Game Wrap-ups

Vintage Lundqvist not enough on Vic Hadfield Night

On the night the Rangers raised Vic Hadfield’s number 11 to the Garden rafters, the current Blueshirts were unable to honor him with a win.  Henrik Lundqvist – who will undoubtedly have a jersey retirement ceremony of his own someday – was incredible in this one, but that wasn’t enough, as the Rangers squandered a 3-0 lead and fell to the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in a shootout.

The Rangers came into this game having lost four out of five, largely because their defensive zone structure had abandoned them.  Through the first two periods, the Rangers corrected some of those faults and limited the Jets’ chances, particularly at even strength.  The third period meltdown undid those small steps forward, and Winnipeg’s superior talent ultimately (and deservedly) won out in this one.  Onto the goals…

NYR 1, WPG 0

Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast combined on a pretty give-and-go after Zibanejad exited the penalty box.  The Rangers created very little in the first period, but they made this one count.  The goal was Fast’s second of the year and first since opening night.

NYR 2, WPG 0

After weathering the storm through the first 9 minutes of the period, the Rangers put together a few good shifts in a row and got Winnipeg chasing.  Ryan Strome tracked down his own rebound and threw a no-look pass to Marc Staal down low.  Staal took his time and sniped (yes, sniped!) a wrist shot into the far-side netting.  A pretty goal for the Ranger veteran.

NYR 3, WPG 0

In the lead-up to this goal, the Rangers spent most of their two minute power play fumbling the puck around and failing to get set up.  As the power play expired the Rangers got organized, and Mika Zibanejad fired a shot towards the net that Chris Kreider deftly tipped past Connor Hellebuyck for his 14th goal of the season.

NYR 3, WPG 1

Blake Wheeler fed Mark Scheifele for a one-timer from the slot.  More importantly, the Jets were on the power play because Brendan Smith committed a mindless cross-checking penalty which landed him on the bench for the remainder of the game.  He’ll likely find himself in the “Quinn Bin” (I stole that one from Steve Valiquette who said it on the post-game show; thanks Vally) when the Rangers play again next Saturday.

NYR 3, WPG 2

Just 2:26 after the Scheifele goal, Jack Roslovic let loose a seeing-eye wrist shot that found the back of the net.  Lundqvist was screened by multiple players and the shot was perfectly placed.

NYR 3, WPG 3

Brian Little – Ranger killer since the days that the Jets were known as the Atlanta Thrashers – slammed home the rebound of a Nikolai Ehlers shot.

Shootout winner by Mark Scheifele

As the third period wore on, the Rangers were simply unable to deal with the Jets’ consistent pressure.  That continued into the overtime period, where Lundqvist was forced to make 8 more saves, a few of the spectacular variety.  However, he couldn’t stop Scheifele’s shootout winner.


The Rangers did a fairly good job limiting the Jets’ chances from in close.  Per, the high danger chances were 8-8 at even strength and 10-9 Winnipeg in all situations.  Still, the Jets dominated puck possession and zone time in this one and they were deserving winners.  Nights like this prove that while the Rangers are capable of hanging in most games, their best effort will often still fall short.

Some unorthodox scheduling means that the Rangers have five days off before their next game.  This is not the league mandated “bye week”, so the the team will be able to practice.  For us here at the blog, it gives us a chance to take stock of the season – and the rebuild – so far.

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  • 10m tied up between smith and skjei is worse than the 12 tied up between Girardi and Staal. the org just repeatedly makes the same mistakes. I would have smith on waivers today.

    Coverage prob could have been better on tying goal … however who on nyr can unload a shot there like ehlers did? All of these big time shooters on WPG – do they have character?

    (One positive sidenote. NYR crushed them on faceoffs including howden who was 7/10.)

    • Seriously? You’re complaining about Skjei on a night where he didn’t even play? Smith was awful last night, but once again the true culprit on this defense was the abysmal pairing of Staal and Pionk. They were atrocious last night, as they are most nights.

      Pionk is starting to remind me of Marc-Andre Bergeron—true skill on the power play, and virtually useless in every other facet of playing NHL defense. Would like to see him scratched at this point but obviously that ain’t happening.

      • You can’t compare apples and oranges. First pair defense is hard to play. yes, it is true that Staal and Pionk are overmatched in this assignment, while other defensemen seem to do okay with easy tasks. But that does not mean they are not the best defensive pair the Rangers have.

    • If it was 2012-15 all over again than I still wouldn’t trade G and Staal for Skjei and Smith. AV was right on the money to keep Skjei in a sheltered 3rd pair.

