Rangers Vs. Panthers: Nope

Joel Auerbach

Notes from the Rangers loss to the Panthers.

- I had a feeling the game was going to go that way when the Florida Panthers took a 1-0 lead. And the Rangers -- while the offense had chances -- just never got into gear. It sucks. No way around it, the Rangers need to win that game. And if the Rangers don't make the playoffs, well, the points they gave up to the Panthers all season are a big reason why.

- Some good news? The Rangers got help from Washington. The Capitals beat the Winnipeg Jets, meaning the Rangers need to win just one more game to clinch a playoff berth. Oh, the Islanders lost, too, but in a shootout.

- I'm seeing a ton of people say the two Panthers goals were Henrik Lundqvist's fault. I vehemently disagree. Both goals were deflections, both pucks changed direction at the last second. You can't blame Hank for either of those, especially not the second. He also made some pretty brilliant saves to keep the Rangers in the game when things were 1-0.

- And once again the power play killed the Rangers. It's been so much better since the trade deadline, but man was it bad last night. And with the man advantage late in the game the Rangers didn't come close to converting.

- Ryan Callahan was bad. Rick Nash was bad. Derek Stepan had his moments but wasn't great. Ryan McDonagh had a rough game. Dan Girardi was OK. Michael Del Zotto was OK but made a critical error on the Panthers first goal. Carl Hagelin was invisible, so was Ryane Clowe. When that many players of that level of importance are off you're probably not winning the game.

- I don't think Brad Richards had a bad game overall, he just had a horrible third period. Yes, the penalty called against him was a joke, but he put himself in a horrible position by leaning into the Panther in an attempt to get to the puck. And the Rangers had men back. That penalty gets called 90% of the time, even though it's not a penalty. Richards needs to know better. He also passed up two scoring chances on the Rangers late power play and tried to pas through traffic instead. It was a rough 20 minutes.

- Here is why you don't play Chris Kreider on the fourth line, or at least a prime example of why he's wasting away there. Midway through the second period the Rangers were breaking out of their own zone. Kreider blew past the two defenders and was wide open along the boards with the nearest defender four feet away from him. Darroll Powe either never saw him or wasn't confident enough to feed him the puck (for what would have been a breakaway or a semi-breakaway) and instead lugged the puck into the zone himself and turned it over. That's a waste. Kreider played under four minutes. That's a waste, too. The Rangers couldn't score last night, you really think Kreider couldn't help in that department? Come on.

- Bright side? John Moore looks legit. And his work on the power play is actually really, really competent. He shoots when he has a lane, passes when he needs to and is so quick he can jump down the defense's throat before they even realize it. All those points go for his even strength play, too. He has a heavy shot as well, and earned another assist by doing the right thing: Putting the puck on the net.

- Derick Brassard scored a pretty goal too little too late. I thought he was pretty good in the game, but obviously didn't finish until there was 30 seconds left.

- I can't help but wonder how much different things would be right now with Marc Staal and Derek Dorsett.

- I don't question John Tortorella pulling the goaltender late in the game with the power play. You make that move if you want to win the game. Yes, it backfired but the Rangers also didn't do that great of a job forcing the puck down low to make sure the Panthers couldn't fire at the empty net.

- I understand the frustration about the loss, I do. But the Rangers simply need to win one more game to make the playoffs. This team has been so much better since the trade deadline it's hard to fathom. Games like this happen. They shouldn't happen to a team like the Panthers, but hey, that's hockey. Whatever, get mad, get over it and move on.

- I still don't think anyone WANTS to play the Rangers in the playoffs. I'm sure the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Boston Bruins are confident they can beat them but I doubt of the three bottom teams the Rangers are high on their list.

Breath. Relax. Thoughts?

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