hurt
    6. Lundqvist gets better in the second half – I can just feel it in my bones!
    7. Buch and Nash just returned and need to get back in the flow.
    8. Hey, it’s just one game. The 1940 Rangers even had a clunker or 7 that season.
    9. None is this is Girardi’s fault – he’s a warrior!!!! And that one puck bounced off of McDonough, so there!!!
    10. We are lucky and so blessed to have AV as coach.

    I think I covered most of the apologists typical replies, so hopefully they can now enjoy their Saturday while the rest of us actually critique the team.

    • Oh, I forgot one, surprisingly, since it’s also overused on this site:

      11. The other team has more skill and the Rangers can’t match them. They’re trying to win the game, too.

    • Yes…..it’s another one game losing streak for a team with one of the best records in the league. Oh no!!!!!! The wheels are truly coming off!!!!!

      I wonder if Hawks fans think their team is a bunch of gutless no shows after last night’s effort in DC. Or maybe they posses a little more patience and common sense.

      We are lucky and blessed that we have a coach that thus far has overachieved expectations, and extremely lucky that we don’t have panic button pushers running the front office. So yes…count your blessings indeed!!!! 🙂

  • I’m surprised that Clendening didn’t get put in concussion time out in the 2nd when Martin clobbered him with an elbow to the head.

    Then again, they missed Staal’s concussion. The off ice officials must be hitting Bill Chadwick’s fridge too often.

  • How many times this season has Henrik let in Mr. Softee within the first 5 minutes of a game. I understand that the team is composed of professionals, but this trend can create a ” here we go again” attitude. If you see how many times they have come back after the first period, you figure out that they regroup and refocus. As the season gets to March, the porous goaltending and D will kill them. I know Hank made some real good stops last night, but that first one through the five hole was a tone setter and the third (McDonough) was the killer.

  • On the wonky 2nd goal – @kevindelury has a GIF on twitter showing Kadri skating by Hank and hooking his stick with his skate. Spins Hank and his stick around and puck goes through 5hole. Wonder if it should have been challenged?

    • I just noticed that this morning, Hanks legs are in the crease but contact was made outside of it. Either way the whole team was flat.

  • Was the team flat, or were they just outplayed by a young, skilled team? Toronto’s forechecking was relentless and on the boards they were quick to the puck. Their speed exposed the Rangers’ weaknesses on the blue line and beat the Rangers’ forwards to the puck. Last night Toronto was the better team.

    • Both. They were flat, but as no one wants to admit….

      AV’s system is brilliant for quick transition and high danger scoring chances WHEN the right personnel are in the right spots. We have neither the personnel in the spots or the personnel and the other 30, yes I’m sure Vegas too, know it.

      We have the ability to possess the puck. We have the ability to play better. But that would mean adapting to a different style of offense that the coaching staff refuses to do.

      So expect more nights of being hemmed in our zone. Expect on some nights the offense will bail out the defense, but we are not built for long term playoff success.

  • Everyone on this team was flat, Leafs had the same exact break. I believe it was Nash’s first shift, he got behind the defense, Vesey got the puck with a clear lane to Nash and puts it 5 feet infront of him.

    The 2nd goal everyone points to the snow angel, but where was Mac, him and Nash got beat on the wall.

    Another big miss was Stepan hitting the post on the pp at 2-1, that one that led to the short handed breakaway.

    Time to see which team shows up tonight, Price got lit up Thursday expect him to be on tonight.

    One question the video tribute they showed early in the first with the players speaking, did MSG cancel the first commercial break for it? I feel like they did with the length of it and the time played it at, if so good job on them for showing the fans at home the video and good job on the fans there for chanting Steven Mcdonald.

    • Ditto on the Stepan post. That may have been the hardest shot of the guys life. Why can’t he take that shot more often on the PP?

      An inch to the right and that game changes completely.

      Whatever, forget the game and get 2 points tonight.

      • Step like most of the forwards is a pass first player, Mika being the exception. Also in defense to all of them, there are plenty of times where the pass is not in the “wheel house” so rather than take a bad shot they dont take the one timer. Although the shoot first player will attempt the onetimr even if the pass isnt perfect.

  • I find it funny that people turned coat on Girardi so easily and yet stand ground with an over-rated goalie in Lundqvist for the same exact decline. No one dares to point to his decline and to me this is hypocrisy. Girardi was an outstanding defenseman in his day too who has lost it, so why does Lundqvist get a pass?

    The reason we lost last night was Lundqvist and that can be attributed to a few of the losses and….AND a few of the wins the team bailed Lundqvist out

    As for the coach….time for a change…this team needs a coach to put….Heart back into this team. The pieces are there and Groton needs to realize that the weakness of this team is actually the perceived false perception of it’s strength.

    • “Girardi was an outstanding defenseman in his day too who has lost it, so why does Lundqvist get a pass?”

      Maybe because Girardi’s decline has lasted 4 years and the King is still capable of playing out of his mind and winning a Cup with just a little help from his defense? Maybe?

