Game Wrap-ups

Rangers Survive Canucks Onslaught, Extend Winning Streak


In hockey, sometimes you lose games you should win, and others you win when you should lose.  The latter applies to the Rangers in yesterday’s afternoon tussle with the Vancouver Canucks.  The Rangers were awful in the first period, and only marginally better in the second and third.  They survived a frantic overtime and two shootout deficits before escaping with the win, their fourth in a row.

Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant again, and the Rangers made the most of the chances they were able to create.  It was a disjointed effort, rife with turnovers and sloppy defense.  It wasn’t all bad of course, as again the Rangers showcased their superior offensive talent and comeback ability.  The Rangers are a dangerous team when they have the puck, but they won’t be considered a serious contender until they improve defensively. 

Let’s take a look at the goals (with Dave on vacation this week, a special thanks to Shayna Goldman, whose .gifs I’ve used below; give Shayna a follow!):

Canucks 1, Rangers 0

Brendan Smith and Paul Carey combine for an ugly turnover at the defensive blue line, which enables Loui Eriksson to walk in untouched and pick his spot, through the five-hole.

Canucks 2, Rangers 0

The Canucks dumped the puck in and promptly pressured Steven Kampfer.  A brief battle along the half-boards turned into a loose puck right on Jake Virtanen’s stick in a soft area of the Rangers defense.  Marc Staal misses on the poke check, which leaves lots of time and space for Virtanen, who didn’t miss.

Canucks 2, Rangers 1

With about five minutes remaining in the second period, the Rangers began to show signs of life.  This was probably their best 5-on-5 shift of the game, as they had about 30 seconds of sustained offensive zone time.  JT Miller started the sequence, which ended with a deflected Nick Holden shot tipped home by Jesper Fast.

Canucks 2, Rangers 2

Jacob Markstrom should make this save, but credit Kevin Shattenkirk and Mats Zuccarello for the zone exit and springing of Michael Grabner for a partial breakaway.

Canucks 3, Rangers 2

Just 41 seconds after Grabner tied the game, the puck takes a strange carom off the boards, and Thomas Vanek finds a streaking Sam Gagner in the slot.  Gagner beats Lundqvist up high.  Welp indeed, Shayna!

Canucks 3, Rangers 3

Jimmy Vesey’s game-tying goal was one of the best of the year for the Rangers.  Kevin Hayes makes an insanely difficult and perfectly-placed pass, Rick Nash spins and centers, and Jimmy Vesey finishes after a beautiful deke to his backhand.  Wow.

Shootout Winner (Rangers 4, Canucks 3)

Both Kevin Shattenkirk and Rick Nash scored to keep the Rangers alive, and in the seventh round, Jimmy Vesey went top shelf to clinch it.  The shootout is an imperfect and probably unnecessary evil, but the lengthy ones can be really entertaining.  This one also happened on the exact same day, 12 years later, as the Marek Malik between-the-legs shootout winner against the Caps.  Time flies.

Score-adjusted Shot Attempts (5v5)

The Canucks controlled play for basically the entirety of this game, with just a few bursts of offense by the Rangers.  The Rangers are never going to be a volume shooting team, but this is a bad look and reflects bad process.  By the eye test, the Rangers were particularly bad with the puck in the defensive and neutral zones, which made it difficult for them to get sustained time in the Canucks’ end.

5v5 Scoring Chances (not score-adjusted)

While the Rangers don’t usually out-Corsi their opponent, they’ve lately been on the plus-side when it comes to scoring chances, but that wasn’t the case yesterday.  One scoring chance in the entire first period?  Yikes.

On one hand, the Rangers were lucky to escape MSG yesterday with two points.  On the other hand, they battled back to win a game that they never led until Vesey’s shootout goal hit the back of the net.  They’ve won 4 in a row overall, 8 in a row at home, and 10 of their last 12 games.  After the way this season started, the Rangers needed a run like this to get back in contention.

Next up, the Rangers take on the Florida Panthers at home tomorrow night.

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  • What is it with their slow starts? If Henrik isn’t playing like he has been then the Rangers are out of these games in the first 20 minutes.

