Well, I can describe my emotions regarding this game with many words, but one word that isn’t included in that list is “shocked.” The game tonight was hardly different from majority of the games in the past month or so. A single period the Rangers dominated, but didn’t produce enough in. A single period that lost the game for us. An inefficient powerplay. Deflections working against us. A scramble at the end of the game to tie it up. Different game, same story. Not much else to say. Let’s look at the post-game notes:
Jose Theodore- Wild coach Todd Richards played him on a whim tonight. Who the hell forgot to tell Three-or-more that it’s not 2002? He sure as hell played like he did back then. After looking shaky in the first five minutes, Theodore completely shut the Rangers down tonight. Sure, he got some help, like when Dubinsky decided his best option was to pass the puck into the boards behind the net on a 2-on-1. But he really bailed the Wild out when the defense was lost. After some journeyman years, he’s really saved his career to an extent with the job he’s done in Minnesota.
Brandon Dubinsky- This has nothing to do with his injury anymore. Dubinsky started the season playing with confidence and looking to fire the puck at the net. Tonight was as complacent as I’ve seen Dubinsky play this season. You could tell in his post game interview that his confidence is down.
2nd Goal- As great as the Rangers’ effort was in the first period, the Rangers’ inability to score after Avery’s goal cost them. The Wild generated virtually nothing themselves and gave the Rangers multiple power play opportunities. The Rangers had multiplate chances to put the Wild away early but failed to do so and kept them in the game. When a team basically begs you to put them in a deep hole early on, you HAVE to take advantage of that. That’s what teams who belong in the playoffs do. To allow the Wild no shots through the first 17 minutes of the game and then watch them score 3 goals on you in the other two periods while you have no answer is inexcusable.
Brian Boyle- He’s been great for many reasons this year, but one thing he needs to work on is his defensive coverage at even strength. Too many times this year he’s chased the puck and left someone open in the slot. He chased the man with the puck and left P.M. Bouchard wide open in the slot as he put the 3rd goal in. The center has a major responsibility in blocking off any passes into the slot, and he needs to better understand his role concerning defensive zone positioning.
Power Play- After two games of improvement, the power play went back to being irrelevant tonight. They failed to score on all four opportunities given to them, and only on the second opportunity did the power play flow and create opportunities. Meanwhile, Minnesota put the puck in the net on their only chance of the game. That’s simply unacceptable. The Rangers shouldn’t be getting four times the opportunities on the power play as the other team and still get outproduced. The Rangers, for whatever reason, have some sort of fear of screening the goaltender in the slot, and the defensemen always seem to get the to the puck first on rebounds. That is the biggest failure on the power play right now.
There’s a lot more I could point out but it’s generally not worth it. You all know the issues. The Rangers have 16 games to right the ship. Chad Johnson is expected to get the start tomorrow against Ottawa. John Tortorella said in the press conference that Ryan McDonagh is day to day with a knee injury, so we lucked out there. That had the potential to be a lot worse than it ended up being.