Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lousy Start, Lousy Officiating Doom Rangers in 2-1 Loss to Lightning.

Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images
In a refrain that Rangers fans are tired of hearing, Sam Rosen ended today’s game with, “they just ran out of time.”  This team continues to battle late in games, but they are coming up short in the close ones far too often right now.  Losing the games is one thing, but losing in regulation and failing to get any points is really hurting them both in securing a solid playoff footing and in their ability to rise in the standings.  Other than against Carolina on Tuesday they are just unable to come up with that tying goal late in games and that is why it ended up in a 2-1 defeat against Tampa Bay.  The loss dropped New York back to 14-14-3 at home and that simply is not good enough if you want to go anywhere in the postseason.
I am with everyone that there was some horrific officiating in this one whether it was the phantom boarding call on Girardi or the even more made up interference call on Dubinsky at the blue line when the Lightning play fell on his ass all by himself.  Having said that, the officiating is not responsible for the utter lack of effort the Rangers put on offensively in the first period this afternoon.  This team still seems to fail to grasp the concept of playing 60 minutes and that is not about the officials. Overall the team played an awful first period in which they developed nothing offensively and generated only one lousy shot in the first 19 minutes.  Defensively they played pretty well on the whole, but would give up the only goal. 
The Lightning struck first on a slap shot from Martin St. Louis at the right faceoff circle.  The shot would squeeze through Lundqvist as he was working from side to side to get into position.  Dan Girardi got caught pinching on the play and it led to a 3-on-2 for Lecavalier, St. Louis and Downie against McDonagh and Stepan the two Rangers back.  St. Louis carried the puck down the right side, dropped it back to down who fed it back to St. Louis for the one-time goal.  I will not call it a soft goal, but it is one that Lundqvist usually stops.  Lost in the goal itself was Roloson getting away with illegally touching the puck outside the trapezoid not long before the goal.
New York played a much better second period than first and they would get rewarded on the scoreboard.  The Rangers penalty killing unit was again their best source of offense and led to their only goal.  While down a man Brian Boyle ties up a man in the defensive zone along the wall, Ryan McDonagh picks up the puck and outlets it to Brandon Prust in neutral ice.  Prust collects the puck and skates aroun Marc-Andre Bergeron and in on goalie Dwayne Roloson.  Prust and Roloson collided as the puck went in the net, but the goal stood after a review.  The tally was Prust’s fourth shorthanded goal, which is one off the NHL lead and gave the Rangers 10 on the season.
The penalty kill was brilliant this afternoon in fighting through the combination of lousy penalties by Rangers players and lousy calls by the officials, but you knew if you kept giving them chances that Tampa would finally convert.  They did in the third period.
While on a 5-on-3 the Lightning scored the go ahead and eventual game winning goal. Vinny Lecavalier would score from almost the identical spot as Martin St. Louis, except his one-time was a perfect shot far side off the post.  The reason for the 5-on-3 was some ridiculously bad officiating.  Dan Girardi was called for an awful boarding call at 1:11 of the period and then Brian Boyle would go off for flipping the puck over the glass for a delay of game at 2:04.  Against that offense you cannot be down two men or you will likely be fishing the puck out of the net as they were 2:40 into the third.
The Rangers would again generate chances late, but not find a way to get the tying goal to at least get one point out of the game.
  • McCabe played well in his debut while doing excellent work keeping pucks in the zone and firing his shot at the net.  He will get better, but you already saw that he can make a difference on the power play.
  • No forwards really stood out to me today.  Callahan, Boyle and Prust played well on the PK, but we generated nothing offensively in the game.  Stepan was probably the most noticeable in their zone.
  • Lots of talk about Sean Avery and the 54 seconds he played the last two periods today.