Game Wrap-ups

Rangers get walked over by Buffalo, lose in shootout

The Rangers needed two points in this one. They came away with one against the worst team in the NHL. That won’t cut it. While Linus Ullmark was solid in net for Buffalo, and certainly made some great saves, Buffalo walked all over the Rangers from start to finish, including OT and the shootout. This was not the same game as Thursday, when the Rangers were dominant, but they were similar in that Buffalo got great goaltending.

The Rangers were very passive in this one. They allowed the Sabres to skate through the neutral zone with tremendous speed, thus ceding the blue line and, given the speed, continued offensive pressure. Igor Shesterkin played very well, but it wasn’t enough to steal both points. There’s a solid case that the Rangers wouldn’t even have one point if not for him in this one.

Some positives though: Vitali Kravtsov looked good. He’s strong along the boards, and the effort is certainly there. I noticed him circling around the slot and high slot areas, so he’s looking to get into the high danger areas as well. Also David Quinn gave the kids some important minutes. They didn’t fumble it, at least not worse than anyone else would have tonight, so that’s a positive too.

Rangers 1, Sabres 0 – The hard shot pass

This was a strong play by Chris Kreider, recognizing the streaking Mika Zibanejad would draw attention, and his hard pass would create an opportunity in the corner. This was recognition off the prior Colin Blackwell play, where his pass off Ullmark’s pads almost led to a Ryan Lindgren goal. This time around, the puck in the corner led to Ullmark getting tied up with his own defenseman, and Artemi Panarin had an empty net.

Rangers 1, Sabres 1 – Trapped

The Sabres trapped four Rangers in the offensive zone, leading to a two-on-one the other way. Ryan Lindgren took away the pass across to Taylor Hall, but Casey Middlestadt was able to beat Shesterkin anyway.

Rangers 2, Sabres 1 – Adam Fox for Norris

Adam Fox looked off the entire Sabres team, which opened a clear lane to a wide open Artemi Panarin. Taylor Hall was in No Man’s Land on this one. Panarin isn’t his man, but he’s just in the middle of nowhere.

Rangers 2, Sabres 2 – Turnover

Sam Reinhart forced Panarin into a turnover along the boards. Kyle Okposo came away with the puck, a quick feed to Victor Oloffson, and the game was tied.

Shot Heatmap – No Bueno

This is just flat out awful. Buffalo had full control of the third period. Yes, they were pressing. But the Rangers were way too passive, allowing a ton of speed through the neutral zone and sustained offensive zone pressure. The Rangers lucked out here.

Skater Results – Third Pair Yikes

This was a rough one for Libor Hajek and Brendan Smith. The pairing is mostly propped up by Smith, but I saw a few times when he was out of position. One that really stuck out was when he laid a hit on Tage Thompson up at the half wall in the third period. That is not where he should be at all.

A shootout loss to Buffalo puts a big damper in the Rangers playoff hopes, however slim they were. They have two days off to regroup, but this was not a good look for a team looking to make a push. There’s not much else to say about this one.

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  • Its odd that a mistake by Smith is noted when Fox was the last man back on the first 2 on 1 goal by Buffalo. Fox also got caught up ice when the Rangers were short handed. Yes Adam should be in the running for the Norris, but he needs to pick his spots better when jumping into play. Otherwise he is more of a rover then he is a defenceman.

    • Panarin was covering for Fox on the point and pinched up with three skaters already in deep. That’s what lead to the 2-on-1 – a bad decision by Panarin.

      • Cut Panarin a little slack. He scored two goals, didn’t he? I think the game shouldn’t even have been this close and tight to begin with. The coach got them to play a methodical, stay back, stick checking game while he should have let them go for it more especially against a team like Buffalo.

    • And Brendan Smith is more of an oaf than an actual good defenseman—what’s your point? Who would blame this game on Fox? the third pair for NY was AHL-level quality last night.

      The coach plays Fox 28+ mins in back to back games against the worst team in hockey. This would be hilarious if it wasn’t so damned sad.

