Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rangers Brutal Defensive Effort Costs Them in 4-1 Loss To Carolina

Those looking for the Rangers to build on last night’s domination were sorely disappointed in tonight’s effort in Carolina falling 4-1 to the Hurricanes.  The offense reverted to how it had been playing before last night and the defense had its worst game in a long time with numerous mistakes in terms of odd-man rushes and blown assignments.  The game with all the injuries the team is fighting through right now was far too open as they do not have the skill throughout the lineup to play an up and down game.  They have to stick to their grinding system and that certainly was absent from tonight’s game.

The game started out in flying fashion with chances on both sides, but the All-Star goaltenders were up to the task early on. Dan Girardi would help out his goaltender at 2:19 of the period when he stopped a sure goal by clearing the puck off the goal line.  At 5:39 the Rangers would not get as lucky when Mats Zuccarello tried to clear a puck out from behind Henrik Lundqvist, but would knock it off Henrik’s skate and into the net for a Chad Larose goal to make it 1-0 Carolina.

The Rangers game would slip after giving up the opening goal and the chances would keep coming for the Hurricanes.  The Canes would make it 2-0 on the power play when the penalty kill did an awful job of moving leaving Jussi Jokinen alone in front to deflect a Joe Corvo point shot in.  Girardi had to close the space down and either take the body or control the stick on the play.

Early in the second period, after Gaborik gets the puck stuck in his skates Carolina ends up going the other way with a breakaway for Brandon Sutter who deked Lundqvist and slid the puck under him on the backhand.  On this one it was a breakdown on Anisimov getting beat down the ice and Marc Staal failing to get over and cover for Girardi who fanned when he stepped up in the neutral zone.

A couple of fights late in the second would try and spark the team.  First it was Brandon Purst taking on Jay Harrison and after getting inside late in the bout Prust would land the biggest blow of the fight and win.  Immediately after the ensuing drop of the puck Kris Newbury would abuse Ryan Carter.

Just past the midway point in the third period, Brandon Prust would get the team on the board with a goal from the slot that beat Ward high glove.  The play would start in the defensive zone with Ryan McDonagh feeding Chad Kolarik who made a beautiful diagonal pass to Prust to create the play.  The assists for McDonagh and Kolarik were the first NHL points for each guy.

If one thought a rally was in the cards Jeff Skinner would end those thoughts with just over four minutes to go when he would stuff one in from the crease.  On the play Marc Staal was burned wide by Chad LaRose who threw it in front to Skinner who was free when Derek Stepan failed to properly check his stick.
The Rangers best forward in the game was Chad Kolarik who was making his team debut this evening.  He was consistently involved and creating chances during his 8:48 on the ice.  Frankly it is shocking to see he only played 8:48 as it felt like he was out there much more than that.  In the limited time he had the assist and four shots.

Offensively the Rangers created chances getting 40 shots on goal, but once again they could not solve Cam Ward.  Marian Gaborik disappeared once again, so we will find out Saturday if yesterday was the fluke or tonight was just an off night.

The entire defense was pretty brutal tonight, but the worst offenders were Marc Staal and Dan Girardi who are typically the team’s rocks back there.  I have no doubt that Tortorella will harp them hard for their defensive effort and you cannot blame that on the new guys because it was the guys who have been here all year and beyond that were bad.