Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lundqvist The Fall Guy Again, But Plenty of Blame To Go Around In Rangers Loss

Each time the New York Rangers win all I hear about is the playoffs and what seed they are at and at different points I try to let myself believe in this team all the while in the back of my head knowing they have not beaten anyone and then there is a game like tonight.  Tonight is a step up from the competition of the last four games but nowhere near a true test when a team comes in having gone 1-5-1 in their last seven and 0-6 in weekend home games.  The one thing the Jackets possess that the Rangers have been unable to account for all season is speed and it would eventually burn them again tonight.  For two plus periods they played a decent if not good game but their inability to cash in on chances left them in a tie game when Henrik Lundqvist let it an awful goal without question and he was bad on the first one in my opinion as well.  I am not one of those who is going to jump full on Henrik just because that ended up being the game winner but he does let in way too many soft goals

For all of those who want to blame the loss on Henrik, what about the other 19 guys who played in this game and could only must 1 goal on a Steve Mason who is not exactly Vezina caliber this season?  How about the coaching decisions to continually throw Frolov out there on the power play shift after shift to kill chance after chance?  How about the utter lack of desperation this team possesses when they trail late in a game by one goal?  There are so many things that are wrong with this team that to blame it solely on Henrik is a cop out that happens way too often for fans.  This team lacks any sense of a killer instinct to put a wounded team down and instead all they seem to do is take years off the lives of the fans by letting the bad teams hang around and then the fans find a scapegoat for the whole team’s failure to get the result; tonight that is Hank.

Some disturbing stats to keep in mind: Rangers are now 4-13-1 when they are tied or trailing after 2; Rangers are now 6-8 when they outshoot their opponents and 11-3-1 in games they get outshot.

Details of the game:
Starting a tough six game stretch tonight in Columbus the Rangers were looking to kick it off with two points but for some reason all day I just had this feeling the game would go as it ended up.  Not a whole lot happened in the opening 20 minutes other than Rangers fans holding their breath for a few minutes when it looked like Dubinsky might be hurt, but he would return and all could breathe again.  Rangers had a power play which they did nothing on, the top line was invisible, Anisimov was must much better and Boyle line had another good period.  Rick Nash and Mason were the best players for the Blue Jackets.

In the second period the Rangers would get some good early chances from Dubinsky but Mason was up to the task.  The Rangers would get an early power play and did little with it other than Michael Del Zotto ripping a shot off the post, which was good to see him shoot on the first time with no hesitation.   After killing a penalty the Rangers would get another power play and the second unit would make it count at 9:53 of the period.  A great shift for Dubinsky and Fedotenko led to Fedotenko making a beautiful pass from behind the net to find a cutting Marc Staal for the goal.

The Rangers would continue playing a solid if unspectacular period and then a phantom penalty call when Murray dropped his stick and Erik Christensen was called for a slash.  On the ensuing power play after the Rangers seemed to have control of the kill eventually the puck would work from Nash to Umberger who would have his shot deflected off Antoine Vermette into the net at 15:43.  The deflection certainly makes it a tough save but Henrik Lundqvist was out of position on the play to begin with as he was not even square to the initial shot instead he was cheating for the far side pass.  Rangers outplayed the Blue Jackets through two but not getting the second goal let them go in tied at one.

In the third the Rangers would play solid for patches of the period and then get outworked for other parts until finally Rick Nash scored a bad goal on Henrik Lundqvist at 14:51 of the period.  The Rangers would have a power play immediately following the goal do nothing with it and then as Lundqvist started off the ice for the extra attacker Nash would break out and put on an incredible move to make it 3-1 and end the game at 18:48.
  • Gaborik had another one of his disappearing acts tonight
  • Anisimov played his best game in a while as he was active in the offensive zone
  • Frolov also had a good effort for him and was dangerous at times offensively but has no place on PP
  • Stepan needs to get off the dang point on the PP and work the left wing boards
  • Michael Del Zotto looked a lot more like last year’s player after his game off
  • Staal and Girardi all in all played a good game on Nash though he ends up with 3 points