      Every team has a legit top line center/winger tandem that will hurt you all game long. There were a few Pegs player’s that could make up this teams 1st line. Another All-star weekend without any of the Rangers forwards getting picked ( not surprised).

  • Hank was elite for the first two periods then let in 3 of 10 shots on easy saves. The last one he kicked the rebound out to the shooters.

    Hank can still put in elite performances but only for two of 3 periods and defitntely not in the shootout. As his breakdown caused the team to lose the game last night.

    1st goal too far in his net. 2nd goal easily stoppable but he had his glove low again. 3rd goal what a joke of a save.

    Trade him while you can. His consistency is starting to go south and should be traded while he still has value or retire after this season.

    You could also point to being outcoached 42 shots to 19 with 8 in the 3rd and 3 in ot.

    He turtled and lost.

    • not sure being consistently outshot is a product of coaching. probably more reflective of talent discrepancy right now. that’s quantitative and qualitative.

      • I agree, being objective, we played a legit Stanley Cup contender while we are a playoff pretender. If not for Hank the game is over by the start of the third period except for the fact that our guys played hard and were opportunistic and scored 3 goals. None the less if you have ever played, coached or watched a game that had the elements of last nights game you are doing at a lot of puckering in the third period and basically trying to get through 5 minute increments. As Quinn said you want to find the balance of attacking while being mindful of giving odd man rushes. So what happens Smith takes a mindless penalty and it results in a PP goal. That blows the first 5 minutes. Jets score a few minutes later and with more than half the period to play they score again. Human nature takes over and the rangers are now playing “Katie bar the Door”. The tying goal is a combination of mistakes. First off the jet player skates unopposed with speed through the neutral zone. Our D gap is huge so by the time we try to engage the shooter he is at the top of the circle and unloads. We were unable to block or get stick on puck and a rebound comes directly on the stick of a jet driving as he should to the net. Our back checker, a rookie, is puck watching and more in a glide mode than trying to engage his check. ( in a back checking drill you would emphasize, identify your guy, get inside body position, get stick on stick, engage without taking a penalty and don’t watch the puck, you know it may come to the opponent driving the net) Sounds like a lot but this is the NHL. The perfect storm presented itself, mindless penalty and PP goal to change momentum. Big gap, and not enough on the back check. Both Quinn and Hank steered clear of any negatives about the Smith penalty. I’m sure everyone is pissed at the dumb penalty but that alone was not the sole reason of going into OT.

    • Hey Mikeyyy—just wanted to let you know that your assessment of last night’s game is a joke. And that your idea of goalie analysis is poor. And that if you think Hank lost this game—a game where the Rangers were doubled up in shots on goal—then you’re actually pretty stupid, or hopelessly prejudiced against Lundqvist. I think it’s a combo of the two, myself.

      The Jets didn’t even blink when they were down three goals—if you actually followed the NHL instead of just negatively complaining about the Rangers, you’d realize that Winnipeg has been doing this a lot of late. They have arguably the 2nd best offense in the entire league, they have size, meanness, and skill. They are a legit Cup contender. And that’s why NYR lost, they can’t come close to the talent level of Winnipeg.

      • That’s ok most of your posts are jokes. I watch and have watched nhl hockey for 28 years. So go blow yourself.

        Ha k sucked in the 3rd period and lost that game for them. Bottom line he’s the goalie and needs to stop pucks.

        • Real clever response there, Mikeyyy. Sounds like you’re not getting enough oxygen to your brain. Or at least I hope that’s the case.

    • Lol. Go read the comments from the Jets Coach about Hank’s game. He was extraordinary last night and you not being able to see that says a lot about you and nothing about him…

    • I tried but simply cannot respond to such utter nonsense without violating the comment rules.

    • What game did you watch? Lundqvist was the only reason it was competitive. Maybe he watched the same game Giannone did. Go listen to what Paul Maurice had to say about our goalie. That’s respect.

  • Still sux being a second tier team. Winnepeg is easily a few rungs above us on the talent ladder. It is tough to compete in this league unless you have quality and depth. Chytil, Andersson, Fogarty, Lettier and Belesky in the lineup show you how far we need to go. Didn’t even comment on the defensive side, where we need at least 2 real defenders.

