Game Wrap-ups

MSG woes continue as Rangers fall to Bolts

Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Rangers dropped a tightly contested 3-2 result to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, unable to complete the sweep of their three game season series with the Bolts. While the result on its own isn’t disastrous, the main concern for the Blueshirts is their continued mediocre play at Madison Square Garden, as well as a lack of ability to sustain a full, 60-minute effort.

In some ways, the Rangers lost this game in the first period. While they were utterly dominant, generating 23 total shot attempts and 11 scoring chances, they went to the locker room tied 1-1. As the game wore on, the Lightning tightened up defensively and were able to capitalize on their chances, while the Rangers let their few golden opportunities go begging.

Steven Kampfer opened the scoring, hammering home Mats Zuccarello’s feed to the point off a set faceoff play. It was Kampfer’s first goal as a Ranger, as the home team was rewarded for their strong start.

Unfortunately, the lead lasted for only a minute and 50 seconds. With Brendan Smith in the box for tripping, Nikita Kucherov found Brayden Point open in the right circle for a one-time finish to the far post. The Rangers penalty kill strikes again.

Tampa came out hot to start the second period, establishing their forecheck and spending some time in the Rangers’ zone. Their second goal came off a successful board battle, with the puck finding its way to Jason Garrison at the left point. Gabriel Dumont deflected his soft wrist shot past Raanta, who was sliding to his left as the puck skittered back to his right. What made this goal even more painful was the fact that just moments earlier, Pavel Buchnevich missed a wide open net off a perfect cross-ice feed from Mika Zibanejad. Hockey can indeed be cruel sometimes.

Michael Grabner tied the game at 2-2 with a great individual effort, capitalizing on a Garrison blunder and chipping the puck past Peter Budaj. The goal was Grabner’s 27th of the season, which leads the Rangers.

Unfortunately, the Rangers didn’t carry momentum into the third, and were unable to generate much in the way of offense. Instead, it was the visitors who broke through, with Brayden Point finishing off a perfectly executed give-and-go with Ondrej Palat. It’s tough to find fault with any Ranger on this play, though Ryan McDonagh (excellent again in this game) admitted after the game he could’ve done a better job trying to tie up Point.

After opening the game with 13 shots on goal in the first period, the Rangers got only 15 the rest of the way, and only two with the extra attacker at the end of the game. Despite limiting Tampa Bay to 16 shots on goal in the game and out-chancing them 26-18 at even strength, the Rangers wound up on the wrong side of the final score. All in all, this was not the team’s best effort, but not their worst either. As Dave mentioned yesterday in his preview, process is arguably more important than results for the Rangers right now, and they showed some good signs in this one, particularly in the first period.

The Blueshirts will have three days off before returning to action Friday night at home vs. Florida.

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  • The Rangers got bottled up after the first period and the team really did not try to figure out ways to generate more offense until too late in the game. The boys should have going to the net consistently from the beginning of the third period at least, but really didn’t until it was much later. The team needs to crowd the goaltender and get in his face if they want to win in the playoffs where you face the better clubs.

    • Thanks Peter, no one’s thought of any of those things before. Look, at the end of the day this doesn’t really matter that much. Maybe the players subconsciously know that. You wouldn’t think that top-level players would think like that, but it is mid-March and they’ve played 70 hockey games. Twelves games left, get healthy, hope Hank is ready, give Rick Nash a November calendar to keep in his motel room, and give thanks that most likely the first two series will be on the road. Get ready for Montreal. Or maybe Ottawa.

      Stay safe with the snow, everyone. Regards- orange

    • Right Peter, I’ve said it a million times, the Rangers are at the bottom of the league for 2nd hand chances and rebound goals.

      They know how to crowd their own goaltender but not the opponent’s goaltender.

  • Thought: Do you think they play better on the road than at MSG because of the bad ice? Speed team, good ice, play faster vs. bad ice, slow and bouncing pucks. Just my impression.

    • Don’t know, it seems like there was more discussion about the spring ice at the Garden before the animal rights loons put the circus out of business. Haven’t heard much recently; maybe others have heard more? Is the ice still bad at the Garden, and if so, why?

      Regards- orange

      • I was at the game. It has nothing to do with the ice, everything to do with the effort and commitment. Rangers are getting constantly outworked along the boards in their D-zone, teams are crowding the middle ice to not let Rangers quick outlet passes, AV is not capable of making any adjustment in playing style. On the third goal, how can our top D-pair allow a forward that started behind both of them to split them and get his stick on the puck for a deflection? I am glad they will start PO on the road, but in the end don’t think it matters that much.

        • I’d lay it really on the commitment if the players as a group rather than on the coach. If the players won’t create traffic and don’t work hard enough to get the puck, and even their top Dmen fail to execute, Scotty Bowman couldn’t make them a winner either.

          • Peter

            True as it is, they are not willing to pay the dues to win. Let’s hope that the mind set is changed for the PO’s.

          • Problem is that if playing the right way is not your way of playing every night, it is likely hard to suddenly do all the things you should come playoff time.

            If they’d play hard and commit, then they would have a chance to go deep into the rounds. Who knows, Hank gets hot, they catch some breaks and boom they’re in the finals. If they don’t commit, then they won’t get past the first round. Which is the way it is going to go? That is the question to me.

