Saturday, February 5, 2011

Power Play Failures Haunt Rangers In 2-0 Loss To Canadiens

Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images
The Rangers went into Montreal this afternoon in search of two points to move up in the Eastern Conference standings and to end a three game losing streak.  Unfortunately when the final horn went they lost 2-0 to the Canadiens and will head to Detroit riding a season high four game losing skid.  Overall in the game the Rangers did a lot of good things.  The team was much more consistent with their forecheck than they have been of late, and Martin Biron was excellent in the net.  The rest of the story was the same as it has been recently with the Rangers failing to capitalize on their chances, falling behind and then attempting a furious comeback in the third period. 

There is only so long though that we can pump up the effort and the chances as positive things before not only is the story old, but the team will be looking down the barrel of missing the playoffs.  There are no moral victories in February.  This is not horseshoe’s or hand grenades so close does not count.  The team needs results on the scoreboard and in the standings.
The first period of the game was one of the more entertaining ones of the season for me.  Both teams played a quick end to end game with some bite and some venom between the two sides.  It had the feel of a playoff atmosphere.  The intensity was only heightened when Brian Boyle coming in on the forecheck hit Jaroslav Spacek in the head with his left arm.  Moments after that there was a large scrum behind the Canadiencs net involving Boyle, Prust and Avery.  Eventually Avery would drop the gloves with Alexandre Picard in a relatively entertaining bout.  Despite the action the game would remain scoreless after one.
During the second period the Rangers dominated the action with their forecheck and it led to them having four consecutive power plays.  Unfortunately for them there is no decline option in the NHL for the power plays because the team would have been better off if there was one.  On those four chances with the man advantage the team managed only one measly shot on goal.  I remarked during the game after the third power play that the Rangers had dominated four of the last ten minutes of the game; the other six they were on the power play.
Late in the second period, it would be the Canadiens who would capitalize on their chance to take the lead.  Scott Gomez would be the benefactor of a lively bounce off the boards behind the Rangers net, show patience with the puck and roof a shot over Martin Biron from the side of the net.  On the play the Rangers also had a defensive breakdown in coverage which allowed Gomez to be so patient on the play.  The goal at 18:34 of the second period would give Montreal a 1-0 lead heading into the final period.
The third period was the a typical third period for the Rangers, furious pressure and control of the chances.  New York outshot Montreal 19-6 in the third, but still were unable to put one behind Carey Price.  Well, that is not exactly true, they did have one tip from Ryan Callahan go behind Price, but he was able to clear the puck out of the crease before it could cross the goal line.
The game would be put away by Tomas Plekanec with 37.4 seconds left in the game when he converted into an empty net.  On the play Mats Zuccarello at a chance to stop the puck with his hand, but instead had it bounce over his stick and Plekanec was off the other way.
  • Sean Avery was the best player on the ice for the Rangers today.
  • After being reunited the Wolski-Stepan-Zuccarello line went back to the form they had before at least in created chances, if not in finishing them.
  • Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan also had their opportunities in this game.
  • The only line that failed to really generate anything was Prospal-Christensen-Gaborik though Vinny was again good individually.  Marian is out of excuses.