While the Rangers were flying high during their 7 game-winning streak, a trend developed that had Ranger fans scratching their heads:
Why are the Rangers playing so poorly in the second periods of games?
There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for it, but it's undeniable; the Rangers have been awful in second periods for almost every game this season. It first seemed like an odd anomaly, but it has now become the norm, with the worst effort in the middle period coming last night against the Sharks, who scored three times in the second, and sent Stephen Valiquette to the showers.
If it was the first period, you could chalk it up to them being slow starters. If it was the third period, you could raise questions about their conditioning. But the poor play in the second period is difficult to explain.
Could it be complacency? The Rangers have been fortunate enough to be in command in most of their games heading into the second period, and perhaps they are just taking their foot off the gas. The fact that they have been playing so well in the third period could lend this theory some credence.
Maybe its part of the growing process of this team, and learning to play 60 minutes of hockey every night. If this is the case, and the trend continues, I would expect players to spend some time on the pine if they are continually taking shifts off in the second period.
More after the jump.......
Final thoughts on last night:
- As I stated before, I don't have a problem with playing Stephen Valiquette last night. If you can't trust him to play against top teams in the league, why have him on the roster? That being said, I thought Vally was just awful last night, giving up rebounds so fat they wouldn't fit into my pants.
- Valiquette has faced 18 shots in both games he has started. In one he stopped them all, and in the other he misses 5 of them. His save pct. went from 1.00 to .861, ouch.
- Donald Brashear was completely ineffective last night against the Sharks. He looked slow to the puck all night, and made several mistakes. I'm pretty sure if Brashear and a pregnant lady raced on skates, he would come in third.
- On the plus side, for one night our goalies didn't get run over. Maybe all those red lights flashing behind the net were distracting the Sharks.
- Ryan Callahan brings it on every shift, up by three, or down by three. That's why he is a leader on this team, despite being only 24, and will someday wear the "C" for the Rangers. The goals will come soon enough.
- I hate to say it, but Christopher Higgins might have to sit a game, get his head clear. He is pressing right now.
- Sean Avery had two assists and two dumb penalties. Unfortunately its a two-sided look at what Avery can be, and what he can't seem to stop being all in one game.
- Tough night for Wade Redden too, but I can't get on him too much, because he's been fairly solid most of the season.
- It will be interesting to see how the Rangers rebound against the Devils Thursday night after playing their first complete stinker of the season. I love a good "Rocky" movie quote, and this is one of my favorites, from "Rocky Balboa": "It ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done". I have every reason to believe this team will rebound and play well. By the way, Rocky Balboa is the only Philly athlete I've ever rooted for.
- Giants blown out in New Orleans, Jets lose a terrible game in overtime, Yankees lose in extra innings, and the Rangers get their hats handed to them at MSG. A tough 36 hours for NY Sports.