  • Buffalo has a street cone for a goaltender and the Rangers basically didn’t attempt a shot in the shootout. Pathetic.

    • Ullmark has a .921 save percentage this season. Whatever went wrong in Buffalo basically started when Ullmark got hurt. The guy is 7-5-3 with the absolute worst team in hockey. Which, by the way, is a better winning percentage than Igor Shesterkin has.

  • DQ has no system and Rangers not a playoff team. Time to let the kids play to let them grow. Every game win or loose same thing same story same garbage from the coach. Think players and definitely the fans hear him talk and it sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown..whawhat wha whawhat wha etc. This show is getting old fast.

    • A critical and spot on comment Anthony!

      At this point roll 3 lines old school and spot Blackwell on pk.

      Kids should see 15+ minutes/game minimum.

    • Agree about the system, disagree about this team being not a playoff team. Not saying that they have a good chance of making it but this is very deep and talented team that has been under performing. They simply do not play for this coach. There is no core leadership and this is probably how DQ prefers it.

      I do not know which former coach is available and a good match. I would just add that with so many European players (Zab, Ponarin, Butch, Chytil, Kakko, Kravtsov) don’t dismiss looking for the candidate there. Do not know any candidate there but I am sure there should be some who could be a good match

      Playing Blackwell the same minutes Ponarin(17.59) played with Ponarin getting a lot of minutes in PP means that Blackwell played more 5 on 5. Seeing Blackwell and Rooney in PP2 and Blackwell in OT over skill players with speed is travesty

      Kids looked good last night. All of them had some good moments. Lafs is not progressing well. He needs a better center to play with. Have to say that with this coach I cant see kids grow much. The coach has his record to prove it

  • Gauthier played well, Trouba too … Kravtsov had a few moments … Smith was an anchor all night for Hajek, he looked slow and out of it tonight.

    Unacceptable result with plenty of blame to spread around … they’re still playing too cute, too many high risk passing. Yes we all love the pretty highlight tic-tac-toe goal, but winning takes priority.

    • yeah, Hajek will be part of trade eventually. Howden too. We need to keep Gaut another year. He could end up being really good and now is not the time to let him go. Time will tell

  • Quinn played the 3rd line in the 3rd, NO COMPLAINTS.

    The Buffalo goalie was spectacular.

    • Enough of the opposing goalie being spectacular…..Here is the deal….We are up 2-1 with chances to increase our lead, but since we are the passing team…of course we don’t pad the lead, and of course…Buffalo Ponies tie the game….once again the team takes off another game…..and it’s on the coach…JD better wake the heck up…….it’s time to start searching for a new coach…period….

      • Bro, forget about the playoffs, let it go.

        I WANT TO SEE THE KIDS PLAY!!

        Happy Easter all, lol.

        • I want to see all of them play too but under this coach it is legit to ask how productive it is. At least it has not been.

          Let’s go thru the coach record with young players

          1. Lias could not make it. He publicly criticized the coach and the organization. No matter what you think of Lias he had points of concerns that has not been addressed
          2. Kravtsov was TSN number one prospect in 2019-2020. Yet he could not make the team and none of responsibility was taken for his fall by the coach or organization. Similar to Lias
          3. Graves was traded because they could not identify the talent. Yes, GM made the trade but the coach played the role in it too.
          4. Hajek was the key payer in Mac deal. He has not developed very well either.
          5. Kaako had looked phenomenal everywhere he played prior to joining Rangers. He started showing his talent. But you can see his play is very tense. He is playing not to make any mistakes
          6. Lafs. You can barely find him on the ice. Kravtsov was much more visble last night than Lafs. Has anyone seen any progress from his first game to last night game?
          7. Gauthier is a real good talent. Has been completely placed in a role playing and I still do not understand what his role is

          I know we have good stories with Fox, Lindgren. And they certainly deserve the credit for it. Miller is too but should have probably played in the minors for 20-30 games before joining the team.

          So my point is that how beneficial to play for the coach who whether you like it or not only has not developed any young talent but has in many instances showed a detrimental effect.

