Needless to say, tonight's effort was the worst of the season. Worse than the 8-3 loss to the Penguins, worse than the 2-1 loss to the Islanders a few weeks back, and possibly even worse than last year's 10-2 loss to the Dallas Stars. I mean, I really cannot pick out any one thing the Rangers did right in this game. The defense was porous, the offense had just nine shots halfway through the game, and both goaltenders allowed three goals. Nothing went right for this team at all tonight, and that is clearly shown on the scoreboard which reads 6-0.
The fun all began with a rebound goal by former Ranger Blair Betts 54 seconds into the tilt. It was Marian Gaborik who should have taken the stick off Betts out of the play, but for the third time this season (yes, I am counting) he was unable to do just that, leading to Blair's fourth goal of the season. Danny Briere followed that up with a tally ten minutes later, as he was given all of the time and room he needed to freeze Lundqvist and beat him low to make it 2-0 Flyers. To cap-off the third period, Claude Giroux sent a low wrister past Lundqvist, igniting a John Tortorella timeout. Much like in the game against the Devils back in October, Torts went on a rant, yelling and screaming into his players' faces. However, this time around it was to no avail as it did not change one thing about the way the game was being played.
Henrik Lundqvist was removed from the game, leaving rookie goaltender Chad Johnson to make his NHL debut on very short notice. 23 seconds into Johnson's career, Simon Gagne sent a sharp angle shot into the back of the net, giving the Flyers a 4-0 lead right out of the gate. After about twelve minutes of defensive mistakes, missed opportunities, and powerless powerplays, the Blueshirts were burned yet again when Gagne netted his second of the game with a 5 on 3 man advantage goal. On this particular play, Johnson made at least three consecutive saves, but the defense in front of him gave him absolutely no help, and eventually Gagne was found for the tap-in.
The third period just had no action or no life to it, really from either team. It was just laid back defensive hockey by the Flyers with the Rangers constantly turning the puck over when entering the offensive zone. With just under eight minutes remaining in the tilt, Gagne recorded his first hat-trick since 2005 when Philadelphia was allowed to walk in and make a pretty play. The story of the night for the Rangers.
Continue Reading After the Jump>>I will start my rant with discussing head coach John Tortorella. His team was flat to start the game, so he went with plan A; timeout. You could see the anger in his face which was beat red, but it had not one ounce of an impact on the players. They did not respond, so on to plan B; pull the goalie. Thinking the team would pick themselves up after seeing their starter put on the bench and a first-time rookie in net, Tortorella's brilliant ideas failed him yet again. No response from the boys in blue, leaving the steaming head coach with nothing to do but jumble the lines. Torts had no clue as to where to go from there, so all he did was shake up the lineup and wait for the final buzzer. He even admitted to it in his postgame conference, "I have no answer". He may not realize it, but that sure answers a lot of our questions.
This loss comes because of not only a lack of execution, but a lack of effort as well. When a team is missing both of those and does not have either or, the result is not a pretty one more often than not. Well, here you go, a perfect example with this debacle.
As I predicted on the blog yesterday, Chris Higgins did not last more than two periods on the first line with Marian Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky. Like I had suggested, Tortorella put Avery on that line and at least there was a bit of a spark. However, still no goals, still no conversion. Same story, different night. It is getting tiresome when watching this team not able to produce offense, and I do not know at what point GM Glen Sather will become the least bit alarmed.
When Marian Gaborik has a terrible game, you would have to assume as did the team. That was the case tonight. Sure, Gabs has been fantastic for this team this season, but he did not play well in the contest. He barely had the puck, he was turning it over at the blueline, and just was not himself. Do not get me wrong, it is not solely his fault, but I am just making it a point that when Gabs is off, so are the Rangers.
Rookie Chad Johnson had a nice welcoming into the league with the first shot against going in, but after that he settled in and made some key saves. I was pretty impressed with his effort, as Chad played well for a rookie entering a blowout such as this one.
New York will be back at it again tomorrow against the Carolina Hurricanes in Carolina. Now I would like to say something of importance here. It seems like whenever this team is blown out, they always bounce back with a solid effort and everything is good and well yet again. No, that should not be the mentality here. We are at about the midway point here, and this team has already had several games in which they looked like they did not care. They need a hell of a lot more than just one single win if they want to redeem themselves.
[Note by Jim Schmiedeberg, 12/31/09 12:03 PM EST Here are the quotes from last night's post game]
John Tortorella on going forward
We start over. That is the best thing for us right now is to get on a plane and play. Some things, obviously, there has to be some discussion on certain situations but we have to start over. We have to start over. The best thing for us is to play right away.
Henrik Lundqvist on tonights game
We were into a really nice rhythm before the break. The last two games, I think, our energy was okay but not tonight. In our zone, we have to be ready to battle. We just made it way too easy.
Marian Gaborik on tonights game
We werent ready. They got three quick goals and then nothing was working out for us. It is obviously unacceptable. The positive thing is that we play tomorrow. We need to redeem ourselves.