Rangers Losing Streak Pushed To Three

It doesn’t matter which side of the viewership you’re on – whether you’re a fan who watches the game or one who insists advanced stats tell the whole story, everyone has said the Rangers were due to go on a losing streak. I’ve been expecting one for weeks. Well we finally got one as the Rangers have now lost three in a row in regulation, something they haven’t done since October 11-14, 2014.

I don’t think anyone wants to read a detailed recap of this game. So let’s talk about individual performances.

Before the game, Vigneault received the first star of the day from me when he made these comments in response to Claude Julien saying yesterday that Lundqvist was acting when he drew penalty on Marchand:

“It’s a little disappointing,” Vigneault said this morning of Julien’s comments. “I mean, obviously everyone saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets. Who would you rather have as a son? Henrik…or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong. Probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”

Game. Set. Match.

And he’s right. Did Lundqvist help the call yesterday? Yes. I said that in my recap. Was he hit? Yes, so Julien and his troops need to shut their mouths.

While we’re on yesterday’s game, it was revealed today that Derek Stepan broke two ribs and will be examined later today. We should have a better idea on a timeline after that. After watching their performance, they better hope he’s back sooner rather than later. (Can Stepan fix this on his own? Not at all. Was he one of the few competent players the past few weeks? Absolutely. And that list is extremely short.)

Now I guess I should talk about players in regards to today’s game.

The best player on the ice without question was Antti Raanta, who suffered the first home loss of his career. (He was previously 17-0-3 at home.) Was he due to lose at home? Yes. Am I surprised this was the game he lost? No. Did he deserve a better outcome today? Let’s just say he showed up. Unfortunately the rest of his teammates didn’t. I’d say welcome to New York but pretty sure he had the same issues in Chicago.

As for another positive, well Dylan McIlrath got another chance to play and once again let his presence be known. This time he threw the hit and was immediately challenged. Shockingly, the referees gave out an instigator to the Flyers on the play.

The hit looked like a good, clean hit to me but we’ll see if the league has anything to say since Schultz never returned.

As for everyone else…look, I can’t make this all positive after that performance. And they had no excuse as the Flyers were on the same back to back and three in four nights. There is no excuse.

Kevin Klein had an atrocious game. Has he been one of the better defenseman this year? Yes. But that doesn’t mean he gets a pass when he has an off night. And he was very off today. Was he given more responsibility and not able to handle it? I’m not sure. He was out against the Flyers second line and they did all the damage today. Or maybe he is just having an off week. Something to keep an eye on.

Something I’ve been keeping an eye on is the play of Jarret Stoll and he does two things I’m not fond of. First, he likes to go for the hit instead of the puck. Sometimes you need to do that. You do that all the time and it will burn you. The other thing is he likes to take dumb penalties while killing a penalty. Of his 9 penalties, four of them have come while killing a penalty. And the reason I’ve noticed? It was four of the last five penalties he took and they all came in the last two and a half weeks. Pretty easy to notice a pattern when it happens one after the other. That said, it’s something that needs to stop.

As for other players, it’s not worth naming everyone else because there’s nothing good to say. Just take everything the Rangers have been doing all month, subtract the goals and you have what happened today. It was bound to happen. Question is how long does it last. I was thankful for those nine straight wins. They better not get anywhere close to that on the other side.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

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Rangers Give Two Points Away In Boston

The Rangers have been saying for the past week that they need to play better, that their play has been unacceptable and they know they have to fix it. After a couple of games of that not happening, I was wondering if the game against Montreal two days ago would be the wake up call they finally needed. Did they look as bad as they have this past week today? No. But they still didn’t get two points.

There was no surprise after Wednesday’s disaster that Vigneault would make some changes. The first was one I have been predicting for a week as Emerson Etem finally drew in for Viktor Stalberg. Nothing against Stalberg but he hasn’t been good for a while so I’m honestly surprised it took this long. Etem didn’t look bad (besides accidentally deflecting in the fourth goal) but probably would’ve come out if not for an injury to another forward. And with this being a back-to-back, Dan Boyle got the night off with Dylan McIlrath getting another chance to play. He definitely served his purpose today but that situation is a mess, if you ask me. I understand you can’t take Boyle out on a regular basis but they are hurting McIlrath by playing him like this.