    The “effort” was awful, so many turnovers because they were lazy and trying to take the easy way out on plays. How can a whole team be flat like that?

    That being said, Grabner was exceptional along with the King. The D was horrible though Skjei made some great plays in the game.

    Give the Canucks credit, they played hard and the Rangers did not. The Rangers stole 2 pts that they didn’t deserve. But again, our goalie.

  • I thought the ice was in bad shape yesterday. Lots of bounces, lots of guys falling. Not an excuse, just an observation watching live at the Garden.

    Boy, is Desjarnais finished. And Paul Carey? Wow.

    Really strange game in that VAN used a high press/forecheck in first period to really harass the NYR breakout, but by the third period they could not sustain that pressure. That Grabner goal was a flat out disaster for them. Changed the whole complexion ofbthird period, even though they got it back quickly.

    Hate the shootout. Hate, hate, hate it.

    • Just be thankful this isn’t the Rangers of old. I feel like I haven’t seen a Rangers shootout in forever, but it was only a few years ago that they seemed to go to a shootout every other game.

  • Agree agree, they looked like they were hung over and forgot the game was at 2pm. Skjei has been their best Dman all season. Hayes and Vessey the worst and isn’t it something that for 45 plus minutes they were horrific yet Hayes makes a “hope”pass and Nash makes the play that sets up sleepy Vessey. Add insult to injury Vessey makes a great shot in the shootout.
    If not for the KING they would be maybe 50% during this winning streak. So, to all the Hank bashers stating that he has lost something, think again.
    The Rangers are frustrating to watch. In particular, has someone told Smith that he can dangle?. In his last three games he has carried the puck and tried to stickhandle over the blue line. His forwards all stop, I guess they have no idea what he’s trying to do and he loses the puck every time. Opps transition and we wind up chasing and scrambling back. The other infuriating D man is Shatty. Yes , a great offensive talent but watch him stand flatfooted about 15 feet in front of his net while he takes his time to make a 100 foot pass that winds up as a turn over. Geez, from my hockey 101 days , aren’t D men taught to skate , look, skate pass. Key word SKATE. Also have a bone to pick with anyone who thinks Hayes is a bonafide 2c. Maybe when he shows up for 60 min. He is consistently, inconsistent. Oh well, they won so well take it. However the previous discussions here about defense winning championships holds a lot of merit. Yesterday was a poor effort by half the team and our defense came from a few guys and the goalie.TOOO many passengers yesterday but it was entertaining unless your the coaches.

    • Coach wants D to look for that pass 1st, Shatty obliged him.

      That is what you call bad process.

      Much like letting your best D play through his “mild abdominal strain” to the point that he missed 2 in a row and after monitoring he missed a 3rd. Will be interesting to see if he’ll miss a 4th. At some point he’ll try and tough a game out and then it goes from mild to extra picante.

      • Rangers are one of the hottest teams in hockey over the past dozen games. In terms of end result, I’d say that’s what you call good process, flawed roster and all. Kudos to the coach and the players for getting this turned around.

        And again, stop with your phony narrative. NHL players play through injuries ALL the time. It’s been said most players are almost never 100% in this game. The medical staff determines the fitness of players—not the coach. Any NHL player that is deemed fit to play is almost certainly going to play.

        You and the rest of us have no idea what is going on with McDonagh, just like we had no idea what was going on Girardi two years ago and Staal last year. It’s been speculated that the schedule being spread out as it is at the moment allows the Rangers to try the option of rest to see how the injury (whatever it is) responds to that. More than reasonable. Why you advocate rushing him off to surgery is beyond explanation or reason.

        McDonagh may very well try and tough out a game (wow…what a shock if that were to happen…and NHL player trying to play through pain!). He may well eventually need surgery, as you speculated. Unknown at the moment. But it is highly unlikely that AV or anyone in Rangers management is impeding or interfering in the process as you have ridiculously implied. That I would be willing to take the bank.

        As I said, I’m waiting for you to reveal yourself to the world on NHL Network or The Hockey News and show evidence that the Rangers as an organization are willfully making decisions that are harmful to their players short term and long term future. Yeah, that’s real likely. You think Don Fehr and the NHLPA would stand for that?

