Friday, February 11, 2011

Rangers Collapse Late Sending Them To Sixth Straigh Loss

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This one hurts.  There is no other way to say it than that simple sentence.  When you are the New York Rangers, have lost five games in a row, and are playing a team chasing you in the playoffs you have to finish off a game where you have a 2-1 lead with six minutes left.   You cannot blow that game and talk about the playoffs without hearing Jim Mora echoing in the background as the losing streak extends to six consecutive games and everyone behind them is getting that much closer, and have games in hand.
The Rangers played well again in the first period, but once again had nothing to show for it.  The Blueshirts would fall behind 1-0 on an Anthony Stewart tally.  The goal came midway through the first when Evander Kane caused an Artem Anisimov turnover in the neutral zone, fed the puck to Alex Burmistrov and Burmistrov saucered a pass over a sliding Michael Del Zotto to Stewart who slid it under Henrik Lundqvist.  On the play Matt Gilroy fell down in the transition from offense back to defense which created the two-on-one opportunity.  I really hate the slide play by all Rangers defenders because they never seem to make it work and Del Zotto employs the tactic way too often.  That would be the only tally of the period.
The Rangers would generate not only an early power play, but actually score a power play goal to open the second period.  Stewart took a bad offensive zone penalty and the Rangers would win the ensuing draw, Staal would head towards the net and after a beautiful pass from Prospal to Gaborik would fail to be capitalized on by Gaborik, Staal would put home the rebound.
The Rangers would strike again early in the third period, when Marian Gaborik would make a beautiful feed to Brandon Dubinsky who would beat Pavelec high to give the Rangers their first lead in an astonishing 255:35.  That would be about the point where the Rangers highlights would end.
At 7:36 of the third period, with the team up 2-1 on the scoreboard, Marian Gaborik had a penalty shot chance to in some respects salt away the game and frankly he choked.  This is that moment where the great players find a way, even will the puck into the net and he came up short.  While that is the case that is not the reason the team lost, but more on that later.
The last six minutes of the game were the Evander Kane show.  Kane would tie the game with just under six to play on a somewhat lucky goal that he would partially fan on the backhand and bounces and deflections would see it in.  Following an awful turnover and penalty by Michael Del Zotto, it would be Kane again on the power play with just 2:20 to go in the game.  The penalty and the turnover are on Del Zotto, but the goal was pitiful coverage where Kane got second and third chances with no one clearing the puck out.
The guy that really got the short end and will take the loss the hardest is Henrik Lundqvist.  His defense left him hanging on at least two of the three goals after he made numerous brilliant saves to keep them in the game and then maintain the lead early in the third.  Way too many turnovers tonight and as I said, defensive zone was bad.
Marian Gaborik was the Rangers best player tonight.  I know he didn’t finish his chances and he must start doing that, but without Gaborik they are not in this game at all.  He skated hard, he took shots, he was aggressive in all zones.  As I said this afternoon, Gaborik would start to turn it around tonight and he did in the effort department.  If I get 25 more efforts like that one out of Marian I will not have a bad word to say about him and the goals will come.  Anyone who watched that game and is complaining about Gaborik needs to check to see if they really watched the game and not just read the negative comments section on twitter.
Michael Del Zotto belongs in the minors, there is no other way to say it, but he did not lose this game for the Rangers.  That was a TEAM collapse.
Gilroy played a very poor game tonight as if he was trying to get Eminger in the lineup or knew DZ was going to screw the pooch and wanted to save him.
You have to love Prust’s heart and will, but he needs to be smarter about when to fight and who to fight.  There was no purpose to his fight with Boulton tonight and he took his worst beating of the year in the scrap.