Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rangers Comeback Falls Toe Short Against Bruins In 3-2 Loss

Al Bello/Getty Images
The Rangers took the ice tonight looking to extend their winning streak to a season high four while at the same time evening their home record at 5-5-1.  The opponent, Boston Bruins, came in with an impressive 6-1 road record so the task would certainly not be an easy one for the Rangers.  The two teams would play a pretty even first twenty minutes with the Rangers getting the better of the chances, but Tim Thomas being up to the task.  In the second the Rangers would cash in on the back half of a double minor as when Brandon Dubinsky scored his team high 11th goal of the season on the power-play at 7:10 of the period.  

The Bruins would strike just under four minutes later when Milan Lucic would capitalize on a Rangers defensive zone blunder scoring at 11:06 to tie the game at 1-1.  Tyler Seguin would show off why he was the 2nd pick in the draft at 16:35 of the second to put the Bruins up 2-1 capitalizing on another defensive mistake, this time by Matt Gilroy at the offensive blue-line.  To start the third the Rangers would make some tactical changes, but the key moment was 1:10 in when Henrik Lundqvist gave up a soft goal to Mark Recchi creating what proved to be an insurmountable two goal deficit for New York.  The Rangers would battle back, get within one and have chances but in the end they would fall a toe shy of getting back to even, losing 3-2.  

It would be easy to blame Lundqvist for the loss seeing as how the soft goal he let in to start the third period, especially since it would ultimately prove to be the game winner but there were plenty of other reasons the Rangers lost this game.  The defensive breakdowns that lead to the first two goals, and the failure once again to capitalize on a long five-on-three advantage would be chief among those other reasons.  Also while he doesn’t always look pretty doing it because of his unorthodox style credit must be given to the battle with which Tim Thomas plays and helped him stop 34 shots tonight.  The Rangers will get back at it Friday in Colorado.

Details of play, my thoughts inside.
The Rangers would get a tremendous chance ninety seconds into the game as Erik Christensen had a wide open net to shoot at as Tim Thomas was diving to try and get back into position but instead of shooting the puck Christensen would attempt to pass the puck back to Marian Gaborik on the 2 on 1 and the Rangers instead of getting a prime chance at a goal end up without even getting a shot.  The Rangers would have pretty good puck possession early in the game and would get another chance from Ruslan Fedotenko only to have Tim Thomas come up with the save.  Just after the midway point of the period the Rangers would have another 2 on 1 this time it was Frolov with Gaborik and once again the player not named Gaborik would try and feed the puck to Gaborik instead of taking the shot.  Gaborik is a great player, but when you have an odd man rush and they are taking away the pass the other player must take what the defense is giving him and shoot the puck.  Late in the period the Rangers would take two penalties, but would kill both of them off, one of which did overlap into the second.

In the second period the play was pretty even early and then the Rangers for the first time in over 90 minutes of action would go on the power-play after Brandon Dubinsky was clipped by the stick of Nathan Horton and drew a little bit of blood.  On the four minute power-play the Rangers were awful for the first two minutes and not much better most of the third minute until Henrik Lundqvist would aggressively play the puck up the boards, Ryan Callahan would chip it ahead and Dubinsky would break in and beat Tim Thomas from the right hand faceoff dot.  It is a shot that Thomas probably should have had and he shows his frustration over that fact following the goal at 7:10 of the period.

Less than a minute after the goal the Rangers would hurt themselves by taking a too-many men on the ice penalty, but would be bailed out 44 seconds into the penalty by what I think was a weak boarding call on Chara’s hit of Callahan.  Neither team would score on their respective power-plays or 4 on 4. 

Later in the second off an offensive zone draw Marc Staal would step up to make a hit and when the puck went down in the Rangers zone Dan Girardi would attempt to play the puck up the boards but it went right to Nathan Horton who found Lucic wide open in front and he beat Lundqivst at 11:06.  On the play as I said Staal got caught up the ice, never really hustled back, Girardi made a bad pass up the boards, Anisimov was not on the boards and neither Dubinsky nor Callahan covered in the slot for the caught Staal.  A complete team breakdown that hung the goaltender out to dry.

The best chance for the Rangers the rest of the period was just after 14 minutes in when Derek Stepan had half the net to shoot at and instead hit Tim Thomas with the puck from the crease.  After missing the chance Stepan would look skyward probably wondering if he will ever score another NHL goal.  Don’t worry, he will.  Roughly 2 ½ minutes later the Rangers would have another defensive breakdown combined with tremendous skill burn them.  Matt Gilroy failed to keep the puck in on his backhand, Tyler Seguin knocked the puck out of the air and stormed down the right side ripped a wrister from the faceoff dot over Lundqvist on a perfect shot for the 2-1 Bruins lead at 16:35.

To start the third period Tortorella as he did versus the Penguins put Derek Stepan with Alex Frolov and Marian Gaborik because nothing was happening with Christensen tonight.  I said earlier that in the first it seemed Lundqvist was fighting the puck more tonight than previous games and the proof of that would come at 1:10 of the period when Lundqvist let in a soft goal by Marc Recchi as it squeezed between his chest and arm to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead.  The Rangers were very flat to start the period and seemed to have no jam in their game until 3:36 into the period when Brandon Dubinsky would show someone on the club was ready for the decisive period with a huge hit on Andrew Ference behind the Bruins net.  After that point there appeared to be more life in the Rangers game.

At 5:26 the Rangers would score and to tell you that Gaborik scored from Stepan would not do justice to the play made by the rookie on the goal.  Stepan won a battle in the neutral zone against Dennis Seidenberg took the puck into the zone and alertly found a streaking Gaborik in alone who then deked Thomas for the goal to liven the crowd and make it 3-2 Bruins.  Immediately after the goal the Rangers would have a couple chance to tie the game as Thomas barely kept a Callahan backhander out of the net with his shoulder and then he would stop Artem Anisimov.  Just after that a Dan Girardi shot from the point would be deflected in front by Marian Gaborik and it would ping pong off both legs of Thomas but stay between them. 

The Rangers would have more chances but the biggest chance was the five-on-three advantage they would have for 1:46 in which the best chance they had was when a Derek Stepan pass deflected off the Bruin defender and nearly caught Tim Thomas going the wrong way only to hit his skate and then Thomas would stone Callahan from the doorstep trying to shove in the puck.  The Rangers would not generate many other chances the rest of the night and once again failed to even threaten with the empty net. Final: Bruins 3-2.
  • Brandon Dubinsky is a man on a mission this season and deserves to go to Carolina for the All-Star game
  • Gaborik was invisible for two periods but played a great 3rd.  They need him to be more consistent.
  • Callahan had another solid game tonight
  • Stepan had an excellent final period playing with Gaborik.
  • Christensen was invisible tonight as was Frolov
  • No one on defense really stood out for having a great game tonight and all at times except maybe Sauer had blunders leading to chances.
  • Henrik fought the puck more, but I am sure he will be back to his best form this weekend.