        We know you hate the coach. Try to be a little less over the top about it.

        • Blah blah blah, still saying nothing.

          The medical staff said out loud that Girardi can’t hurt ihis patella any more than he had when they cleared him, his actual on ice performance be damned(which is on the coach)

          Staal “cleared concussion protocol” on ice performance be damned.(which is on the coach.)

          McDonagh has not been all that good this season due to the injury and now will be out over a week. At what point do you just fix what is wrong surgically and get it done with l(if they had fixed via laparoscopy last week, he’d already be ready to go) ?

          Yes, I’m not a doctor and no, I haven’t seen his medical charts or can do the surgery(if he needed a hip replacement I could do everything but open & close); but I’ve seen this injury before and I’ve seen his pathology via performance and media reports to have reasonable confidence in what is going on.

          The next time he has to do the hard transition from skating forward to skating backwardss(something that would be interesting to see how that has transformed from this time last season to the start of the season to his last 3 games) will cause more damage as will the time after that and so on.

          But by all means, keep on drinking the Kool aid.

          • So then we agree….it was the medical staff that made the decisions about Girardi and Staal, not AV. You’re making progress I see! 🙂

            I will say again, in Staal’s case, you INSISTED that he would go on LTIR as a result of his concussion, even though all reporting showed he was improving and skating with the team. You took me to task in fact for reporting what was actually happening at that time. And of course, no shock, he came back.

            Now, the issue of whether Girardi or Staal at less than optimal effiency should play is certainly a coach’s call. But when the choice was Girardi vs McIlrath and then Staal vs Clendening, the two latter choices being northing more than marginal players who are now toiling in the minor leagues, it’s not as if the coach had great options there. So AV decided to go with marginalized veterans who he trusted vs. guys who have proven to not be legit NHL answers. That’s your beef?

            This was similar to Buck Showalter deciding to trust a marginalized (due to back problems) Don Mattingly down the stretch in 1995 as opposed to other less trusted options. Hardly a shock that a manager or coach would trust a veteran in these situation—unless the younger player shows he’s something special—and clearly that was not the case with McIlrath or Clendening.

            As for what will happen when and if McDonagh returns, sure, what you are saying COULD be true. I’m not denying that. But again, these are medical decisions—not coaching decisions. He is either going to be cleared to play or he’s not. (Derek Jeter said it best—if you are medically cleared to play, then you find a way to play. No excuses. The credo of any pro athlete.). They (the medical staff, NOT AV) are not going to let McDonagh play if they believe that your projected end result is likely. Unless, once again, you believe that the Rangers medical staff is guilty of gross misconduct on the McDonagh matter and other past matters mentioned above. If so, that’s quite a charge, especially for a medical staff that has the reputation that the Rangers staff has.

            So I still have no idea what your beef is here and what point you are trying to make. You basically accused AV of manipulating or influencing the decision on what to do with McDonagh—essentially implying if not outright saying the coach is responsible for delaying the inevitable surgery. That’s a pretty outrageous claim. If you believe that, given your background, then please, share your evidence. Let’s get on the phone to the NHLPA right now and present it. I will be happy to do the story to show what a “schmuck” AV is for daring to interfere in medical decisions.

            Or you can just continue to advance nonsensical babble that would most likely get you laughed out of any room filled with NHL professionals.

          • blahblahblahblah says Reena.

            Translation, “I have no logical response so I will do what I do best…deflect”.

          • Blahblahblah means you waste our collective time by failing to be on point with your Buck Showalter Joe Girardi nonsense.

          • With Staal, it was about cap management, improving the team and giving Staal enough time on his own to clear the cobwebs out.

            The same thing went for Girardi.

            If management had been proactive and worked the CBA to their advantage, the team wouldve been in a better place for the playoffs, which even this coach possibly couldn’t have screwed up.

            It’s a collective failure, but at the end of the day, the coach lets the players dress or doesn’t.

        • “In terms of end result, I’d say that’s what you call good process, flawed roster and all”

          This is the problem with winning. They are winning BAD. The process is the exact opposite of good. It’s bad, very bad. If you call getting throughly outshot and outplayed in 7 of 11 games in the month of November, a good process, I’m truly terrified of what you classify as a bad process.

