The Rangers have not really had a loss this season that has given me the urge to completely explode in my postgame analysis. Well, that has changed after they were defeated by the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-1, tonight at Nationwide Arena. They did not play terrible, but once again they blew opportunities and did not show urgency late in the game when down a goal. This is a game they needed to and should have won.
The first period did not have much action at all. I thought the two teams were getting a feel for each other since they don't meet-up too often, so basically they both were playing a hard forechecking game. The Rangers did have the edge in shots, 12-8, though and were the better team. I liked the grit each club brought to the ice, making it clear that neither one of them would stand down to their opponent. Matt Gilroy was very noticeable in the first when joining the offensive rush. Unfortunately he did not find the back of the net, but at the same time was creating odd-man chances.
The second period contained a bit more action as both teams got on the board. First it was the Rangers striking when Ruslan Fedotenko found Marc Staal in the slot for the one-timer powerplay goal. Then the Jackets notched one of their own with the man advantage when Antoine Vermette deflected a R.J. Umberger shot through the legs of Henrik Lundqvist. If not for Steve Mason in net for Columbus, the Rangers definitely would have run away with the game. They controlled the tempo and were getting a lot of shots on goal. Michael Del Zotto also hit the post and Derek Stepan was completely robbed. The Jackets were more than lucky to get out of that period tied.
New York continued to pressure the Jackets in the third period, but were again and again robbed by Mason. Henrik Lundqvist, meanwhile, allowed a horrific goal to Rick Nash when he threw a shot on net from the corner. That is a stop Lundqvist has to make, there is no excuse for leaving the post there. Because of this, I put this loss on Hank. Nash would later score again on the breakaway when Lundqvist was caught out of his net going to the bench for the extra attacker. 3-1 would be your final score in a loss that stings.
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Lundqvist was not as good as Mason tonight, and that is your game right there. This tilt was low scoring and the goalies needed to make big saves at big times to try and help their team to the win. Mason did that, but Lundqvist obviously did not. I know the blame should not be on just one player, but I put most of the blame for this loss on Hank. The game-winner is a goal that must be stopped no matter what and it wasn't.
The Rangers, as a team, did not play a horrible game. They outskated the Blue Jackets in all three periods and definitely had more scoring chances, but Mason shut them down all night long. There could have been a little more effort, however. I felt that the Blueshirts were not very urgent to tie the game late once Lundqvist allowed the winner. That's pathetic - show some heart and at least try. Instead they blow a powerplay and go down without a fight.
So Alexander Frolov complains about ice time and gets his way. Way to go John Tortorella, you are a real tough coach, aren't you? Frolov, by no means, should be out on that powerplay in the third period. He is pushed around in front of the net, all he does is attempt wraparounds when he has the puck and is lifeless out there. But "Mr. Accountability" John Tortorella continues to put him out there anyway. What a joke.
I guess Michael Del Zotto got an "F" on his homework assignment because he continued to turn the puck over on the powerplay tonight. He is not working there, and Stepan does not look very confident on the point with the man advantage either. The powerplay is a complete mess and obviously whatever the coaching staff is trying to do to fix it is not working......at all.
Marian Gaborik is simply not performing as he should be right now. He is not burying his chances and, without a doubt, is not skating as fast as he usually does. I think there is an injury involved here that we do not know about. We won't know about it until it is announced Gaborik is out for another 2-3 weeks later on down the road in crunch time. If the guy is hurt then rest him. It's not like he is doing anything in the lineup anyway.
So after this disaster the Rangers will have the pleasure of hosting the Washington Capitals tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden. Lord help us all.....