Burn the tape. That’s it, just burn the tape. After taking a 2-0 lead midway through the second period, the wheels fell off, and the Rangers surrendered six unanswered goals in their loss to Dallas. The wins were not going to come forever, but it doesn’t make the sting of humiliation any easier.
It all piled on last night, as Artemi Panarin’s consecutive point scoring streak came to an end as well. He had many chances to extend it, including some great passing plays on the power play, but neither he nor his teammates could get the puck in the net to get him a point.
Being that this is only the 4th total loss this year and the 3rd in the regulation, there’s no reason to go scorched earth on the team, but I do want to focus on a few negatives from this game that need to get addressed.
Adam Fox cannot return soon enough
First, the Zac Jones/Braden Schneider pairing got absolutely caved in at even strength. Plus/minus in a vacuum is not a good stat, however, Jones was a -3 looked bad on all 3 goals against. He is a player archetype where you hope his offensive game will outweigh his defensive lapses, but the offense is still coming together.
Some nights, he looks fantastic in the offensive zone, and others he handles the puck a little too much and can’t get back well enough on defense. Thankfully Adam Fox will be back soon. The defense has held its own since his injury, but the Rangers could use the best defenseman in the league back in the lineup. Schneider himself will look a lot better I think when it’s Erik Gustafsson playing with him again too.
Second, it’s tough to call out the goalie who you think is at the top of the list of goalies in the entire league, but Igor Shesterkin looked rusty again. It’s not something major, as he is playing just his second game after being out for 16 days with an injury.
However the 3rd and 4th goals against though were so soft for his standards. On both goals, he just couldn’t get his glove down fast enough to cover the puck before the Stars could poke both pucks home. Both of these occurred halfway through the third and deflated the Rangers.
Elite goalies are going to have stinkers from time to time, so this isn’t that big of an issue. Hopefully the Shesterkin shakes off the rust with a tough schedule coming up this week.
Vincent Trocheck has been excellent
But how about that Vincent Trocheck? His contract was, and perhaps still is, viewed as a potential blocker for Filip Chytil as the 2C. The term, the money, it all just seemed like a classic veteran block move, preventing a young player from potentially finding his ceiling.
Enter Peter Laviolette. The Rangers looked deep at center when fully healthy. Now with Chytil on IR and no return in sight, Trocheck has been invaluable to the team, stabilizing what has been the Rangers best line at 5v5. We do not know when we will see Chytil play hockey again, but I have to eat crow on this and say that Trocheck has been delightful to watch with a proper coach.
Trocheck was solid, if under appreciated, last season, and has returned to form a bit by being a pain to play against this year. He’s also still a legitimate shooting threat and one of the best on the team in the faceoff circle. It’s a far cry from having Barclay Goodrow back as a top-nine center.
With that, burn the tape on this one and go get a win in Pittsburgh.