In regards to the lines, they stayed the same even though Vigneault admitted Kevin Hayes didn’t look great on the second line which is another problem – the Rangers have two third line centers who don’t look good unless they are being third line center. Depth is great but you need it to work when there aren’t injuries, not just keep it around in case there are. I guess now the team is glad they still have it.

As for the game, the Rangers started well. They really did…they had three shots on goal in the first minute. Unfortunately everything went downhill from there. The highlight of the period for the visitors was Dylan McIlrath showing why he is known as a heavy hitter as he completely leveled Landon Ferraro. Otherwise, after a power kill and bad goal against, the first period was another forgettable period for the Rangers.

I’m not sure what was said or how much paint was peeled off the walls during the intermission, but a different team came out for the visitors to start the second. They again controlled play over the first minute but this time they continued to control it. Just a little over two minutes into the period, Oscar Lindberg made a great move to get to the front of the net and tie the game at one. (I took it as him making amends for the giveaway he had in the first period that led to a Bruins breakaway.)

Just three minutes later, Ryan McDonagh made a great move at the blue line to keep the puck in and found Rick Nash who buried another one before being buried into Rask by Seidenberg. Fortunately the puck was already in when that happened so the goal counted.

Three minutes later, Beleskey buried Derek Stepan into the boards after he passed the puck up the ice. Was it late? Questionable. Was it called? Of course not. Unfortunately for Beleskey, Dylan McIlrath was on the ice when it happened. McIlrath didn’t care the referees didn’t think it was a penalty, he let his presence be known by basically destroying Beleskey. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the referees did consider McIlrath as the instigator (which he was) so the Bruins ended up with the power play. As Stepan said the last time this happened, this is what is wrong with the league. I had no problem with what McIlrath did but this time the Rangers weren’t lucky enough to kill it and we had a tied game. And they lost Stepan who didn’t come back for the third period and after the game was announced as having a couple of broken ribs so he’s gone for a bit.

The Rangers would get another power kill late in the period but the score would remain tied through forty, even though the Rangers tried to give the Bruins the lead in the closing seconds. Just once this team will surprise me and play until the buzzer. The good news was the game was tied after two so the “stat” didn’t come into play. (The “1” loss came in Boston the day after Thanksgiving.)

Eight minutes into the third, Marchand would run into Henrik Lundqvist and be called for goalie interference. Did Lundqvist milk the call a little bit? Probably. Was he hit? Yes so it was the right call. Shockingly, the Rangers made the Bruins pay as J.T. Miller deflected a Keith Yandle shot past Rask to give the visitors the lead.

Five and a half minutes later, Jesper Fast would take the second dumb penalty for the Rangers in the period. (Derick Brassard took his usual one earlier in the period but the Rangers somehow killed that.) Unfortunately there are only so many dumb penalties you can kill, especially against the best power play in the league, and the Bruins tied the game.

After the goal, the Rangers did their usual trick of scrambling around and praying for the best. It didn’t work and the Bruins re-took the lead almost exactly two minutes later. At that point there was less than two minutes to go in the game so you can guess how this one ended. As I said, at least they didn’t have the lead going into the third and blow it.

We’ve all said this was coming. I do think the Rangers looked okay today. Was it their best game? Not even close. Was it their worst? No, it wasn’t close to that either. But there are a lot of things that need to be fixed and with the condensed schedule, I’m not sure when they are going to fix it. Good news is they get to bounce right back tomorrow afternoon against a team they usually do well against. Let’s hope that’s the medicine they need right now.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Thank Lundqvist For Yet Another Win

Remember on Saturday night when the Rangers basically said they were lucky to win and needed to play better in their next game? Well, I think they played worse tonight. And yet still won. This team defies any ounce of logic anyone can come up with.