          They are winning because of Henrik Lundqvist once again. Lundqvist masks the poor play of the team in front of him and everyone is happy. “Look at how good Kampfer, Staal, Holden are!” “Look at this!” “Look at that” But lets not look at the fact that 40 of 60 minutes most games are being played around our end of the ice. But as soon as the puck luck flips, “Lundqvist sucks!” “It’s all Hank’s fault!” “Cue deragtory nickname here” when the same terrible players are playing significant minutes in front of him and playing just as poorly in losses as wins.

          Wash, rinse, repeat.

          • I agree that Hank has a lot to do with what we are seeing. I think that some of the issue you are bringing up has to be attributed to first a compromised McDonagh, and now of course no McDonagh at all. He plays significant minutes. With him out, and an already suspect defense even with him, I don’t think it should be a shock that the process would break down.

            I’m as big a fan of Hank as you are, and yes, no question, the last few gams have been largely about him. But the Rangers have had a number of good games in this run. It hasn’t ALL been Hank. And certainly, the process is way better than it was earlier in the season.

            Yesterday for two periods, no doubt was a step back. But overall, I think this team is making strides. Where it goes from here, TBD.

          • They’ve had exactly 3 good games at 5×5 in the past month. Against Ottawa they had an xGF% of 60 and an xG of 2.09 to Ottawa’s xGF% of 39 and xG of 1.38; verse Columbus early it was xGF% of our 54% to their 45% and xG of 2.46 to their 2.09. And against Edmonton our xGF% of 58% beat their 41%, and our xG of 1.61 beat 1.12.

            They had 3 ‘meh’ games where specials teams put them over the top or lost them the game. Against Florida at 5×5 they were xGF%/xG 40.8/1.65 to Florida’s 59.1%/2.39% but special teams evened it out to our advantage of xGF% 51/49 and xG to 2.63/2.55.
            Verse Boston we controlled 5×5 at XGF% of 57% to 42% and xG 2.9 to 2.12. But special teams play brought it to xGF% of 51% Boston to our 48%, and xG of 3.1 for Boston and 2.93 for us.
            With Carolina, same story. 5×5 xGF% battle- 55% to 44%, xG 2.74/2.16. All situations however, we lost the xGF% with 53% to Car and 46% to us, and xG of 4.1 Car and 3.56 for us.

            The bad games you ask?
            TB- 5×5 xGF% 51, xG 1.59. All: xGF% 54, xG 2.35
            NYR- 5×5 xGF% 49, xG 1.51. All: xGF% 45, xG 1.96

            CHI: 5×5 xGF% 58, xG 2.45; All: xGF% 61, xG 3.62
            NYR: 5×5 xGF% 41, xG 1.76; All: xGF% 38, xG 2.3

            CBJ: 5×5 xGF% 64, xG 4.35; All: xGF% 63, xG 4.89
            NYR: 5×5 xGF% 35, xG 2.4; All: xGF% 36, xG 2.76

            DET: 5×5 xGF% 48, xG 2.75; All: xGF% 52, xG 3.47
            NYR: 5×5 xGF% 51, xG2.91; All: xGF% 47, xG 3.08

            VAN: 5×5 xGF% 61, xG 2.39; All: xGF% 58, xG 2.6
            NYR: 5×5 xGF% 38, xG 1.47; All: xGF% 41, xG 1.84

            Yes, the process is bad. Very bad. There were only 3 games where we didn’t rely on Henrik Lundqvist to either keep us in the game, or to win the game.

          • I respect your statistical approach and I do see your point. But the eye test has to be used too. I don’t consider the TB game a bad game. That team is simply better than we are man for man. That was a real good win IMO. Chicago the Rangers had an awful 5-7 minutes. It happens. Columbus, seems to me that was just more about Bob being Bob than anything else. I agree on the last two 100%.

            This is a very balanced league right now. I suspect that with the exception of probably TB and a few others at the moment, one could likely find lots of things that are concerns with just about every team that’s in the mix. The salary cap creates parity—aka mediocrity.

