Game Wrap-ups

Rangers (2) / Sabres (3) Game Thoughts

Probably the worst loss of the new NYR era

Despite my New Year’s Resolution to stay off Twitter during games (I mentioned this on the podcast, have you listened and subscribed yet?), I just can’t seem to help myself. However, Tyler has given me the ability to tackle tonight’s game thoughts post, which will help keep my attention diverted from that hellscape. Thanks Tyler!

  • Becky and I are part of a group text with some friends where each person submits a guess of who will score the first Rangers goal before each game. Tonight’s picks: Kreider, Fox, Kakko, Zibanejad and Panarin. Does anyone else do anything like this, or are we weirdos?
  • 6:36 PM ET: News breaks that Kaapo Kakko will start the game on the fourth line. Surely fan reaction will be reasonable and measured.
  • Jack Eichel plays on a line with Jimmy Vesey. Jimmy Vesey has 7 goals. How?
  • I was thinking to myself, “They really need to get to the first TV timeout without giving up a goal.” Welp, that didn’t happen. The KZB line and Staal-DeAngelo pairing got caught on a long shift and were able to clear, but only to center ice. Zemgus Girgensons came back on a quick counter and scored after a nifty move around a tired Staal and prone Georgiev.
  • This has been a bad start against a bad team that played last night.
  • The Rangers rebounded nicely in the second half of the period, similarly to Wednesday night vs. Toronto, except they haven’t been able to find the game-tying goal.
  • And just as the Rangers really start buzzing, the horn sounds to end the first period. Shucks!
  • Just learned that Larry David is at MSG tonight. Forget the game, we all win. Also, I’m no TV critic, but trust me when I say the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is excellent.
  • Fancy stats update after 1 (5v5):
    • Shot attempts: NYR 15, BUF 14
    • Scoring chances: NYR 5, BUF 5
    • High-danger chances: NYR 2, BUF 2
    • Expected goals: NYR 0.41, BUF 0.33
    • Summary: even period, but slight edge to the Rangers, who played better after a slow start.
  • Panarin is the only one with a clue offensively in the second period, so far. He is really flying tonight, though.
  • What do we think of Phil Di Giuseppe’s game? He seems like a really useful bottom six player, which makes the Brendan Smith as a forward thing that much more perplexing.
  • Adam Fox has totally locked down Jack Eichel tonight. Incredible to see, especially from a guy who was supposed to struggle defensively at the NHL level.
  • First great save of the game by either team… Georgiev comes up huge with a stop on Reinhart while the Rangers are killing the first penalty of the game.
  • David Quinn finally reunites Kakko with Chytil (Di Giuseppe on the other wing), and that line immediately creates several chances. BUT…
  • A Ryan Lindgren turnover leads to a Sam Reinhart breakaway, who roofs a backhander over Georgiev. This game is starting to take on a very ominous feel.
  • Kaapo Kakko, now back on the fourth line, with a second consecutive strong shift, including an incredible between-the-legs dangle to create a chance. It’ll be interesting to see if Quinn elevates him for the third period.
  • Fancy stats update after 2 (5v5):
    • Shot attempts: NYR 36, BUF 39
    • Scoring chances: NYR 17, BUF 14
    • High-danger chances: NYR 5, BUF 3
    • Expected goals: NYR 1.18, BUF 0.85
    • Summary: the Rangers continue to defend relatively well, but struggle to create offense at even strength.
  • The Rangers’ playoff hopes were already slim, but a loss tonight would be a death blow. The Rangers need to play at about a 1.5 point per game pace the rest of the way, meaning they needed at least 6 (if not 7) points on this four-game homestand. A loss here dashes those hopes.
  • Zibanejad draws a penalty with a nice rush to the net. Enormous power play here.
  • The power play created several good chances, but was unable to score. The momentum carried over, led by another strong Kaapo Kakko shift. The kid has been a beast and has earned more ice in this third period.
  • Looks like Quinn has loaded up his top line: Panarin/Zibanejad/Kreider. Fun!
  • Carter Hutton has made several good saves in this period, and his puck-handling has disrupted the Rangers’ forecheck all night. Would be great if the Rangers adjusted away from that with some soft dump-ins to the corner, but alas.
  •  LOL Jimmy Vesey just scored on a partial breakaway. Come on.
    • Alexandar Georgiev really needs to come up with a save there. Other than the save on Reinhart earlier in this game, this has been a pedestrian outing from the Ranger goalie.
  • What a pass by Artemi Panarin, living up to his “Spotlight Night” billing. Mika Zibanejad finally gets the Rangers on the board, but it’s likely too little, too late.
  • Rangers with a 4F/1D lineup on the ice. Now that’s awesome.
  • Kaapo Kakko draws a penalty with 1:59 left. This game remains interesting…
  • And the Rangers score! Kreider bangs home a rebound off a lightning quick rush up the ice and it’s 3-2!
  • Unfortunately it was indeed too little too late.
  • Final fancy stats:
    • Shot attempts: NYR 58, BUF 51
    • Scoring chances: NYR 32, BUF 20
    • High-danger chances: NYR 16, BUF 7
    • Expected goals: NYR 2.64, BUF 1.32
    • Summary: By the numbers, the Rangers deserved a better fate tonight, but they really didn’t test Hutton until the third period. Below-average goaltending continues to victimize the Blueshirts.

