Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rangers Finally Pay For Playing Down To Level Of Opponent

Earlier this week I asked at what point would the Rangers penchant to have lapses in focus against both good and bad teams would come back to bite them against the bad ones too.  Today was that day.  There might be no better or worse depending on your perspective organization in the NHL at playing down to the level of their opponent than the New York Rangers.  Today they were facing an Ottawa Senators team that was 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, coming off a SO loss in a game that started only 22 hours before this one and had not scored a goal in 178:30 of game time.  Of course they were destined to lose.
The first period saw the Rangers get absolutely dominated in every facet of the game whether it be puck possession, zone time, scoring chances or just flat out desire to be out there.  The team spent the whole period rolling around like it was a pregame skate and they were waiting for a 7pm start tonight instead of the actual one at 5.  The effort was so bad early that John Tortorella called his time out at 4:09 of the period in an attempt to wake the team up.  The first shot for the Rangers was not registered until 5:02 in the period by Derek Stepan.  The best chances of the period were those for Stepan as at 15:10 he had a three-on-one where he got the pass back from a streaking Marc Staal and shot the puck high over the net.  With about two minutes left in the period again it was Stepan, with Avery and Callahan that would create some pressure, but no finishes.
In the second the Rangers were still asleep to start, but they would get an early powerplay to try and wake them up.  Again they would go with Stepan on the point with Staal, Christensen, Gaborik and Callahan up front.  During the course of the man advantage Gaborik would be clearly taken down but after the no call Chris Kelly would get the puck when Derek Stepan failed to hold the blue line, take it down the ice and beat Lundqvist short side for the shorthanded goal at 4:27.  The goal by Kelly would snap the goalless drought for the Senators at a whopping 202:57.
The Rangers finally woke up when their best unit took the ice, the penalty kill, once Alex Kovalev was taken down.  During the penalty kill after a series of good defensive plays the puck would get worked up the boards to Brandon Prust who had Marc Staal for the two-on-one but Prust did not pass but shot high glove and beat Leclaire at 10:50 of the period. 
In the third the Rangers would play a better period, their best of the night, but even still it was mostly two lines that were creating all the chances.  The Rangers would have back to back powerplays early in the third and created some chances but got no goals to show for it.  The best line again tonight as too many times of late was that of Boyle, Fedetenko and Prust.  If it was not that line creating chances then it was Dubinsky, Stepan and Callahn or nothing happened. 
At 17:36 of the period Jarko Ruutu would find Chris Kelly who beat Henrik high to the blocker side for the 2-1 lead and that was really the game though Kelly would finish off the hat-trick with an empty-net goal with .8 seconds remaining.  Rangers will next play Thursday in Ottawa.
  • Anyone surprised by this game has not been watching this team over the last two weeks as they have been awful against the good teams and getting away with against the bad ones.  There has not been one good performance for sixty minutes by this team since before Thanksgiving and they finally paid for it against a sub-par team today.
  • Boyle, Prust and Stepan along with Hank were the only guys who consistently showed up today
  • Gaborik for me was once again a non-factor.  His overall numbers look good with 15 points in 16 games but realize 8 of those are in 2 games against the pitiful Islanders and Oilers.  7 points in his other 14 games is not enough for your best offensive player
  • All credit to Leclaire for some excellent saves but when you have 3 different three-on-one chances you have to bury at least one of them.