Yes, I know the answer is simple – the Rangers have this guy named Henrik Lundqvist. But you would think at some point he could only do so much. Apparently we haven’t gotten to that point.

To my surprise, Vigneault decided to change the lines but not the roster heading into tonight’s game against the Predators. I wasn’t surprised by the line changes. I was surprised Emerson Etem wasn’t included in them. (I fully admit I forgot Viktor Stalberg played for the Predators so Vigneault wouldn’t have taken him out. But in that case, I expected one of his linemates last game to sit instead.) Did the new lines work? Hard to tell with how the Rangers played the bulk of this game.

Okay, I”m not going to sit here and be negative the entire recap. The Rangers did have a shutout after all. So what happened?

Well the first period…happened. During a TV timeout with nine minutes to go in the period, I had every intention of writing just that sentence and moving onto the middle frame. But the Rangers decided to take a parade to the penalty box over the final nine minutes so I have to write a little more.

First it was Dan Girardi and the Rangers killed that. Then less than 30 seconds after that one ended, it was Keith Yandle…and the Rangers killed that. Then with three and a half minutes remaining in the period, Derek Stepan decided to high stick his friend Craig Smith and draw blood leading to a double minor. And somehow the Rangers killed that to allow the game to remain scoreless after 20 minutes. The visitors were outshooting the home team 14-3 (and the third shot was literally at the buzzer from the other side of the ice) but somehow the game was scoreless.

I (wrongly) assumed the Rangers would wake up for the second period. They only took one penalty so they did cut down on that. They also scored a goal. And who scored might you ask? Some guy named Rick Nash. Again. They say he’s a streaky scorer. I think we finally got to the good part. Watch this goal:

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2015020309-326-ingame-h

Two weeks ago, he either would’ve passed that puck or missed the net by 10 feet. Confidence really does go a long way in this league.

The Rangers got one more shot in the second period than they did in the first giving them seven total through 40 minutes. Seven. They were outshot 25-7 and were winning 1-0.

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No, this is when you say: “Thank you Henrik Lundqvist“.

Then came the third period.

Was it the best period the Rangers have played all season? Not at all. Was it the best period they played over the last six periods? Probably. Again, that’s not saying much but is a good sign.

They drew a penalty at the very beginning of the period which they had some chances on. A few minutes later, Marc Staal made a perfect pass to Derek Stepan who was standing right in front of Rinne and slipped the puck through his legs to double the home teams’ lead. Did the Rangers deserve to be winning 2-0? No, but at least they kept playing after that.

A few minutes later they drew another penalty and this time capitalized on it as Kevin Hayes rifled one into the net to make it 3-0. As I said in my last recap, usually the better team wins. Are the Predators a bad team? Not at all. They are going through a bad stretch, something the Rangers will do eventually. But comparing the two teams, I would still take the Rangers. Maybe I’m biased but I believe they are slightly stronger team when firing on all cylinders.

Things got a little chippy as the period wore on but in the end, the Rangers did enough to keep the puck out of their net and bank another two points. At this point in the season, that’s all that matters.

But now I’m going to be a little negative. The Rangers got away with this play the last two games because it was the Panthers and a severely slumping Predators team. They play like this on Wednesday and they will get killed by Montreal. They should realize that. But I also thought they would realize it after the Panthers game two days ago…

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Nash Hat Trick Leads Rangers Past Panthers

Ryan McDonagh was asked after the game what had just happened. His response? “We won.” That’s really all that matters.

To say last night’s game against the Panthers wasn’t pretty would be an insult to almost every other game we’ve said that about. But the one thing you can usually count on in the NHL is the better team winning. I know the Panthers are getting better but I still believe the better team won.

As you may have noticed, there was no recap of the Rangers first game of this trip. I missed it so I’m just going to pretend it didn’t happen. Pretty sure most fans would be okay with that being the case.

Onto last night. Let’s start with the positives.

RICK NASH SCORED A GOAL! AND WE CAN SAY THAT THREE TIMES!

