I know I warned of this, playing down to the level of your opponent. A Rangers “staple” of play to some fans. They knew what was at stake and yet still layed an egg of a game that could have padded their cushion from playoff oblivion.
Ryan Shannon was able to convert a bang-bang played started by Bobby Butler on a 3-on-2 with 4:39 to go in the 2nd period. It would stand up until Brandon Prust, off a brilliant feed from Marc Staal as he was upended by Chris Neil, fired a laser of a shot past Craig Anderson at 17:15 of the 3rd period. The game would eventually go to a shootout, where Erik Karlsson scored the winner to seal the 2-1 victory for his team.
We’re left to dissect a game that, at times, was much worse to watch than the “barnburner” we saw against the Panthers on Tuesday night. At least, in that game, your Boys in Blue played with a bit more effort, patience, and smarts. In this game, the Rangers couldn’t muster up enough energy or attention to an Ottawa team in transition looking to get a lottery pick and rebuild its franchise.
Let’s see how the Rangers arrived there…
This game cannot be blamed on Henrik Lundqvist. Once again, The King gave his team a chance for a win were they able to convert on some of their chances. Despite the loss, Lundqvist is now 7-2-1 in his last 10 games with a 1.86 GAA and .936 sv %. Add to it 19 consecutive starts. Sore neck? Mere child’s play.
Marc Staal made his return to the lineup after a 2 game absence due to an injury. What kind of injury? The world may never know as coach Tortorella decided to go StaalGate on the media about it. However, along with his nifty pass to Prust for the game tying goal, Staal was back to his customary 29:34 of ice-time. It’s good to have him back. He is the anchor to the young defense corps the Rangers own. The calming influence, if you will.
Another tip of the cap to the opposition’s goalie. Craig Anderson deserves credit for his performance. He’s been very good since joining Ottawa (good for 10 wins), already earning an extension. The last matuchp between these 2 teams, Anderson gave up 4 goals. This time around he stymed the Rangers’ offense and outwitted the Rangers’ shooters in the shootout. Anderson is now 5-2-1 all time against New York, lowering his career 1.84 GAA and .947 sv %.
Coming away with 3 points in 2 games where you only scored 2 goals is an accomplishment. Not one to be proud of, but points are points.
Marian Gaborik is the one to blame for the Shannon goal. He did not come back with enough effort on the play to guard his man and you saw him bang his stick on the ice afterwards, admitting his wrong. His defensive lapse wasn’t the reason they lost, but you need to have your superstar talent playing both ends of the ice with equal effort. His play did pick up afterwards. Just wasn’t enough.
Erik Christensen is an enigma. I’m just joining the party on that one. Its maddening how good he can be vs how good he performs in games. This was the 3rd straight game where he was benched at some point. If he is only good enough to you in the shootout then he has no place on your team for if/when the playoffs come around.
Mats Zuccarello and Ruslan Fedotenko also so limited or no ice time in the 3rd period as well. If Fedotenko, a Tortorella favorite, is being benched then you know there is something wrong with the team’s effort level. Maybe time for Sean Avery to return to the lineup?
I wasn’t too thrilled with the shootout choices. I understand that Christensen, Zuccarello, and Wolski have been your best all season, but they barely played in the 3rd period. Plus, they haven’t gotten the job done lately. Would have liked to seen others in their place. Artem Anisimov is one of those names. And Ryan Callahan shouldn’t be out there either. He’s now 0-4 this season, including an embarrassing broken stick.
Aside from Lunqvist, and maybe a handful of other players, the rest of the Rangers’ effort left something to be desired last night. To me, it looked like New York were passengers, taking their opponent for granted. Keep in mind, Ottawa is the same club that was able to knock off the red-hot New Jersey Devils twice lately. You simply cannot put forth that kind of effort at home. It hasn’t happened often this season and shouldn’t happen at all the rest of the season.
Where They Stand:
Gaining at least 1 point, the Rangers (40-30-5 85 pts) actually edged closer to 6th-place Montreal (40-28-7 87 pts), as the Canadiens took a 7-0 pounding from the Bruins last night . Buffalo (36-28-9 81 pts) and Carolina (34-29-10 78 pts )are still behind but also have 2 games in hand on New York. The Sabres host the Panthers while the Hurricanes are on the road in Tampa Bay tonight.
A Saturday matinee with the Northeast-leading Bruins(41-22-10 92 pts) in Boston at 1:00PM
Make sure to check out the SenShot blog here on Fansided for their perspective & reaction to last night’s game.