After the Rangers broke a three-game losing streak Monday night in a 5-2 win against the Coyotes, many Ranger fans expected the team to build upon the positive result away to the Islanders tonight; but that would not be the case. The Blueshirts came out flat to start the game and really never hit their stride all night. Each period the Rangers would apply a duration of pressure to the Islanders which usually resulted in a couple of good chances (including at least two or three posts); but in the end the Rangers just could not get the job done in a game where the Rangers could have proved something with the absence of Marion Gaborik.
Right out of the gate the Islanders controlled the play which led to the breakaway goal by Matt Moulson. Matt Gilroy pinched up attempting to start a rush but eventually lost the puck. Jack Hillen fired a solid pass up the middle to a curling Moulson who made no mistake going stick side on Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers still took a couple of minutes to wake up, but around five minutes into the period the momentum shifted and the Rangers began to apply pressure. A dump into the Islanders zone allowed Chris Higgins to play the body and force the Islanders Defense to move the puck into the other corner. After Brandon Dubinski pressured the puck again, it bounced loose to P.A. Parenteau who quickly cradled to his backhand and shot far-side from about the right-cirlce hashmark past a Chris Higgins screen for his first NHL goal. It was one of the lone bright spots in an overall poor team effort by the Rangers.
The Blueshirts started the second better by applying pressure early. But after no results Sean Avery took a hooking penalty with about four minutes to go that put the Islanders on the Power-Play. The Islanders eventually got set up and Kyle Okposo eventually cleaned up a rebound on a great save by Henrik Lundqvist on Jack Hillen (who received a solid cross-zone pass from Doug Weight).
The Islanders continued the overall pressure in the third keeping the Rangers to low-percentage shots with the exception of a couple of chances. The Blueshirts had an early and late chance on the Power-Play in the third, but neither man advantage yielded even a great chance as the Rangers ended up 0 for 4 on the Power-Play for the night. With about five minute to go, Michal Rozival chased a puck back into his zone with John Tavares close behind him. Rozival barley moved the puck to the opposite corner while breaking his stick as Tavares took him to the boards. Rozival went to move the puck with his hand when Jeff Tambellini got to the puck first and fed it to Tavares. Tavares attacked the net and attempted to make a pass which bounced right off Wade Redden back to Tavares who then shot short-side off Henrik Lundqvist for the third and final Islander goal of the night.
With the summary done, here are my thoughts on the night:
- To be completely frank, the Rangers just didn't get the job done tonight. I said after the Coyotes game that good teams find a way to win and win with confidence (which I thought they did Monday). Today was an inconsistent and disappointing effort from over two-thirds of the Rangers that dressed tonight.
- Congratulations to P.A. Parenteau on his first NHL goal. It was a beauty of a backhander and I'm sure we will hear some chatter about how long P.A. will stay with the big club
- The only two names that come to mind when I try to think of players who didn't play absolutely brutal all game are Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist. Staal manhandled Tavares two to three times at least along with moving the puck up-ice well. King Henrik, meanwhile, kept us in this game with many difficult saves. I don't blame him for being upset with Dan Girardi on the second Islanders goal (Okposo rebound) as Girardi should have gotten body-position on the puck and gotten a stick on it.
- Did anyone catch that stat presented by MSG saying that around 60% of NYR goals this year have been scored by first-year Rangers? Scoring was the biggest issue over the summer, so I found that interesting to say the least.
- I thought for the most part that the fourth line of Boyle-Anisimov-Voros was generally effective all night. I still think that if Anisimov gets a shot at third-line center he can put up better points as he will have capable wingers that can finish.
- Tactics wise, the Rangers seemed to be forcing the puck through the neutral zone and into the Islanders zone. As a player you get frustrated and just want to go setup some offense, so I know how this feels. Unfortunately the Rangers never really adjusted and the Islanders did a good job of forcing the Rangers to turn over the puck before their zone.
- Finally, as we all know someone is going to say something about it, I think there is some truth to the Rangers missing Marion Gaborik in the lineup. Next time he plays just watch when he gets the puck. Few players chase and aggressively pressure him because he is so good at making people miss. That is what playmakers and snipers do, and with no true sniper on the ice tonight, the Islanders chased like chickens with their heads cut off and got away with it.
That's all for tonight, folks. In the end hopefully this is a mini wake-up call for the squad. Sometimes as a team and player you just don't have it on certain nights; and I'm hoping this was the case. Henrik was great as always, and I hope the "fights" in the stands were won by Blueshirt fans (half-kidding, I hope nothing serious happened). Vent in the comments, please.