          • Yep, a team full of players who never play hard, and with no commitment to winning, and an idiot for a coach, somehow, someway, is tied for the most wins in the league. Remarkable. Just imagine what they could do if they actually wanted to win some games.

            You guys are too much- again, keep up the good work. Very entertaining. Regards- orange

          • Orange you seem to have a reading comprehension difficulty. I’ve never called any Rangers’ coach an idiot.

            The team doesn’t play hard consistently in regard to fighting for pucks and going to the net. When they do, they can beat anybody on any given night.

          • orange

            When is the last time, Buch, Stepan, Fast, even Zucc, at times, won a board battle? We are undersized, or not tough enough, whatever the case, more times than not we lose…….As for the coach, that’s for another thread. Your welcome, we try to keep everyone entertained here!!!!!!!!

        • “Rangers are getting constantly outworked along the boards in their D-zone”—-This is exactly the problem & this is where most good teams impose their will on the Rangers and gain momentum.

      • Hey orange, animal rights loons? Really? I knew it was more than your complete lack of knowledge about hockey that made me dislike you.

    • On a serious note, I believe that the players are trying to put on a show at home, while they play a more basic game on the road……Just my thought!!!

  • I just think the better team one. We do not adjust to teams that bottle us up. We dump and “don’t” chase. because we do not know how to use our bodies to obtain 50/50 pucks.

  • Rangers’ record at home: 19-14-2 !!!!

    Started the season with an 8 and 1 at home, have 11-13-2 since, really what’s going on here??????

    Maybe too much good home cooking, who knows………..

    • I really think that is not Rangers that are playing away differently, but rather the home teams that are trying to play more open hockey at home, and that is preferable to Rangers’ style of play.

  • While reading some of the comments here, I’m reminded of an old Odd Couple Episode. Felix and his wife are distressed that their son is not doing very well in school. They are afraid that he has emotional problems stemming from their divorce, and he is having problems concentrating in school due to the added pressure of dealing with his home situation. They are having this discussion in the hallway of their apartment in front of the Janitor who is replacing a light bulb on the ceiling. The janitor interrupts them and asks: ‘If I may. Sometimes parents ignore the obvious reasons as to why their kids struggle in school.’ He looks them squarely in the face and says “Maybe the kid is just stupid!” (;

    Maybe, this team just isn’t very good, record or no. They can turn things around in the Playoffs, obviously. But if they don’t, watching them as we have, night in and night out, should we really be that surprised if they just quietly fade away?

  • Even though they out shot Tampa (half of them weren’t really quality shots), how many times last night when the Rangers shot at the goal, you heard Sam Rosen say, wide! They also missed two wide open nets. As the game went on after the first period, the Rangers looked despondent,unfocused, worn out, and were out hustled. Are they a better team on the road because they are more focused and looser?

  • Any of the wide open shots go in, it’s a totally different game. Buch can’t buy a goal, and Zib looks like Step with that one timer!

    Fast is crucial to the penalty kill and his miss is taking its toll.

    Plus, this schedule is INSANE! Back to back, then 3 days off, then back to backs! Then two days off then back to backs!

    On a completely different note, those of us of a certain age remember the Knicks when they were watchable. And one of the guys who made it watchable and listenable died yesterday at age 78. RIP John Andraise.

    • Buch was stunned he missed that shot.

      Wow, sorry to hear about John. Seemed like a genuinely nice guy.

  • That schedule is exactly the type of sked they have in the AHL with most games on the weekend, sometimes three in a row. Good training for the future NHLer. As for Fast being CRUCIAL to the PK, uh, I think not.

  • Before I read one post here, I’m assuming that most the posts are complaining about Raanta giving up 3 goals on only 16 SOG. I assume.

    • Yeah 16 shots but one was deflected and then squeezed between a players legs and went in , the first goal was back door setup and the 3rd one Staal let the guy split him and Mcd and didn’t pick him up

      • ah, the shoe’s on the other foot now huh? so, what you’re saying, is that simply looking at the game’s boxscore doesn’t tell the story of the game? huh, who da thunk it? 🙂

        BTW, I was at the game last night, lol.

        • Sorry to hear that !
          Might be cheaper to go on the road and watch em … least they win there lol

  • Random thoughts on this one…..

    Definitely getting concerned about the fading PK. If this doesnt get fixed it will likely mean an early playoff exit.

    The Rangers certainly had their chances to blow this thing wide open in the 1st period. But as has too often been the case really for most of the past 7-8 years, this team of “pass first” players often have trouble finishing on their scoring chances. Hopefully, this is just an extended scoring slump and they will recover, but it’s obvious that this offense, good as it can be statistically, is not going to keep opposing coaches up at night. Good teams can shut this group down with relative ease, so burying the chances we do get is crucial. So hopefully, our core group of supposedly “untouchable stars” will get hot at some point soon. No chance of advancement if we don’t have players willing and able to drive the bus, and I’m not sure we have forwards that are capable or ready to do that. TBD.

    One of the things the Rangers have to guard against is letting their battle level down. That clearly happened after the 1st period. When you have a playoff spot essentially locked away, and you are playing a good team that’s desperate like TB, they clearly are going to have more to play for. The Rangers final 12 games are essentially a playoff tuneup and nothing more, but they need to bring their A game, especially when facing a desperate team.

    Good to get a rest in today and hopefully a couple of good practices tomorrow and Thursday and get back on track.

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