- Sometimes it's not about when you lose but who you lose to. Then again, sometimes it is about when you lose. And sometimes it's both. That game was both. The New York Rangers lost to the lowly Edmonton Oilers Thursday night. They play the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. That wasn't the game to lose.
- Then again, if the Rangers do beat the Penguins tonight all is forgotten, really. The Rangers would be 5-1 in the six games leading up to the Olympic break, and would keep some of the momentum they've built up. If they lose? That's a different story, but 4-2 is still nothing to be ashamed of.
- The problem is, things are so close in the East that dropped points like Thursday need to be avoided at all costs. The Flyers are a single game back from second place (where the Rangers currently reside), the Columbus Blue Jackets are two points back (with a game in hand), you can't lose games like that.
- Cam Talbot was really, really good. He was forced to make a lot of good saves throughout the game. The Rangers' had more than a few horrific defensive breakdowns that lead to chances, and most of the time Talbot was there to shut them down. The two he didn't? A fluky bouncing puck that seemed to go over his head and get batted into the back of the net, and an absolute uncontested rip from the slot by a wide open Nail Yakupov. Not good, but also not on Cam Talbot at all.
- On offense I thought the Mats Zuccarello - Derick Brassard - Benoit Pouliot line was the best on the ice. Those three just make things happen, plain and simple. Zuccarello earned the primary assist on Brassard's second goal in as many games (remember Mike telling you about this yesterday?) and Pouliot had the other assist on the tally.
- Pouliot, by the way, would be my choice for best player on the ice who wasn't the goalie. He made things happen in all three zones, played amazing defense and had a few chances.
- The top line? Chris Kreider was really good in the offense zone and pretty lost in the defensive zone. Rick Nash didn't have much going on and neither did Derek Stepan. They need to be better in close games like this. Especially when no one else seems to be able to find any space.
- I though Ryan Callahan played a solid game overall, but he missed the net on three glorious chances to either give the Rangers the lead or tie the game. Personally, I feel like when you factor those misses in Callahan had a bad night, and when you're in a contract situation where you're requesting seven years at over $6.5-million a year, you can't have games like that. I get that it's just one game, but there have been more games where you don't really notice Callahan this year than games like the one he had against the Avalanche. And that's nothing against Callahan, I love him to death, it's just another major factor in this contract debate.
- The defense was OK at times and then bad at times. The Rangers spent a lot of time in their own zone against Edmonton, and a lot of it could have been avoided with smarter decisions with the puck. Too many times it looked like the Rangers were just trying to move the puck quickly rather than actually making the right play, and too many times it backfired on them.
- I will, however, say that Kevin Klein has been a fantastic edition. I called him a "set and forget" defenseman a couple of weeks ago and I stand by that. Kevin "set and forget" Klein put out a lot of fires in the neutral zone. A lot of them. And most of the time they go unnoticed because he stops something before it happens. That's what a good defenseman does.
Thoughts on the loss guys? Not much time to think about it. On to Pittsburgh.