Okay that probably shouldn’t all be in caps but its a pretty big deal. Rick Nash scoring in general the season is always something to celebrate but last night he might have finally broken out. Not just because he scored three but how he scored them – going top shelf from in close, making a power move to the net with a defender draped all over him and a snipe on the power play in overtime. If that doesn’t get him going, nothing will.

But as pretty as those goals were, especially the second, this was the prettiest goal of the night:

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2015020296-624-h

Are you kidding me with that pass Derek Stepan? Are you serious with that move Mats Zuccarello? I still have no words for how beautiful that entire play was.

Now onto the bad. Unfortunately there was a lot more of that.

I’m beginning to think Chris Kreider might never score again. Not because he missed on a penalty shot in the first period for the second straight game, but after getting another breakaway in the third period…he drop passed. It honestly looked like he was afraid to shoot. If that was the case, that’s worse than him missing the net by ten feet.

Continuing with that line, after taking an extremely stupid slashing penalty right in front of the Rangers bench, J.T. Miller was moved off the second line for the majority of the game. Unfortunately that put him on a line with Viktor Stalberg and Oscar Lindberg, who were struggling as well. The three did combine for the fourth goal of the game but otherwise had a mostly forgettable night. My guess is one of them will be in the press box on Monday night with Emerson Etem drawing back in.

Speaking of penalties, the Rangers took way too many of them. And in doing so, they allowed two power play goals on seven opportunities. They probably should be happy it wasn’t worse as the Panthers currently have one of the best power plays in the league.

The Rangers also allowed two goals in 39 seconds late in the third period to blow a 4-2 lead. Oh and the Panthers had 43 shots in the game, all of them coming in regulation.

But a win is a win. And with this win, this seasons’ Rangers broke yet another franchise record as for the first time in their history, they won 15 of their first 20 games. That’s absurd. Not just because it is the first time they’ve done it in 89 years but because we all know they haven’t been playing well from the start of the season. I just keep hoping this lasts another seven months.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Zuccarello Leads Rangers To Ninth Win

Al Trautwig started the post game with the following quote:

“It’s Mats Zuccarello’s world and we’re just living in it.”

I don’t think anyone can argue that fact right now.

In regards to the Rangers lineup, most wondered if Emerson Etem would get another chance after the fourth line had a rough game yesterday. Vigneault decided to give them another chance. I really wish I knew his reasoning behind these decisions – is it something Etem is/isn’t doing or does it more have to do with the other options? Not going to speculate, just curious. On defense, after scoring the winner in the shootout yesterday, Dan Boyle got the night off with Dylan McIlrath coming back in. Vigneault has said that Boyle won’t play when the Rangers have a condensed schedule so this move really isn’t a surprise. But as with Etem, I really am curious his opinion on McIlrath.

Onto the game.

The last time these two teams played, both had been off for almost a week and it showed. Tonight? Both were on second half of back-to-back and had to travel yesterday. Got to love NHL scheduling.

Anyway, it showed tonight as well as both teams looked slow through the first twenty minutes. The Rangers were their typical selves, rather than testing a back up who hasn’t won yet this season nor has played since Halloween, they chose to pass as much as possible leading to numerous turnovers. They also had a power kill that was so good, Vigneault placed the fourth line on the ice for the final 20 seconds. Not surprisingly, they had the best opportunity.

As the clock wound down, I started to hope the Rangers could get out of the period with no score. As the Leafs got more chances, it was more of a question of when the goal would happen and not if. It came with a little over two minutes to go as Viktor Stalberg lost the puck behind the Rangers net and the Leafs made him pay for it. Rick Nash almost tied it thirty seconds later but hit a goal post and the teams went to the locker room with the visitors holding a 1-0 lead.

I’m obviously not privy to what happens during intermission but I have a feeling someone stood up or came into the Rangers locker room and said that their play in the first period wasn’t going to cut it. Because a completely different team came out to start the second.

It started just 44 seconds into the period when Dan Girardi forced a turnover in the Rangers zone and got the puck to Mats Zuccarello. The Norwegian came streaking down the ice and found a wide open Ryan McDonagh to tie the game. But the Rangers didn’t stop after that, continuing to make Bernier work and finally looking like the better team on the ice.

