New York Rangers: After 2-1 loss to the Islanders, time to get serious

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Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)

After losing 2-1, the abbreviated exhibition season is over for the New York Rangers

No one should lose sleep about the New York Rangers 2-1 loss to the Islanders in the one exhibition game they will play before the Stanley Cup Qualifier begins Saturday.  If anything, the team should be encouraged because they were forced to play against a top defensive team that wanted to win as badly as they did.   The final result wasn’t what they would have wanted, but it was a great warm up.

The Blueshirts got into early penalty trouble and spent much of the first ten minutes killing penalties, including a two man disadvantage.  Luckily, the Islander offense is lacking and they were unable to score.   The first period was scoreless and the Rangers actually had the best opportunities.

The Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov was the single biggest reason they won the game.  He was spectacular stopping Jesper Fast three times from point blank range and finished with 19 saves over two periods.

Igor Shesterkin was almost a good, beaten only on a break-in by Anthony Beauvillier at 9:15 of the second period.  The Rangers played a much tighter game in front of Shesterkin, despite the many penalties and he faced only six shots. Right after the goal, he was replaced by Henrik Lundqvist.

Thomas Greiss took over for Varlamov in the third period.  Both goalies gave up one goal with Lundqvist beaten by Devon Toews at 15:35 on an outstanding shot after sneaking by the Ranger defense for a breakaway .   Lundqvist ended up stopping 11 of 12 shots including three on the penalty kill.

Filip Chytil got the Rangers on the scoreboard less than one minute later, scoring on a sweet pass from Jesper Fast who had been stopped on a breakaway.

The Rangers pulled the Lundqvist with about three minutes left, but the Islanders showed why they are one of the top defensive teams in the league, not giving the Rangers any shots.

Coach David Quinn was not happy about the result, saying that he thought the Rangers played a good first half, but let frustration get in the way , leading to the two Islander goals.  He explained “I thought it was a mixed bag.  I liked our start, I thought we came out,  I thought we had good pace, our penalty kill was good.  But I thought as the game went on, I thought we got a little frustrated.   It’s gonna be hard hockey here, it was hard hockey tonight…if we’re going to be successful and if we’re going to have a chance to be more productive offensively, we need to get inside more, we need to be harder…overall I thought it was another step forward.”

He singled out Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko for praise.  They both played a very forceful game and Kakko in particular showed no hesitation to shoot.  To be honest, he looked like a different player.  Quinn moved players around and at times had Kakko on the wing with Panarin and Strome.

The team seemed to make it through the game unscathed though Marc Staal didn’t play much of the third period.  After the game, Quinn said that it was precautionary and will not affect him playing on Saturday.  Since the Blueshirts were allowed to dress extra players, Libor Hajek saw a lot of action late in the game.

The other extra player was Brendan Lemieux who will not see any action until Game Three of the  Carolina series due to his suspension.   He had a very active game, fighting with Johnny Boychuk and taking an embellishing penalty to negate an Islander penalty and gave up a costly giveaway.   He has been replaced on the third line by Phil Di Guiseppe who had a solid effort.

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