Watching tonight you would not believe that the Rangers were the team that was sitting in 7th place in the Eastern Conference and that the Devils were the team that spent months at the bottom of the NHL standings. From start to finish the Devils outworked and simply competed harder the New York Rangers and if not for Henrik Lundqvist the final score would have been a lot worse than 1-0. I thought this was the worst 60 minutes effort of the season and while I do not believe a whole lot in the shot totals, a 15 shot effort has to speak to that to some extent. The lack of urgency in this game was a startling sight to witness and if it is not remedied they will get blown out Sunday. This discussion about fatigue here and there is nonsense. I am not going to waste my time or insult your intelligence, this was not just about a team that was a step slow tonight, this was about a team that mailed it in.
The first period started out pretty even with the first really good chances coming about 3:30 in as Erik Christensen would make a pretty feed to spring Mats Zuccarello, but Johan Hedberg would stop him multiple times. As the play continued Zuccarello worked behind the net and fed Christensen out fron while Hedberg was down, but Christensen rushed the shot and missed the net. The Devils would collect the puck and spring Brian Rolston on a breakaway that was turned aside by Henrik Lundqvist.
The second half of the period saw the Devils utterly dominate the play and if not for Henrik Lundqvist the Rangers would have been down multiple goals. The last shot the Rangers managed to record was with 7:03 left in the period. Staal and Girardi had an awful first period and their lack of clearing the crease is only getting worse, especially when compared to how Sauer and McDonagh do it.
The early second period action saw the Devils continue the domination that marked the end of the first. Sauer took an early penalty that the Rangers would kill off. During the kill Marian Gaborik was out with the second unit and I understand they want to get him more ice, but you cannot put Gaborik out there to guard Kovalchuk’s point spot because he is certainly not getting in the way of those bombs.
Marc Staal’s rough night got worse just after eight minutes into the period as he failed to keep the puck in and the right point and when he tried to recover he stumbled down, which allowed Kovalchuk to have a clear breakaway and he cashed in by beating Lundqvist low glove side. The goal at 8:18 of the second gave the Devils a 1-0 lead. This was the seventh straight game and 11th in 12 that the Rangers surrendered the opening goal of the game.
The Rangers would get a power play right after surrendering the goal, but it generated nothing. The team had little to no energy until late in the period when Mats Zuccarello would once again get feisty in front of the net challenging Colin White. Have to love the heart and intensity that Zuccarello plays the game with as he has absolutely no fear.
The third period would see a better effort, where they hit the post in the opening moments of the period, but overall it was still a lousy effort by the team as a whole.
- Mats Zuccarello was by far the Rangers best forward tonight, playing with more energy and fire than possibly the rest of them combined
- Marian Gaborik was invisible and only made to look worse by how dominant Kovalchuk was
- Vinny Prospal’s skating is getting worse as the games go on, not better. The team is simply asking too much of him and I would not be surprised to see him take a rest soon.
- Staal from the opening shifts had no legs tonight and yet he still was sent out there 27:53. This has to stop or he is going to be toast the final 10 games.
- Sauer and McDonagh were the best pair once again
- Gilroy played better tonight than he has of late as he started to jump in the play more
- Lundqvist was excellent in this one despite the result