Thursday, February 3, 2011

Prospal Great In Return, But Lundqvist Falters As Rangers Fall 3-2 To Devils

Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images
The Rangers can talk about the chances and how close they came both at the end of the first and the end of the game, but the reality is this team has blown five prime points in their last three games by getting complacent in their play.  Good teams, playoff teams, beat the teams they are supposed to beat and take every game with a sense of seriousness and urgency to not let inferior teams hang around.  The Rangers have failed to do that in each of the last three games and only have one point as a result.

There is no doubt that on this night the blame starts in net with Henrik Lundqvist.  Fact of the matter is that he simply was not good enough tonight and his coach said so after the game.  Those who will seek to use a performance like this to bring up nonsense like Henrik is garbage and the Rangers should trade him are morons and not fans of the team.  Plain and simple it was a bad night and everyone is going to have them.  The key for the Rangers is to hae it stop right here because they are going nowhere without Lundqvist at the top of his game.

If there is a bright spot to take from this game it is clearly the play of Vinny Prospal.  For a guy who has missed the entire season to this point, Vinny played like he was at full speed in this one.  There was some rust, but that was to be expected.  What I did not expect was for Prospal to be able to go through the whole game with the kind of impact he had tonight as for me he was clearly the Rangers best forward in the game.  We will find out tomorrow if the game for Prospal was the adrenaline of being back or it was something he can build on, but on this night he was clearly the positive note.  The celebration after his goal was pure Prospal and the kind of enthusiasm this team could use more of.

Details of the game below.

The start was certainly not what the Rangers wanted as just 1:04 into the game Ilya Kovalchuk had his shot deflect off the knee of Michael Sauer and beat Henrik Lundqvist high glove.  The goal while great placement is one of those Henrik would love to have back and he went down way too soon on the play.

A few minutes later Vinny Prospal had a golden chance in front as the puck came right to him, but being rusty he rushed and slide the backhander wide to the far post.  Other than that the Rangers best chances came late in the period, when on the power play they got multiple shots through from the point and Brandon Dubinsky ended up with a wide open net, but he would backhand a shot off the crossbar.
The second period was no better for the Rangers All-Star netminder.  Just over eight minutes into the period Henrik would have a Zubrus shot in the slot trickles through his pads.  Dan Girardi would try to save the puck from going in as he swiped it off the goal line, but it would bounce off Lundqvist’s back and in the net.  The night would end for Henrik after giving up a third goal to Brian Rolston just over 15 minutes into the period.
The Rangers would get one back in the second when Ryan Callahan would score a goal very similar to Kovalchuk’s in which Brodeur went down too early and got beat top corner, short side.  Prospal would get his goal from a bad angle shot 2:11 into the third while the Rangers were on a 5-on-3.  The team would have chances after that, but the combination of bad plays and failure to capitalize on opportunities would leave them a goal short.

It would take another third period comeback to salvage points in this one and for some reason I did not see it happening tonight.  I said before the third that the team would get within one, have chances to tie but like Montreal and Philly fail to ever get it. Unfortunately I was right.  The Rangers will look to rebound from this funky play on Saturday in Montreal, which has been a house of horrors for them.
  • Dubinsky is either really rusty right now or hurt and fighting it as he has horrific finishing the last two games
  • Gaborik had flashes, but still no real results
  • Brian Boyle was as invisible as I can remember this season
  • Michael Del Zotto needs to go down the AHL and stay there NOW
  • Gilroy is in the PP doghouse for some reason