This trend is beginning to become nauseating; the Rangers play well early on but fail to score and ultimately enter the third period losing. They then make it close enough to give us false hope, only to lose in the end. John Tortorella was calm after the game against Montreal, but I can’t see him feeling the same after tonight’s performance. Jimmy Howard did play well for the Red Wings, but at the same time the Rangers couldn’t finish multiple pucks laying in the slot. Despite letting in 3 goals, Biron did his job and kept the Rangers in the game. Unfortunately, simply keeping this team in the game hasn’t been enough for the Rangers in recent games. On one hand, you can not knock the effort the Rangers put into this game. There are only so many times you can call a game a “learning experience” or a “building block for future success.” The Rangers have done this too many times now, and they’ve reached the point in the season where two points is two points and no amount of effort changes that. Let’s go over some post-game thoughts:
The Powerplay- Maybe I should stop writing about it, but the more I state it needs to improve, the worse it gets. Tonight they went 0-5, and couldn’t score despite spending the final 3:40 on the powerplay, which included a 5-on-3 for 44 seconds. The 5-on-3 was, in particular, embarrassing. After losing the offensive zone faceoff (I know, shocking) three Rangers watched Henrik Zetterberg outwork them in their own end as they battled for the puck and couldn’t do so much as even ENTER the Red Wings’ offensive zone with possession of the puck. The good news is that the Rangers have 3 days off, and I imagine the coaching staff is going to scream at them in practice until they get it right. That’s only if Glen Sather lets Tortorella work on it internally and doesn’t work out a roster move himself.
Pavel Datsyuk- He returned, and his presence hurt us. Aside from his goal, Datysuk made several plays in the offensive zone that led to opportunities for the Red Wings and was a force in the defensive zone. Despite missing so many games with an injury, Datsyuk didn’t look out of place at all and showed everyone why he’s one on the best players in the world.
Sean Avery- Avery had a very good game tonight. He got up the ice and set up Dubinsky’s goal perfectly, drew multiple penalties at the end of the game, and was a force on the forecheck the whole night. Avery puts out an honest effort every night and though he’s having trouble scoring this year, he’s done plenty to keep his spot in the lineup for the rest of the year.
Ryan McDonagh- As Pierre McGuire pointed out, McDonagh has been solid the whole time he’s been with the Rangers and was especially effective tonight. Tortorella is clearly rewarding him for that, as he earned 18:19 of playing time. Though he was on the ice for Hudler’s goal, it was Dubinsky that didn’t pick up Hudler, and Mcdonagh didn’t get beat the whole night and blocked 2 shots. If the Rangers do in fact add another defenseman before the deadline, then I don’t think it’s Mcdonagh that’s roster spot will be in question. He is developing into everything we could have dreamt of since Montreal inexplicably gave him away to us. He is the defenseman the excites me the most out of our current defensive prospects not named Dylan McIlrath.
Every team is going to experience a losing streak throughout the season. It’s simply the law of averages. The Rangers need to make sure they end it soon, though. They have three days off to figure everything out and then play the Thrashers on Friday in Atlanta in a game that has significant playoff implications.