      And it’s not all on Girardi, as his coach constantly puts him in spots of the line up he should be.

        • nice to dream….which you are….we are not going to win with Lundqvist…who choked in 2014 SCF

          no….he doesn’t get a pass with me…he is done

          • So let’s entertain your theory that Lundqvist is no longer an NHL caliber goalie. What exactly are they supposed to do?

            Also you probably wouldn’t receive such crap from posters if you didn’t just show up here every 5th game or so just to tell us Hank let in a softy.

          • They can’t do much now….can they for an overrated goalie getting upwards of 8 mil….
            We are stuck with this guy….and the team will suffer for it. I have never been a proponent of a player EVER being bigger than the team

          • Cost of doing business. What exactly should the Rangers have done back in 2014 when his contract was being negotiated? Are you saying that NO team should ever pay any of their stars?

          • I’m sorry your blinders didn’t allow you to see our “outstanding defenseman” giving the puck to the LA Kings leaving his goalie with zero chance.

            It’s ok though. They make shampoo for crabs

          • I did not say you didn’t see the games.

            I said: “I’m sorry your blinders didn’t allow you to see our “outstanding defenseman” giving the puck to the LA Kings leaving his goalie with zero chance.”

          • Anyone who believes Hank “choked” in 2014 is truly delusional. He was THE reason we got as far as we did and THE reason we even had a punchers chance in that series vs a better team. He has been THE reason we’ve even been a legit contender this past decade.

            I’ve been a defender of Girardi and I think he gets too much abuse out here. But to compare the two in terms of their contributions to the franchise would be like comparing Dale Rolfe to Eddie Giacomin.

            You may think Hank is overrated. But the NHL community would vehemently disagree and fortunately 99% of most fans would also find your statements laughable.

            That being said, he clearly needs to be better if the Rangers are to have any chance.

    • “Girardi was an outstanding defenseman in his day too who has lost it, so why does Lundqvist get a pass?”

      For 1, Girardi was an average defenseman. But moving past that, to answer your question:

      Because the stats and metrics show only a marginal decline is Lundqvist play from last year.

      The stats and metrics for Girardi show that he has slipped from being an average defenseman 4 1/2 years ago to an awful defenseman from that point to now. 4 1/2 years of TERRIBLE hockey, or roughly 360 games, vs 30 games this year.

      • A marginal decline makes him an average goalie. The D in front him doesn’t make for any margin for error.

        • I did not say you didn’t see the games.

          I said: “I’m sorry your blinders didn’t allow you to see our “outstanding defenseman” giving the puck to the LA Kings leaving his goalie with zero chance.”

        • Don’t know how that one got posted twice.

          Metrics and numbers show, that at 5×5 he’s still, far far above average. He’s still an excellent goalie.

          First one, old have had. Tough yes. Possible yes. Past that one, it’s still 3-2. Our defenseman need to teach the forwards how to deflect pucks like that.

  • yup you Lundqvist groupies…have the same rhetorical responses…this and that….blame others…put blinders on….what makes you right? What a joke

    Spozo…I was in this blog LONG before your appearance…so yeah…you put foot in your mouth every time….you are a joke too…

    • I don’t care how much longer you think you’ve been here than me. You show up every other week just to say the same old thing. “see he let in a goal. I told you he was awful!”

          • Game…set…match….well played Spozo!

            Hank needs to be better….on that I agree with the Hank critics. We have no chance if he’s not playing at Vezina levels, and I do think it’s overstating things to say that his struggles are all about the defense.

            He thrives on work. He hasn’t played as much as he need to. He needs to play a significant amount of games in the second half.

          • If you want a good laugh Eddie you should check out the posts from September and October. The comments are downright hysterical.

            I truly find it funny that the people that talked about how this team won’t make the playoffs because of the coach are the same people that now talk about how they aren’t really cup contenders. This means the coach is actually exceeding their expectations yet they will never actually say that out loud.

  • This idea that AV should give Lundiqust more playing time because he thrives on it, really makes little sense. Why cant people admit that Hank is 34 years old and is definitely not the elite goalies he once was. He is still a good NHL net-minder, but not the All-star he once was. I realize the defense in front of him isn’t that good, but in the past Hank never let in the type of goals he has this year. Maybe he will rebound back to his old self, but in the meantime Raanta has proven he is very capable in net and should play more games. When Hank sat out a few games this year, he came back strong and got a shutout. He is a great guy and wonderful competitor, but maybe has slowed down a bit and needs to be rested more often to be more effective, similar to the Girardi situation, Sorry to make that comparison, but I hope the point is understood.

    • The point is understood….but makes no sense. Hank has barely played relative to what he’s used to. The Rangers are virtually assured of making the playoffs. Do you honestly believe that Raanta, even at his best, could lead this team deep into the playoffs? The Rangers, as currently designed, MUST have Hank playing at a Vezina level in order to have any chance.

  • For those at home who give a hoot, I’m in the NYR varsity jacket on the glass camera right, just below the hash.

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