Then with a little over six minutes remaining in the period, this happened:

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2015020259-510-h

I seriously have no words other than to say I guess we know why Bernier has the current record he does. During the intermission, Derek Stepan was asked if he was trying to do that and he said he was hoping for a “Knicks bounce” when he shot that puck. (The Knicks played earlier in the day so he knew the ice wasn’t great.) I still can’t believe Bernier missed that.

After that, the Rangers got sloppy. The Leafs did apply a little bit of pressure but the mistakes once again looked to be more from what the Rangers were doing rather than their opponent. With two and a half minutes to go in the period, the Leafs finally capitalized to tie the game. You would think that would wake the Rangers up but it didn’t and they were lucky to get out of the period still tied.

The third period of a back to back is never pretty. When both teams are in the same position, it’s safe to assume you won’t be seeing good hockey. And we didn’t. But we did see goals.

First, it was the Rangers just three and a half minutes in when like yesterday, Mats Zuccarello again found Derick Brassard standing in front to give the Rangers the lead. Unfortunately that lead only lasted 98 seconds as a dumb icing lead to a goal off the face-off for the Leafs to tie the game. (What is a dumb icing, you ask? When a player tries a home run pass to no one leading to the puck going completely down the ice. It’s something the Rangers are notorious of doing.)

Two minutes later, the referees remembered they had whistles for something other than offsides and icings so they sent Chris Kreider off for cross checking. Was it a penalty? Probably. Did they let a bunch of stuff go that was much worse through the previously forty minutes? Absolutely. That’s what annoys me about those calls. If something isn’t a penalty in the second period, how does it become one in the third? Fortunately, the Rangers managed to kill that as well the penalty the Leafs took with 13 seconds remaining in Kreider’s penalty to keep the game tied.

As time wound down, my thought was at least the Rangers would be shooting on the side of the ice that the puck was bouncing on in overtime. Then with four and a half minutes to go, Derick Brassard took his nightly dumb penalty and I thought, there went overtime. But the Rangers killed that and the clock continued to wind down to the end of regulation.

But Mats Zuccarello was tired and didn’t want to play overtime so when Ryan McDonagh put a soft shot on net with less than a minute to go, Zuccarello jumped on the rebound and buried it to give the Rangers the lead. That goal gave Zuccarello six points in six periods against the Leafs this season (four goals, two assists). I guess someone likes playing against Toronto.

At that point, all the Rangers had to do was kill 54 seconds. It wasn’t pretty but they killed it for their ninth win in a row. I don’t even know what to say anymore. I’m just going to enjoy the ride. (And pretend that they won’t be going for win number ten in Tampa later this week…)

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Bend, Don’t Break In Eighth Straight Win

They say that playoff series breed contempt. I was finally starting to get over my hatred of the Senators from the first round of 2012 playoffs. I guess they didn’t want that as they reverted back to that team today.

Every year, the Rangers have one “kid” who appears to be on a very short leash. One mistake and they are usually out of the lineup. This year that role appears to belong to Emerson Etem, which is why it was no surprise when he was taken out of the lineup so that Dominic Moore could go back in. I still believe that Etem will have that role more in the long run but we’ll see what happens. Today, Moore got another chance. His only saving grace for tomorrow might be the fact his linemates weren’t much better than him.

Things started well for the Rangers. Just 1:53 into the game, they drew a penalty. Forty seconds later, Chris Kreider tipped in a Kevin Hayes shot to give the visitors the lead.

I’m not sure if the Rangers thought it would be easy after that or remembered it was an afternoon game (something they never play well in) but the remainder of the first period wasn’t pretty. For some reason, the Rangers couldn’t complete a pass and just generally looked sloppy. (To be fair, I’m not sure the Senators looked much better.) Luckily, it only burned them once.