    • Your assessment of them being a “second tier team,” IMO, is being more than generous! These are the kinds of games we are going to get during a rebuilding period. Again, you can’t look at wins and losses…no matter how much they might be in the hunt for a Playoff spot. Its about evaluating who they can go forward with and if the young players in the lineup are showing signs of growth. That’s all we can really ask for right now. It sucks that they wasted another one of Hank’s gems, but hey, he knew going into this what he was playing behind. Its a process…and anyone who believed this was going to be a fast, and relatively painless rebuild was kidding themselves. I mean, come on…Smith, Staal, and Claesson are 3 of your 6 defensemen? Its gonna take some time….and a lot of patience!(and Advil!).

  • Yikes, the 3rd period did not go well and that is an understatement on my part. Hank had been standing on his head to keep them in the game all night.

    The tying goal presents a good example of what the Rangers have been doing poorly in recent games: The Jets skated virtually unmolested with speed through the neutral zone, forcing Claesson and Shatty to try to break up the rush. Back on their heels, they were scrambling to get in position. While the Rangers might have problems on the blue line, defense is a team responsibility and the forwards just did not do their job adequately on that play.

    Pionk is young and skilled but needs to learn to be a lot better in the defensive zone. However, the kid is given the toughest assignments and plays a lot of minutes per game, so he is being given a great deal of responsibility. With his smarts and hockey IQ, I think he can learn to be better. Claesson takes the body and often looks smooth, but he has gotten caught out of position at times. Still I think he’s played reasonably well. Tony D. has been hustling and is the defenseman who has shown the most improvement while cutting down on his stunod moments. I like that he doesn’t shy away from mixing it up, (I got a kick out him shoving around a Jet who was a head taller than him last night.) Giving him a occasional game off to review his play actually seems to help him. Smith is what he is, and should be trade bait (but his contract could be a problem.)

    This season is a learning year for a lot of the players on the team. I enjoy the games more when I keep that in mind.

    • I see little reason for optimism with Pionk defensively. He’s too small, doesn’t have great lateral movement, and the hockey IQ he regularly displays on offense is nowhere in evidence when it comes to his defensive game. His positioning is awful, he anticipates poorly, and is constantly looking to go up ice with the forwards. Pionk’s inattention to the defensive side of his game is really puzzling to me.

      He’s the type of defenseman NYR doesn’t need more of, they’ve already got Shatty and DeAngelo to handle the role of defensively shaky/offensively solid defensemen. 3 players on one defense like this, alongside the likes of Staal and Brendan Smith, is a recipe for team failure.

      • No smaller than Leetch and he could play a pretty decent defensive game as the years passed and his experience grew. It was always overshadowed by his offensive talent, but there was a lot to say about Leetch’s smart and controlled d’ game.

        You have to figure in that ADA and Pionk are basically just rookies. Sure they had long cups of coffee in the last year or so, but neither one has even played 90 NHL games (89 for ADA and 54 for Pionk). I’m more than willing to give both another year or two to round out their games before declaring either or both as defensively incompetent.

        • Pionk shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence as Brian Leetch, give me a break. There are absolutely no similarities between the two players. Leetch was lefthanded, had oceans more skill on both sides of the puck, and was a legit first-pair defenseman during his entire 18-year career in the NHL. His stickhandling, passing, and skating were all incomparably better than Pionk’s skill set. To even compare the greatest American-born NHL defenseman to a 3rd pair, one-dimensional player like Pionk is an insult to Leetch. You keep bringing this comparison up, and it’s not one rooted in fact or ability.

          And I’d say that DeAngelo has roundly outplayed Pionk this season, and that Pionk rather than DeAngelo should be the guy in the pressbox more often. Pionk has been quietly terrible on D, hiding his inefficiency behind gaudy offensive numbers that are largely generated on the power play. I realize the guy produces well on the power play, but so did Marc-Andre Bergeron.

          • I have to agree with MC on the invalidity of the Leetch comparison. They are not very similar as far as I can see.

            I think I am more willing to chalk up to inexperience and tough assignments some of Pionk’s defensive lapses than MC, but it is true that Pionk has to improve a lot in the defensive zone. I do like DeAngelo’s skating ability better. While Pionk is capable of rushing the puck up the ice, he does not seem to recover and close gaps in the defensive end nearly as well as Tony. I don’t know whether or not he can he improve on that through practice and coaching.

          • I was only making one comparison to Leetch, his SIZE and the fact that as a young d’man Leetch was no prize defensively. He grew into it. Come on guys, stop reading things into statements for the sake of disagreeing.

