Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rangers Play Like Turkey's in 5-3 Embarassment vs Lightning

The only question watching tonight’s debacle in Tampa for the Rangers would be whether they were suffering from tryptophan issues from eating early turkey or just looking forward to tomorrow because they played like turkeys for the first two periods tonight.  I guess I will blame it on tryptophan since they did wake up and decide to play in the third period but after two they were already down 5-0 so the three they would manage in the third were all essentially meaningless to the outcome. 

I am sure that the team will look to build off of the third in preparing for Florida, but I cannot let go of the embarrassment that the first two periods were quite so easily.  The team hung it’s star out to dry again as Lundqvist will be charged with five in the boxscore, but I think played well in the game and they let him be continually run again with no one smacking a guy in the crease only one time where Dubinsky boarded a guy on the other end of the ice.  The team had no belief or desire tonight until the game was long decided and this is yet another speed and skill team that has dominated them as Philly and Colorado did earlier this year.  The Rangers need to play a physical grinding game to be successful and against these teams that are quicker they never get that game going it seems.  This team is not talented to play run and shoot with any of these teams especially when Gaborik is missing in action, so either they learn how to play against these teams and make in game adjustments or this is going to happen repeatedly.

Details of the game inside

This afternoon in the pregame I said the key matchup would be the Rangers penalty kill which had come in so hot in their last 10 games against the potent power-play of the Lightning.  Well the Lightning dominated the matchup starting in the first period with Ryan Callahan in the box and TB had numerous good chances including hitting the crossbar before off a scramble in front Ryan Malone pushes Henrik Lundqvist and then the puck in the net to make it 1-0.  This should have been goalie interference, but as bad as that was the Rangers had six guys, counting Henrik, that were within five feet of the net and no one took the body or cleared the puck.  At 15:37 of the period on another power play the Lightning worked the puck around leading to a Stamkos shot that lead to a rebound and a wide open Malone with no one near him puts it in for 2-0 Lightning lead.  The first would end that way and frankly the Rangers were lucky it was only 2-0 as they were dominated in the period.

As bad as the first period was, the second was worse as after a decent shift from Dubinsky-Anisimov-Gaborik in the cycle all three get caught deep, Staal gets beat at the blue-line by St. Louis and it leads to a three-on-one in which St. Louis found Downie who found a wide open Stamkos driving the slot for a 3-0 lead.  It was an awful play all around as none of the guys really hustled back to get back in the play.  There was still absolutely no interest being shown out there by anyone except Lundqvist who had his frustration clearly at many points tonight.  The joke that was the diving call on Lundqvist was beyond ridiculous as he was continuously run by Tampa and did not dive on the play, which followed Dubinsky finally running someone who had run Lundqvist earlier in the shift.

Later in the period it would continue as again down a man the Rangers would watch the Lightning power play pick them apart as eventually an easy pass from St. Louis to Downie in the slot would lead to a Clark tip in and make it 4-0 and there was yet to be a goal that Lundqvist really had a chance on.  The scoring would mercifully end in the second when with 3:04 to go Victor Hedman would shoot from the point through a screen and beat Henrik to make it 5-0.  At the end of 2 the shots were 25-7 to show how thoroughly dominated the Rangers were.

In the third the Rangers would get back to playing their game though obviously Tampa took it’s foot off the gas as well so some of the results might be deceiving.  Steve Eminger would get his first of the year from Derek Stepan; then Brian Boyle would score short-handed adding to his career high with his 10th; and finally it would be Stepan scoring on a five-on-three to make the score look respectable, but not indicative of the domination that was the game. 
  • Gaborik has been invisible for a week. Our best player must show up.
  • Derek Stepan played an excellent third period and is getting his game firing on all cylinders regardless of Gaborik struggling.
  • Best line once again was again Fedotenko-Boyle-Prust which is great for them but awful for the team when they are supposed to be a checking line. Top two lines must show up.
  • Said my piece on the Avery thing separately
  • Staal and Girardi were awful tonight
  • Stamkos gets the points and headlines but St. Louis runs that power play magically