            My biggest concern, frankly, are the giveaways. We are just so sloppy with the puck. I think we are one of the worst teams in the league in theat regard. That needs to change and fast.

            Again, I would ask you to consider what the team would be like IF McDonagh had been playing at 100%. With the amount of big minutes he plays, taking him out of the mix is going to affect the process big time.

          • McDonagh wasn’t hurt last year. Same process as this year. Same results.

            Rinse, wash, repeat.

            Some of us are happy simply winning, good or ugly.

            Some of us would rather fix the process and underlying issues and have success when it matters.

      • Reen,

        Flatbush was observing the fact that Shattenkirk stands flatfooted looking for the pass. You attribute that to AV’s breakout system that looks for the long stretch pass, as if AV specifically is telling Shatty to remain static. That’s nonsense.

        So much absurdity with the AV criticism around here.

        • Soon Reena will try to convince us that the spread of ISIS and the growing North Korean threat was a direct result of the Rangers hiring AV as coach. 🙂

          • Funny, because I almost added an observation to my comment above that debating AV’s critics is like dealing with those online political trolls whose ideological rage blinds them and infects their every perception.

            However, I do not consider Reen to be of that variety, and I’ve always had reasonable back and forth with him, so I held back. But that analogy certainly is appropriate for a staggering amount of AV haters, especially over at BlueshirtBanter.

          • Is it neccassary to take a shot at the people who post at Blueshirt Banter? I happen to be one of them.

            If you don’t like the site, don’t read it or post on it. To classify people who post on another website as trolls because they don’t apply to your method of thinking is as “troll-like” as the people you’re calling “trolls”.

          • The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

            I’m referring to AV’s most insidious detractors, among whom, many frequent BlueshirtBanter. I did not impugn all who seek refuge there.

            And to say that calling someone a troll is akin to being a troll, that’s rubbish.

            There is a large contingent of folks, again many of whom hang around BlueshirtBanter, who channel everything through the lens of their disdain for AV. It’s beyond irrational. And it reminds me of the morons who blame nearly everything on whichever political figure isn’t properly aligned with their ideology.

            This isn’t about people not ascribing to my method of thinking. I don’t care whether you’re a fan of AV or not, I care that you’r analysis is based on critical thinking, and not absurd irrationality and bias.

            Case in point: over at the other BSB, AV got hammered for benching Smith. Many of those same people are now hammering Smith on a nightly basis. Yet, none have retracted their earlier opposition to his benching, because that wouldn’t align with the ideology that everything AV does must be opposed and derided.

            Buchnevich didn’t play in OT last night. That is an “immediate on the spot fireable offense” for AV, said one commenter.

            These are not the musings of rational minds.

          • Ce’ La vie if you think I’m protesting too much.

            Pretty easy to tell you’re guilty of exactly what you say you’re not as:
            A- most on Banter were AGAINST the Smith signing as it cost us Stepan when cheaper just as good options were available
            B- if you’re quoting other sites you say are irrational you’re reading it and quoting to stir pots.

        • When you force people out of habits and make them think while doing, things like not skating happen. That’s just human nature.

          What makes it AV’s fault is that this is basic excercise science, yet keeps on forcing round pegs into square holes rather than adapting to the talent at hand.

          Good things have happened in this stretch where they’re lugging it out, then carrying deep(as long as it’s not Holden going deep) as it breaks the shape of the forecheck, keep at it until the the forecheck adapts, then hopefully you’ve had enough practice to where your decision tree is second nature.

          • So you are now implying that AV, who I doubt has a background in kinesiolgy, is willfully disregarding the recommendations of the members of his staff that do? Again, your evidence is what exactly?

            Good things have happened recently. You just acknowledged that. So does AV get any credit for those “good things”? Or only when things aren’t working does he get the blame?

          • Noting changes to gameplay is merely an observation; attributing responsibility is beyond my remit.

            Players playing when they’re not effective(whether through injury or conditioning) is 100% on the coach. An inability to notice the drop in performance is also 100% on the coach.

          • And the better choices are…were..who? Nobody. That’s the point you are missing.

          • 1st off:
            Not to be pedantic, but kinesiology & exercise science are not the same thing; and if a coach is unfamiliar with the basic concepts of either, then he’s failing in his duties as a coach.