          • It’s a terrible comparison, and you have repeatedly made it in regard to Neal Pionk. Nobody’s putting words in your mouth. And I’ll say it again—Leetch was a 1st pair guy for his whole career, you cannot justifiably compare a 3rd pairing guy like Pionk to a 1st pair Hall of Faner like Leetch. Pionk will be lucky to have a 7-year career in the NHL, whereas Leetch played at a 1st pairing level of play for 18 seasons. Brian Leetch was a point-a-game player for his first seven years in the NHL, there are no comparisons to be made between Leetch and Pionk unless you’re intending to make Pionk look bad.

          • Yeah, you’re bordering on the absurd now MC. Pionk doesn’t possess half the skill of Leetch, that said he’s comparable in size and an offensive defenseman — that’s the comparison, it is LIMITED — I’ve never indicated any more than that, but you hear the name Leetch in the same sentence as Pionk and you have a knee-jerk reaction. Stop, read and understand. You said he was too small, I said: “No smaller than Leetch and he could play a pretty decent defensive game as the years passed and his experience grew.” That’s the extent of MY comparison.

          • Again, Tanto, it’s a poor comparison that you’ve repeatedly made in regard to Pionk’s development. It would be like comparing Sergei Federov’s early days in the NHL to somebody like Alexei Zholtok. There’s only one or two guys in the league who even warrant such a comparison, and that’d be Erik Karlsson or Kris Letang, and even these two were inferior to Leetch in the defensive zone. You sound like someone who didn’t really see Brian Leetch play, honestly.

            Your whole “stop, read, understand” comment is really pompous. Stop comparing gold to copper, then maybe people won’t take issue with what you say.

          • MC, you can’t take what someone says and ascribe meaning that doesn’t exist just to support your claims. The words are clearly written and the meaning easy to understand. To point to one or two obvious similarities is not the same as trying to compare two players as being talent-wise similar.

          • sounds like you want to kiss and date TonyD – you must have some things in common with him

          • Wow, how did you know that bald 23-year old Trumpers from New Jersey were my type? Idiot.

          • Re: ADA, I’ve beaten his drum since we got him so you’ll get no disagreement from me.

  • I seem to be able to jinx players as soon as I talk positively about them so I am hoping the opposite is also true. Cause I bought my girl a Skjei jersey and I told her to burn it after the Canadians game. He is atrocious this year.

    Pionk is horrible also but with 54 games under his belt and higher level on talented opposition and the occasional Staal flop I can’t really be upset with the kid. He tries to bring his best each night and shows a much higher upside then anyone else on this d corps.

    I guess I am trying to say is I can accept Pionk gaffs with the cap hit and experience level but skjei should be worlds better and I feel he is getting worse by the game. I would rather Pionk vs 1 line opposition then Skjei. And apparently so does Quinn.

    DeAngelo I feel is playing a much more reserved game when he actually gets to play. You don’t really notice him which in my opinion is a good thing for a defender. It means on a team like this…. he is handling his assignments well and playing a conservative game unless on the PP. He battles in the corners and does well.

    Classeon has actually impressed me defensively. He is a solid player and has great to good gap positioning and is a nice shut down defender. He needs a little work on his stick and on his positioning when playing 2 on 1 breaks. Skjei should be forced to watch how he plays every shift. Him and Shatty should just sit a video session and just watch him play on a loop for 24 hours.

    P.s. I am seeing Zucc going this week. Long week of no playing and practice and I just think they have been looking for the right deal recently but can’t seem to pull the trigger for what they have been offered. I think the front office pulls the trigger this week at some point maybe a prospect and a 2nd rounder. If it doesn’t happen then I feel Zuc is here for good. He basically gave them his permission to trade him and let everyone in the hockey world know he is on the market with that interview the other day.

  • Just finished reading all 30+ comments and have to smile. While I don’t understand why someone would waste time hanging the loss on Hank (except to dangle raw meat); I see the mis-read of Tanto’s Leetch comment as simply a response by a real Ranger fan who is frustrated.
    As to the game – I can’t recall if Smith saw the ice again after his idiotic crosscheck? I was waiting for the Rangers to open the door to a Winnipeg team that has Patrik Laine on the 2nd line…..they didn’t disappoint! And if I could have laid money on the culprit beforehand, I would have bet it all on Brendan Smith! If my memory serves the ref gave Smith two freebies but called him on the third. He is simply not a smart hockey player. He is physical, has a good shot but just seems to lose his mind out there.
    The thing that I am most grateful for is David Quinn. I love the fact that he keeps the message simple and immediately pulls the trigger when guys like Smith act out. LGR

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