It was the first regular season game in months for the New York Rangers. Across an entire ocean, their 2011-2012 began with an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 3-2.
The prominent theme in this game for the Rangers was penalty trouble. Ryan McDonagh went off for a tripping penalty late in the overtime period and Jack Johnson, parked in front of the net, was able to score the game-winner on the power play with :52 seconds to play.
Newcomer Mike Richards tied the game at 2 in the 3rd period to give the Kings a chance at winning. Brad Richards, playing in his first game as a Ranger, assisted on Marian Gaborik’s 1st goal of the season midway through the 3rd period. Anze Kopitar and Ryan Callahan had the other goals for their respective teams.
Henrik Lundqvist, playing in his native Sweden, had a superb start to his season despite giving up 3 goals, making 27 saves in a losing effort.
Continue reading to get the full post-game report for today’s game.
Henrik Lundqvist played exactly the way I thought he would: tremendously. He was the reason the Rangers weren’t blown out of the building in the first 10 minutes of the game when the Kings dominated play. He’ll also take the blame on the Kings 2nd goal as his body language suggested he could have stopped it.
Dan Girardi stepped up to be the defensive leader today. 30:18 minutes of ice time!! He played more than half the game. You can’t ask for more from your defensive workhorses.
Despite starting slow, the top line of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, and Brandon Dubinsky improved as the game progressed. Richards’ teammates need to learn that his passes are going to open them up and to be ready for it.
Continuing with that, Gaborik looked very good in this game, especially in the 3rd period. He was using his legs, which is a crucial element in his game, and was driving to the net. A productive Gaborik will make the Rangers go.
Ryan Callahan, playing in his first game as Rangers captain, atoned for his turnover on the 1st Kings goal by scoring his own shortly thereafter. He also had 11 of the 26 shots the Rangers had all game. He played a solid game as captain.
Rangers were 34-60 in total on faceoffs with Brad Richards going 9-11 and Brandon Dubinsky 7-13. Even Derek Stepan went 3-4! (And no, that’s not a typo)
Michael Del Zotto still forces things that don’t need to be forced. Did he have a decent game today? Yes, but he still makes terrible cross-ice passes that either lead to turnovers or kill rushes. Plus, he didn’t exactly play Richards perfectly on his game-tying goal, failing to lift his stick. He wasn’t atrocious but DZ still needs some work.
Rangers came out flat to start the game. It was a trend that happened at times last year as well. Torts seemed to have lit a fire in them in between periods but better starts to the game are something the Rangers need make sure happen more often than not.
Mike Rupp didn’t really stand out in his 1st game as a Ranger. I expect that to change as he gets used to playing in the Rangers’ system.
Despite having a solid game along side Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh took a questionable call in OT that lead to the GWG for the Kings. Yes, it looked like Willie Mitchell dove. But it’s the mere fact McD put himself in that position by putting his stick in between and putting his free hand on Mitchell.
There were only 5 penalties against the Rangers, but 5 penalties too many AND at the worst of times. The one negative throughout the preseason for the Rangers were the alarming amounts of penalties they were taking each game and it has followed them into the regular season. It needs to be addressed quickly. It got them behind the 8-ball in the 1st period and took them nearly 2 periods before they got their offensive flow. You won’t win many hockey games killing penalties the majority of the time.
The Rangers undisciplined play cost them today. Take solace in getting a point because, if not for Henrik Lundqvist’s early brilliance, the Blueshirts go home empty handed.
Next Game: Tomorrow 1:00PM in Stockholm, Sweden again to face the Anaheim Ducks.
Make sure to check out Rink Royalty for their scoop on today’s contest.
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Tags: Brad Richards Dan Girardi Drew Doughty Henrik Lundqvist Los Angeles Kings Marian Gaborik Michael Del Zotto New York Rangers Opening Day Ryan McDonagh Stockholm Sweden Too Many Penalties Undisicplined Play