Three minutes after the Rangers goal, Jesper Fast had a bad shift which started with a turnover at the blue line and ended with him taking a penalty in front of the net. Halfway through that kill, the Rangers broke out and decided it was a good idea to send three men deep. So when a pass from Derek Stepan went behind Ryan McDonagh, who then blew a tire trying to get it, it was basically a foregone conclusion the game would be tied. There’s only so much Henrik Lundqvist and Dan Girardi could do on a 4-on-1. I fully understand the Rangers game plan is to push offense on the penalty kill. But when you are playing against a team who can skate, why are you sending three guys deep? Maybe it’s me, but that doesn’t sound like a good game plan. I guess the Rangers agreed since they didn’t do it again the rest of the game.

The remainder of the period was a mess as both teams trade chances and missed wide open opportunities. Basically it looked like the first period of an afternoon game.

I had every intention of saying the second period happened and not writing anything else. Then with four minutes to go, the Senators became the Senators I remember from the 2012 playoffs. Zack Smith decided to bring his elbow into the jaw of Derek Stepan near the Rangers bench. The referees missed that (which happened every time they threw one of those hits during that playoff series). Chris Kreider did not miss the hit and immediately challenged Smith. The result? Kreider with 17 minutes in penalties (fighting + instigator) and Stepan to the locker room for concussion protocol. Oh and the Senators lost Smith for seven minutes since they called a 2-minute interference penalty on the hit. Fourth line player vs. two second line players? I’d say the Sens won that one. At least Stepan passed so was back for the third period.

The third period was what I expected to be writing about the second period – it happened. No penalties, no goals and to overtime we went.

Overtime was…I still hate 3-on-3. Today both teams had chances but after the first two runs back and forth, neither team really had anything left. Guys were gassed, barely skating and appeared to be almost praying a puck would enter the net so it could end. But yes, this is what’s best for the league. Erik Karlsson has previously said he’s not a fan of the format. (Can I add that I love the fact one of the faces of the league is asking for games to end in ties?) Tonight, Henrik Lundqvist joined that sentiment saying “it’s weird hockey”. Lundqvist will never directly say something against the league but his comments about today’s overtime implied he isn’t pleased with current setup.

To me, it’s not hockey. Okay, it’s more hockey than the shootout is but it’s just as much of a gimmick in my opinion. And to anyone who says it’s exciting, I have a different word with an “e” to use – excruciating. It is not easy to watch extremely competent players look like they belong in the minor leagues.

Anyway, overtime didn’t solve anything and we headed to a shootout. Bobby Ryan scored on the first shot and Rick Nash missed the second. I figured it didn’t look good at that point. Instead, Mats Zuccarello and Dan Boyle (yes, Dan Boyle) scored on the Rangers next two chances and Lundqvist stopped the two Senators shots giving the Rangers their eighth straight victory. If last years’ team was the “find a way Rangers” then this years’ team “just wins”. They don’t care what you throw at them, they will still have two points at the end of the night. I’m still waiting for the crash. Hopefully it doesn’t come until next September.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Make It Seven With Win Over Blues

Tonight was supposed to be a battle of the two hottest goaltenders and two of the best teams in the league. Which meant almost everyone was expecting a ridiculously bad game that ended 6-5. We were close.

I really don’t know what words to use to describe the game between the Rangers and Blues tonight. Was it a horribly played game? Not really. Was it well played game? Not even close. Both goalies were off and the defense didn’t really show up until the third period. But the goals were pretty.

The game started well for the home team when their first shot on goal ended up in the back of the net. Granted it came almost five minutes into the period but Rick Nash got the puck to Mats Zuccarello who from behind the net made a perfect pass to Derick Brassard for the tap home. That line is on absolute fire right now.

They weren’t done as two and a half minutes later, they did this:

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/embed?playlist=2015020231-71-ingame-h

You can’t really tell on the video but he wristed a backhand into the net. I honestly want to know when Zuccarello learned to do that? And if he’s always known how to do it, then why the heck does he not shoot more often? That might end up being the goal of the year for the Rangers.