This was a game the Rangers absolutely had to have, and it’s one of their most disappointing and deflating losses since the rebuild began. The pitfalls of the three-goalie rotation are starting to rear their ugly head as well.

Leave your own hot takes in the comments below, and thanks again to Tyler for letting me take the wheel tonight. We’ll see you on Sunday, when the Rangers host the LA Kings at 6:00 PM ET.

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  • I seriously disagree on the goaltending. Georgiev gave the Rangers a chance to win tonight. He played well the entire game and kept his team in the game.
    All 3 goals against were high danger scoring chances. One can argue that the Vesey goal should have been stopped. The fact remains that Vesey got behind the defense with the puck. Just like the other 2 goals against, the defense needs to be better there.
    I think we are seeing the inevitable regression towards league average shooting percentage. Prior to the start of this game The Rangers dropped from tops (over 11%) in the NHL to 5th at 10.7%. They may remain near the top 10 in the league but there’s no way they were going to go 80+ games at 11.5% or whatever they were.
    I will forever defend Hank from the fans that want to put him down. He’s no spring chicken these days but with a league average back end in front of him, he plays like a solid #1 this year. Rather than the selfish, over the hill, bum fans depict him as.
    Still, I’d love to have Georgiev backing up Shestyorkin for the next 2-3 years. Combined the both of them would probably cost half what Hank does. They’d be good and young with the rest of the team. Winning and loosing together as a group.

    • I’m confused, though, Post. Is Hank your #1, or not? I don’t know that everyone is portraying Hank as a selfish bum. Most of the conversations I have are as follows, and this is pretty much how I feel. Hank can’t be the #1 now. It would seem to me that JD and Jeff, and Hank as well, understand that, whatever happens this season or next, Hank is not going to be the main goaltender for this franchise come October 2021. The playoffs are far away this season, not going to happen, especially after the performance last night. I’m assuming a reasonable team growth plan is to challenge for the playoffs next season, and be a solid top-6 franchise the following season. In my mind, the best way to do that with goaltenders is for Georgie and Igor to get the night-to-night NHL experience ASAP. That entails Hank being someplace other than on the ice. Now. Like right now. If the franchise thinks it’s Igor, then so be it, and let’s find out. Play him 23 of the last 29, and give Georgie the others. Tell him he’s the back-up. Trade him in the off-season, or in the next two weeks if you get a good offer. Sit Hank down and have a heart-to-heart. Tell him he’s going to play 17-20 games next year in a New York Ranger uniform; that’s it. If he wants to accept a trade to who-knows-where in the off-season, that’s fine. If not, you’re the back-up, then take your chances as a UFA the year after. Everybody loves Hank; that’s not the issue here. The issue is what’s best for the team going forward; that’s what JD and the rest of these guys make the money they do, to have these difficult conversations. Ask Eli Manning; it happens to the best of them. Father Time gets us all. Just MHO.

      Regards- orange

  • I think maybe coach Quinn is finally getting thru to the players. I notice they’re shooting the puck more and getting more scoring chances. Rather than relying on a few big chances and high shooting%. The Rangers are playing a more mature game even if the result wasn’t great.
    I would love to see this group get a taste of playoff hockey together as a group. However, I think there’s just too many teams to leapfrog in order to make the playoffs. Even if they could make up the points (they had games in hand on some teams in wild card position). I’m gonna root for them to make the playoffs until they are in or eliminated but I don’t really care if they get in. Just want them to continue improving until the end and I want Gorton to make good decisions with Kreider and/or the goaltending.