          The bottom line is this organization should look deeper at their own record. Hiring DQ as the best development coach is oxymoronic

          • You’re preaching to the choir my friend.

            It became obvious to me that Quinn was not the guy after the last regular season. And then was confirmed with a strong stamp of authority in the Canes’ series, where the Rangers were unprepared, outplayed, and badly out coached.

            We are probably stuck with him no matter what happens this year. But you saw, as well as the world did, how much better the team looked under Knob as the temporary coach. Forget about wins and losses, they played with energy and structure.

            So, I said that the transition would be seamless. Knob is already in the org.

            Bottom line is, and I talked to a lot of people in hockey who knows way more than me, and I cannot not find one person to say that Quinn is the guy for this job. As a matter of fact, they all think he’s terrible.

            Quinn can coach in college, where talent outweighs everything else. But that does not work in the NHL. Give me Knob or even Gallant. Keep Martin as the D coach and move forward.

            But to your point, Quinn IS NOT the guy to develop our players, but they still have to play, regardless.

          • I do not know who calls the shots for the team. I still remember the shot from the draft last year when Rangers were selecting Schneider. Did not look to me that JD was the main man.

            Everyone in organization need accountability. Players, coaches, management, scouts. If DQ stays we will know that it is strictly a political decision

            I knew he was a bad coach before they hired him. But anyone could have seen it after first 10-15 games. After 1-2 season everyone knew that he was not only a bad coach but terrible talent developer. This is not subjective.It is a fact

      • I agree that many times we say the other goalie was good when they were mediocre, but Linus is actually good and was pretty damn good last night … the save on Kravtsov alone was a game saver.

        • He’s a top goalie in the league playing for a sh-tty team, with no national exposure.

          • Nothing against the goalie. He was good. But how many quality scoring chances Rangers generated? The goalie in the game before looked like Bordeur too

          • The generation of scoring chances were most definitely there, but the Rangers, as a group, chose not to shoot within those chances. That’s why they lost.

            And in Brooks’ article today, Strome basically told Quinn to eff off about shooting for quantity as opposed to quality. I have no problem with this, because Vally said that goals are scored in the NHL, “east to west” or side to side.

            But here’s the thing, the Rangers are taking to the “one too many passes” range. It’s ok to pass to set up, but that 2-3 passes, not 4-5. So that’s where Strome is wrong.

            Any time a forward is in the slot, within 15 feet of the net, that shot has to be taken. End of story.

          • The issue is not just with shooting. They are very predictable. There are not much openings to shooting. They need to reset their PP. Ask yourself how they were the top 5 PP ( I might be wrong with it) last year and now they are at the bottom. DQ changes everything all the time except PP1 and the system. They are very easy to defend against for any team

          • well, to be fair, the biggest difference in this years and last years PP is Zib’s shooting %. last year they went in and this year not so much.

            and I have said this for a very long time, the Rangers have very talented players, BUT their “hands” around the net suck badly. Think about it, how many rebound goals do they get? or “put back” goals? not many. and these are the types of goals that get scored on the PP, along with deflections.

          • IMO. The biggest difference is ADA. As much as we all love Fox, ADA was a better manager. Also with Fox being now in PP1 the time management has shifted. Second unit was surely better with Fox than with Trouba

            I know this is not a popular opinion but ADA was a real good offensive defenseman.

          • Actually I do not think that people disagree with ADA, offensively. He was actually elite offensively, last year. One of the best D men from their own blue in to the opponents’ goal line.

            So yeah, part of it is ADA. But honestly, I think that Fox has exceeded ADA’s play from last year, so that makes it a wash there.

            I have to look to see how many PP goals Zib had last year.

          • Zib had 15 PPG and 27 PP pts in 57 games last year.

            This year he has 6 and 8 in 37.

          • And? ADA had nothing to do with that?

            Disagree with you ADA was better than Fox and also having Fox at PP2 had an impact on overall numbers. You do not have to look just at the numbers. Just check zone entries, skating and passing.