            As for who can replace an injured player, you’d have to talk to the GM about that. Last I checked, it’s next man up, except when your coach would rather play a one legged man instead of playing the next man up or calling up another.

        • Chris, it’s not all absurdity. I pride myself on being mostly “fair” about things regarding the Rangers.

          I personally have cited numerous examples where the coach has not been at his best, let’s put it that way.

          He’s a problem, though he finally is deploying players as they should have been right along. I guess better late than never, but my question is, why does it take so long?

          A lot of this is common sense, not hockey knowledge, but AV lets his huge ego get in the way of doing the best thing for the team as a whole.

          When a young player starts playing well then the AV supporters say “see? he did the right thing here.”

          Whereas I would say, “we would have seen this sooner if the player got the chance.”

          I guess it depends on which side of the fence you’re on. But make no mistake, the coach cost us playoff games last year. The playoffs is a time where an NHL coach is supposed to make a “positive” impact to earn his pay. That didn’t happen the last playoffs nor did it in playoffs before that as well. The criticism is well deserved, for the most part, IMO.

    • Too negative, sir. You underestimate a well coached, very hard working Cannuck team. The Rangers did what they had to do to win,,

      • Rangers definitely did not play their best game yesterday. In many respects, it was a poor showing.

        However, you’ve touched on an all too overlooked aspect of game analysis: there is an opposing team. Way too often, Rangers fans nitpick every mistake a player makes, every bad performance, every loss, and give all the agency to the Rangers. Whether they do well or do poorly, it’s 100% attributable to their own preparation, skill, execution, and coaching. Rarely does anyone account for the fact that there is another professional hockey club out there trying to counter the Rangers preparation, undermine their skill, disrupt their execution, and nullify their coaching.

        This is particularly evident with whoever the latest fan whipping boy is (Holden, Kampfer, etc). The mistakes made by these guys are not routine mistakes that every player makes under pressure by an opposing team, no the mistakes our villians make are always unforced acts of weaponized stupidity.

        And so the world turns.

  • Awesome getting all the possible points in these last three games, giving a home stretched Thanksgiving weekend with a day game too!

    Awesome weekend, the team is showing some sweet traits!

  • Nice to see us come back and take the 2 points. I didn’t think Hayes had a particularly good game.

    Too many times we tried to thread the needle instead of crashing the net.

  • I think the Canucks are a much better team that most people realize. They have a solid combination of skilled veterans (Vanek, Sedins, Eriksson) and talented young guys (Horvat is very good, Baertschi Hutton and Boeser also solid).

    I think most teams, including the blueshirts, go into games against them thinking it will be easy, hence the sluggish first (and second).

    The Rangers were badly outplayed this game but found a way to win, which is the sign of a good team.

    With how tight the race is shaping up to be in the Metro, we need all the points we can get.

  • I do want to point out to those (very few) anti-Fast folks out here that the Rangers reversal of fortune started just a few days after Quickie returned to the lineup. Is it all because of him? Of course not. But there’s no doubt in my mind his absence, along with the departures of two guys who wore a letter last year (Stepan and Girardi) and losing half their centers was enough to throw this flawed roster badly off-kilter for a bit. While there are still issues, Fast’s return, plus other guys stepping up to fill the void left by the departures of Stepan, Girardi and Lindberg, has helped to right the ship.

    Fast is one of those under-the-radar guys that doesn’t get the credit he deserves at times, but his value to the team is much greater than a lot of people realize.

      • I agree…I have mentioned that many times. Also reminds me of Nemchinov too. Not the point producer those guys were but just a lunch pail blue collar player that you just know makes the team better.

        • Totally agree. Fast is an unsung hero on the team and the locker room clearly loves him.

          If he doesn’t go hard to the net and score that goal yesterday, I don’t think we win that game.

        • Totally agree with the Nemchinov comparison. Erixon was great back in the day in shadowing the opposition’s top forwards.. which Fast doesn’t do as far as what I see.. but I always liked his hockey sense, and was damn glad they didn’t expose him for the expansion draft.. I would tell anyone who would listen that Lindberg was a better choice to be left exposed

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