    Never gonna happen but it’d be a million cap dollars better if Hank would agree to go to Hartford and teach the goalies down there. It would still hurt having his cap salary on the books. I’d rather that over seeing Hank vilified by the fans as his skills wither with age.

    Keep Georgiev unless there’s a desperate team out there offering a great return. I don’t know why Shestyorkin can’t return to Hartford for a while.

    • The Rangers pull a no-show against one of the NHL’s worst teams, and you think this is proof that “coach Quinn is finally getting through to the players”?? His line combos were absurdly bad last night.

      Wow. Just wow. Quinn should be hitting the bricks after last night, not being complimented on his coaching performance.

      • Same players and same coach as against Toronto. Win vs. Toronto = great players. Loss vs. Buffalo = lousy coach. Something’s not clicking for me in that analysis. Did Quinn change his coaching style or strategy between games or did the players not perform as well against Buffalo? Or (heresy, I know) did Buffalo just come out and play better than the Rangers? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that DQ’s a great coach, but to constantly blame him for the inconsistent play of his players (some more than others) is just following the pack in baying for the head of someone to pin the blame on.

        • I’ve never said anything positive about Quinn. I think he’s a terrible coach. Last night was just the latest example of how much of a clown he is. Poor line choices. Poor motivational skills. Kakko was flying last night, yet still can’t buy a shift in the top 6. Meanwhile, Nasreddine and Hynes have had Hughes in NJ’s top 6 all year, because they knew it was a priority to develop the kid.

          Losing 3-2 at home to Buffalo is the type of loss that shouldn’t happen to this team anymore. I think Quinn bears responsibility as the coach.

  • Anyone still not convinced that Staal is one of the worst D men in the league needs to watch the Sabres’ first goal again. And again. And again. And again.

    DQ putting Kakko off the Chytil line and onto the 4th line, especially when Kakko’s play has picked noticeably since the break, is idiotic and just another example of why he has no clue.

    And Fast continues to do absolutely nothing for Panarin, other than taking up space on the ice.

    So, it really doesn’t matter the players on the team, with a totally over matched coach. I have said it for 2 months, I would rather have Knob from Hartford than this clown. DQ’s classic line of the night: “I didn’t see this coming.” Oh really? The Rangers have been a .500 club all year, so what were the odds that they would go 2-2 in 4 straight home games? 90%? Clueless and over matched.

    And the Sabres even played the night before and the 3rd game in 4 nights, lol. I guess the big bad Sabres were not softened up enough for the Rangers.

    Just totally sell off and be done with it already.

    • JFTR, one quarter of the goals the opponents have scored against the Rangers when Marc Staal is on the ice have occurred in the last three games, an alarming trend.

  • Tony

    “DQ’s classic line of the night: “I didn’t see this coming.” Oh really? ”
    LOL , how true, and I’m glad that I’m not the only one who’s saying he is way over his head against real coaches!!!!!!!

  • does anyone remember ADA’s behavior on the bench a couple of weeks ago when he has brushing off DQ’s reaction towards him, OR more recently the comments made by Lemieux when he said something to the effect of it being a joke where or which line he and others are on …

    is he losing the room? are some of the players as confused as we are at lines changes, benchings, etc?

  • I’ve been ambivalent regarding the assessment of Coach Quinn & wondering if he was doing a decent job or barely treading water. Well I’m convinced he’s drowning in the deep end, he needs to put his swimmies back on and go back to the shallow end (college metaphor☺️).

    It was as if the team said screw this crap and turned it on in the last 3 minutes to almost pull this out. I saw the look on Mika’s face after each of the last two goals he wasn’t enjoying it.

  • Pitiful effort last night.
    I normally defend DQ but enough is enough.
    Chytil is the second best center on our team.
    Kakko is our future too. Stop with the overthinking.

    Kreids/Mika/Buch
    Panarin/Chytil/Kakko
    Lemieux/Strome/Fast

    PS. If Jeff Skinner is a $9M man what is Kreids worth…..?

  • Not sure what your criteria for worst loss of the season is but The cbj game with the strome change is the one that made me not care about the standings anymore this year.

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