            Now you have Fox at ADA place and Trouba at Fox. If you want to go by numbers check ADA numbers last year and compare with Fox and then compare Fox with Trouba this year. That shall give you a better picture

          • Fox is better this year than ADA was last year. I have no doubt that ADA had a positive impact on the PP, but we’re talking a significant drop off, with basically the same forwards.

            Zibs #s from last year to this year are the difference between the Rangers making the playoffs or not making the payoffs. Which, to me, is not the goal this year anyway.

          • “Fox is better this year than ADA was last year. I have no doubt that ADA had a positive impact on the PP, but we’re talking a significant drop off, with basically the same forwards.”

            Not on PP. The numbers don’t lie. Compare goals between two. I am sure Fox had more goals on PP than this year which proves the points I made above

  • Too much passing and not enough shooting. Also the deployment and matching of lines by Quinn was not good. Still say that the Rangers need an experienced NHL head coach. The system is just not working. Too many mixed up lines on any given night, players scattered all over and little synergy.
    On a positive note, will agree Kratsov looked very good, Shesterkin was excellent, Gautier is getting shots on goal and the Breadman delivered. Will Quinn ever start keeping the lines together every shift and stop this mix and match stuff?

  • Was that playoff quality hockey from the Rangers, or what?

    You can really see the impact Quinn has on this team, after his absence: it’s a negative one.

    • It’s funny, after see the minutes distribution last night, I wonder if the FO had a “chat” with DQ after his comments the day before. About everything being about winning.

      It gives me hope that maybe the FO IS NOT on board with that type of thinking.

      • That’s how I saw it too. The change in how he rolled the 4 lines was too dramatic to be coincidence.

        • I agree.

          With Gaut with Rooney and Blackwell, no reason not to roll 4 lines. Though Rooney has lost his luster a little bit (not surprisingly). Maybe Morgan gets a look soon.

  • When you have all that talent you need to put a winning roster together and you still can’t pull it off…you might be an ex nhl coach.

    I want knobby. Forget about the Dairy Queen, Knoblauch ftw.

  • Just wanted to add the our coaching genius played Colin Blackwell for nearly 18 minutes last night. Blackwell got more ice than Strome, Chytil, Kakko, Lafreniére, Rooney, Kravtsov, and Gauthier.

  • Was there a reason Quinn wasn’t sent home once his COVID-19 stint was over? Maybe, a league or union restriction? If knobs was still running the show, it would be a welcome continuation.

    • I hate to say it but the team looked better under Knoblauch than under Quinn. Knobs matched the lines better against the opposition and in situational play put out the right players at the right time. An argument can be made that he’s a far better strategist

  • I didn’t see the game but reading the Rangers didn’t shoot enough and played too cute…well, that is what happens when you draft the same type of players year after year….all east-west, no north-south…rinse repeat.

    Blackwell got 18 minutes?, does that sound like a coach looking to develop or a guy who no longer has Howden at his disposal so he had to find another teachers pet.

    I liked the hire at the time…all the press clippings were great…fake news…this guy is in over his head…bring in Jerry Gallant

  • Buffalo has been skating and playing much better under their new coach, and their goalie stepped up and made some fantastic saves. Lately, the Rangers have been overpassing and not going to the net enough. Give the Sabers some credit, they really hustled in this one. At least we got a point. PS I think I am beginning to have more confidence in coach Kris Knoblauch that recently filled in for Quinn when he was sick.

  • I think Quinn has done a terrible job handling our personnel. But last night was different, and we shouldn’t complain just for the sake of complaining. He rolled all 4 lines, right to the end, exactly as many of us wanted. Sam and Joe were practically begging Quinn to sit the kid line in the 3rd, but it didn’t happen. Some credit to Buffalo, they skated well, have been playing much better lately, and had good goaltending.

    The loss hurt, but the adjustment to the ice time was a big plus. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that someone from mgt spoke with Quinn, and a major concern of the fanbase was heard. Still not thrilled with who he uses on the powerplay, especially the 2nd unit, but there was progress last night, despite the loss, and I hope it continues.

