The comeback kids need to do it again

Feb 24, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) and center Barclay Goodrow (21) salute the fans with teammates after defeating the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 24, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) and center Barclay Goodrow (21) salute the fans with teammates after defeating the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Rangers took a beating in Newark on Tuesday.   If they are true to form, they will come back with a strong effort against the Penguins.  The bottom line is when they are embarassed in a game, they learn their lesson and it shows in the next game. Let’s look at this season.

October 25:  5-1 loss to Calgary

Just seven games into the season the 4-1-1 Rangers welcomed the Calgary Flames to the Garden and were spanked, 5-1.   Despite allowing five goals, Igor Shesterkin stood on his head in the first period and it could have been much, much worse.

The learned their lesson well, and used three days of practice to get ready for the Columbus Blue Jackets and shut them out, 4-0, playing one of their most complete games of the young season.

November 6:  6-0 loss at Calgary

This could go down as the worst loss of the season as the Rangers were overmatched by the Flames and couldn’t get one past Jacob Markstrom. The Rangers were outshot 37-22 and allowed six goals in the last 44 minutes. It was ugly.

The Rangers returned home in a tailspin. Not only had they lost badly to Calgary, they had blown leads and lost in overtime in Vancouver and Edmonton.  They returned to face the Florida Panthers, off to an amazing, undefeated start, going 10-0-1.

The Blueshirts jumped out to a 4-0 lead,but had to hang on by their fingernails as the Panthers scored three third period goals, including two in the last 86 seconds.  It was impressive win and snapped the longest Rangers losing streak of the season, the only time that they have lost three in a row (with two in overtime).   They won, 4-3 ending the Panthers’ 11 game point streak.

December 8: 7-3 loss to Colorado

This was a bad one and could be chalked up to what Tampa coach Jon Cooper called “scheduled losses.”  It was the second game of a  back-to-back and rookie Adam Huska was the sacrifical lamb, playing goal against the best team in the NHL.  The result was as expected, a one-sided loss to the Avalanche as the Blueshirts gave up the most goals of the season, until the loss to New Jersey on Tuesday.

Two days later, the Rangers played  a solid defensive game in Buffalo, winning 2-1 with Alexandar Georgiev in net.  The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and made the lead hold up, allowing only one Sabres goal late in the third period.

January 6: 5-1 loss at Vegas

The Rangers started a west coast road trip with a bad loss in Las Vegas.  It was actually a 1-1 tie midway through the second period, but then the floodgates opened as the Golden Knights scored four straight goals, with a Brett Howden goal really rubbing it in.

The Rangers came back two days later in Anaheim with an unlikely hero leading the way.  Jarred Tinordi scored his only goal of the season early in the third period and then Ryan Lindgren added two third period goals for a 4-1 win with Georgiev in net.

January 21:  6-3 loss at Carolina

Rangers fans were looking forward to this test against the Metropolitan Division leading Carolina Panthers.  Unfortunately, the Hurricanes dominated from the opening faceoff, winning 6-3.   They score three goals before the Rangers were able to get on the board and then they added two more in the second.

The Rangers scored twice in the third period, but it was Tony DeAngelo who put the Rangers away with a late power play goal.

The Rangers had the challenge of flying back to New York to face the Arizona Coyotes and things didn’t look good as the Coyotes opened a 3-1 lead just seven minutes into the second period.  That’s when the Blueshirts woke up and scored six straight goals for a 7-3 win. It was their biggest output of the season.

March 10: 6-2 loss at St. Louis

The Rangers dropped a 6-2 decision in St. Louis, just two days after losing 5-2 in Minnesota.   The Blues were in a dogfight for a playoff spot and smarting from a loss at Madison Square Garden a week earlier.  They jumped all over the Rangers, scoring three times in 2:36 in the first period and adding two goals in 42 seconds in the second period. That chased Igor Shesterkin for the first time this season.

The Rangers then travelled to Dallas for the last game of a tough four game road trip and came away with a 7-4 win,  matching their best goal output of the season.  Shesterkin came back from tough start for the win.  The Rangers carried a tenuous 4-3 lead into the third period when new dad Patrik Nemeth scored a third period goal to restore a two goal lead.

Looking forward to the Penguins

As illustrated, the Rangers are not a team to sit back and suffer bad losses. They have been remarkably consistent in their ability to recover and win after losing one-sided games.

It’s something they didn’t do last season. The lost 5-1 to Pittsburgh and dropped the next two games. They followed up a 6-1 loss to the Islanders by losing to the Flyers. Let’s not even talk about the end of the season with tough losses to the Islanders and Capitals that the Blueshirts couldn’t answer with a victory.

The Devils’ win on Tuesday was more of a series of mental gaffes and a lack of concentration.  If past history is any indication, they will come out firing on all cylinders against the Penguins.  The Pens came from behind to salvage a point against the Sabres on Wednesday and have lost in regulatin only twice in their last eight games.  They also boast the best road record in the league at 21-7-5.

The Rangers will have their hands full, but they been down this road before.  Let’s see if they play true to form.

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