By the way, at that point the Rangers had two shots on goal. Two shots, two goals. So much for that great goaltending we were expecting. And it didn’t get much better for Allen as seven minutes later, Kevin Hayes broke in and made it 3-0 on the Rangers fifth shot of the night. Needless to say, that was the end of Allen’s night.

Unfortunately the Rangers never make things easy so they gave one back two minutes later. I would love to blame any of the players in blue on the ice but truth of the matter is the goal was on Henrik Lundqvist. He made the initial save but never had control of the puck. He dropped it and the Blues swooped in and buried it behind him.

The Rangers were lucky to still be up by two when the buzzer sounded as that goal definitely woke the Blues up. Five and a half minutes into the second, it was Tarasenko again getting another highlight reel goal at MSG. And again, I hate to do it, but it was all on Lundqvist.

The puck came into the Rangers zone where Dan Girardi  and Ryan McDonagh came back to get it. Lundqvist, for some unknown reason, decided he was going to play it and outletted it himself to try to catch the Blues on a change. Only one problem – Viktor Stalberg was not prepared for the pass which bounced over his stick and right on the stick of Tarasenko. That caused the Rangers to scramble and sure enough, the Blues forward put a ridiculous shot on net that Lundqvist had no chance of saving. Not going to lie, but I got a little worried at that point as it’s not often the Rangers give up two goals and I can fault Lundqvist on both of them. (That’s not to say he was horrible all night. He actually made some incredible saves to start the game. But he looked shaky from the moment he let the first one past him.)

Five minutes later, the Rangers finally got the puck back and were able to restore their two goal lead as J.T. Miller shot one that deflected past Elliott for his third of the year. But it isn’t a game unless Derick Brassard takes a stupid penalty so two minutes later he got that out of the way as the referees found their whistles for the first time all night. The Rangers almost killed it but with ten seconds remaining, the Blues again made it a one goal game.

With a minute to go in the period, Rick Nash would follow his centers’ lead and put the Rangers back on the penalty kill with another stupid penalty on the evening. (I’m honestly not sure which was worse. I’m leaning towards Nash.) Somehow the Rangers were able to kill both halves of that one to keep their lead going into the third period. We all know what that means.

Shortly after Nash’s penalty ended, the Blues took their first penalty of the night. It took less than a minute for the puck to come to Ryan McDonagh at the blue line and him to rifle one into the net and put momentum back with the home team. Brian Elliott was not pleased about that one. (Apparently his mask had come loose but he couldn’t get it off to stop the play. Rangers got lucky on that one as the referees still allowed the goal to stand.)

After that, the defense for both teams finally showed up to the game and we saw the game we expected to see. Each team had chances but the goalies were up to the task. The Blues pulled Elliott with two and a half minutes remaining. As anyone who watches this team regularly would expect, the Rangers entertained the crowd with their inability to put the puck in the empty net over the next minute. But with 94 seconds remaining, J.T. Miller got the puck to Dan Girardi who rifled it into the empty net to give the Rangers some breathing room.

The Rangers were able to kill off the remainder of the period and take the 6-3 victory. It helped that with 10 seconds remaining, the Blues allowed frustration to seep in. I didn’t see the full play but somehow Rick Nash lost his glove. Shattenkirk decided to slash him on the uncovered hand. Nash didn’t take too kindly to that and a scrum ensued. Honestly, I was surprised to see it was Shattenkirk as I don’t expect stuff like that from him. Guess he wasn’t happy with the outcome of the game.

If that was the case, I don’t blame him. I’m not sure the Rangers were happy with the game either. They’ll take the two points, no question, but they still haven’t come close to playing that complete game they know they need to play. After the game, Vigneault said:

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I can’t disagree with him. The Rangers were honestly lucky to get a lead early in the game. But at some point, they won’t run into a goalie having an off night. That said, this league is about getting points and the Rangers are doing just that. They have now won seven in a row and are 12-2-2 in their first 16 games. The only team above them? Montreal, who after winning their first nine games, sit at 13-2-2 in 17 games. I don’t care how they’ve played, definitely can’t complain about that.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)