    • Agree somewhat that the balance was better between top line and the rest, but Lafreniére, Gauthier, and Kravtsov had the least time amongst the forward corps. Quinn got Chytil involved more but that was it. Kravtsov had 3 shots on goal, and was rewarded with the least amount of time out of the forwards.

      • 2 of them were pretty weak — although if he had kept the shots low and on the ice they may have led to some rebound opportunities. I at least applaud his shooting mentality … the third shot though was a great effort, if there had been any luck involved it would have been a game winner and everyone would be proclaiming him the next great one. lol

        • On this team, too few players are taking shots when the opportunities are there. Good on Kravtsov to come in ready to rip it.

        • It does not matter how many shots he had. His game was sound. He was the most visible player with the the least minutes played. And that was first first NHL game. Just compare his first game against any other first game on this team. The only one that certainly was a better performance Ponarin’s first game against the Rangers with Hawks. But he was 23-24 at the time with 5 years KHL experience

          • Agreed. Kravtsov reminds me physically of Viktor Kozlov—with much better speed and agility. He’s got good size and wingspan. You can already see that this kid is a player.

          • I do not know who he reminds me of. He is surely unique. He can play wing and center. He has great all around skills, size, based on what I read from European blogs has great personality. He is certainly a great asset. Very excited to have him

          • Still needs to fill out some … thing is, you could tell he was bit nervous, you could tell he was going “whoa” there a few times with the strength, speed and intensity … but unlike a deer in the headlights he pushed through it and didn’t let it affect him. A really good showing IMO, bodes well for the future.

          • Thought who he would remind me of. I would put him below and I know it is a stretch but I m just talking his game not where he is now. His game reminds me of Svechnikov. I know many would disagree. Like any other our prospects he needs a good coach and the system to play in

          • Would you want to have the Rangers paying Stepan $6 million annually for a steep decline? They got one real good year of ADA before he melted down, lost with Lias Andersson, but got Will Cuyle with the 2nd rounder from LA for Lias. I think it rates as a weird push at worst, a slight win at best just for getting rid of Stepan’s contract.

          • I knew someone would bring Stepan salary. Yes he was overpaid and it was a motivation for that trade. But at least be honest and recall that Raanta. And then ask if that was worth it?

            As far as the assets they got and misused whose problem was that? Who drafted Lias and destroyed him (the guy who was drafted behind him had a pretty good game last night). I strongly dissagre about ADA meltdown but let’s put it in the money terms. Dead ADA and JJ money is less than Stepan. Both Stepan and Raata could have helped now more than second round draft that nobody knows if he ever makes it.

          • Money is a valid reason to trade someone these days. Performance has to equal salary or a team is screwed. Raanta is always hurt, even though he is good. And backup goalies are replaceable.

          • I cant see your point. We gave away two assets and got nothing for this deal. No matter what you money management skills are you have to admit that was a terrible trade. If they had drafted someone at seven who wound be serviceable and not destroyed another player then it could have been a different verdict

            I find it humorous when I hear some Rangers fans bring the salary. So we traded Mac because paying him $5.5 was too rich for us. We got Hajek and Howden and draft choices. We also gave away Miller who eventually got traded to Vancouver for number one. But lets not worry about the trade and stay with money. We could not afford Mac and then 2 years later gave Trouba $8 million? No idea what they saw in him talent wise. Never thought he was that good. But strictly money since it was money decision as with Stepan. How would anyone give them a pass on this?

            Stepan decision as much as I did not like him as much hurt them too. Very bad trade. Both of them are

          • Not at all a bad trade. I loved Stepan as a Ranger but consider this: he’s made $6.5 million a year for four years since leaving the Rangers, and his point totals have gone 56/35/28/6 counting this season. Abysmal production for the money, would’ve just been another necessary buyout.

