Rangers Recap: Crosby dominates Rangers.
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers were due for a clunker and a lesson learned, and the Pittsburgh Penguins gave it to them last night. Even without Jake Guentzel, the Sidney Crosby line absolutely dominated the Rangers defensive pairing of K’Andre Miller and Jacob Trouba, surrendering a goal 16 seconds in and never looking back.

The story last night wasn’t the loss, but the coaching staff’s stubbornness to force Miller-Trouba as a shutdown pair. They’ve been inconsistent all season, and were an absolute tire fire last night, which has happened on multiple occasions.

It’s easy to play the blame game with Trouba, as Miller’s performance while he was out was fine, and then he regressed once Trouba was put back into the lineup. The calls to bench Trouba are unwarranted and, quite frankly, unrealistic. But the calls to look at different pairings and different roles are not.

Perhaps this is a good thing. The Rangers were due to be knocked down a peg or two, humbling them before the playoffs start. They also need to really take a step back and see if Miller-Trouba should be broken up and/or their role changed. Or just ensure the pair isn’t in a shutdown role when out there with the Panarin-Trocheck-Lafreniere line. That decision was baffling.

Despite the loss, there were positives. Another milestone achieved, as Artemi Panarin passed Mark Messier in single season points (108), good for third in franchise history. He won’t win the Hart, but he should be a finalist if the award is given out based on its true definition.

The Rangers also honored Jonathan Quick’s milestone win accomplishment with a pre-game ceremony for becoming the winningest US born goaltender in NHL history. If there is one thing the Rangers will knock out of the park each and every time, it is ceremonies honoring their players. It flies under the radar how well these are put together.

As an aside, the NHL needs to do something about Wes McCauley. Someone is going to get critically injured one of these days, and it will be because he didn’t take control of the game. He was at his worst yesterday, with questionable disallowed goals, missed boarding calls, and multiple missed stick penalties. He is the NHL version of Angel Hernandez in the MLB, and his officiating is going to change a playoff series. Or worse.

The loss was disappointing, but there’s always good to take from losses. The lesson here is, hopefully, the Rangers need a new approach to shutting down elite talent like Crosby. They will see a ton of it in the playoffs, and learning what doesn’t work removes variables from the equation. Sometimes, losses can be a good thing.


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