            Even with the ADA flake out, they got a 15 goal/53 point dman for one year. And they got a future 4th line bruiser in Cuylle. The Lias thing sucked, but his game hasn’t resurfaced in LA either. That’s why I called it a weird push. They traded a rapidly declining player on a longterm contract and blew a draft pick, kind of a wash.

          • We surely looking at it differently. Do not want to repeat the same points. That was a terrible trade no matter how you look at it. Having second rounder for 2 players still in the league cannot be considered a win. The money factor was in not just for him but with other terrible deals made by Sather such as Staal and Girardi.

            Also, not sure if you take into consideration that Rangers never replaced Stepan and still have the void at the position. How many people complained here that there is no reliable faceoff man? Would you think having him around would have had positive impact for the kida winger development? His leadership skills?

            You said Raata was injured often. Honestly do not remember any instances when he was with the Rangers.

            I can buy the money saving issue if they had done anything with the savings but they signed Shattenkirk with it which we are still paying for. So not sure how anyone can make a winning verdict out of this trade

          • Getting rid of a guy who has a $6.5 million annual salary with production that crashed from first to third line levels is a win. I don’t see how in the world you can say keeping Stepan would’ve helped the team. Who the money was later spent on doesn’t matter, particularly as Shattenkirk was immediately signed and bought out during the duration of Stepan’s contract. Step’s money now goes to Panarin anyway.

            Stepan will make $6.5 million this year. He has six points. That is more than a million dollars per point. That is utterly abysmal value, and the Rangers won the trade simply by dumping that contract in my opinion.

          • You’re BOTH right. It was a good trade at the time — we got a #7 pick and a young right shot d’man with a lot of skill but a few red flags. We also moved the money which we clearly needed (it allowed us to eventually sign Panarin). We traded Stepan 1 year early instead of the usual 1 year too late.

            We blew the pick (that doesn’t reflect on the trade itself, it reflects on a separate decision — remember, they thought they were going to be able to draft Pettersson). As far as ADA was concerned, who could predict what actually happened here? Last summer he looked like a great asset, then a bomb went off and Management IMO overreacted — instead of punishing the behavior in some concrete way and trying to keep things in the locker room, they imploded the asset — their call … so now it looks like all we got was Cuylle and some money to sign Panarin. Underwhelming to say the least.

          • Hey tanto. Certainly disagree with you. What do they say in the media all the time these days – “you are entitled to your own opinion but not to the facts”

            1. Stepan was traded in June 2017. The trades was for savings but the draft choice was used for Lias to replace Stepan. Did not work quite well
            2. Money saving from Stepan were used to sign Shattenkirk who was signed in July 2017. Again did not work out because of his injuries (not sure what they saw in him to give him that deal even before the injuries). But his contract was exactly the same amount saved from Stepan
            3. After we cut Shattenkirk (we still paying for him next year) and dealing Mac, those savings were used for Ponarin(2019) and another great salary discount defensman Trouba(2019) at discount price $8 million

            Add to this that we are paying for ADA $9 mil (this year and next year combined). I am not the accountant but show me the savings from Stepan deal

            Perhaps you can explain how having second rounder in the minors makes this a winning trade?

          • This isn’t just an opinion RFF, this is a fact. You’re looking at the final result and not the assets received. The assets were fine and the money savings exist as he’s still playing on that contract. What WE DID with the assets received makes this a bad trade — unless Cuylle exceeds all expectations.

            Just play what if … the Rangers targeted Makar and Pettersson (the latter was suppose to go anywhere from high single digits to around #19) … Vancouver through a monkey wrench into that plan and Makar was drafted #4, so the Rangers’ went to plan C — clearly a bad plan … but I will take those assets (a #7 and ADA) for an aging Stepan any day of the week — and I was always a big supporter of Stepan from the beginning).

  • I think we have to look at trades now to improve team. Top six strategy is not working 5 more games if we are not 4-1 or better during them bring the kids. Strome is max value let’s use him to get Eichel. Strome, buchnevic, Hajak, 1st for Eichel. Maybe 1st and 2nd. It will hurt but also is good value

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