The Rangers wrapped their Magical Mystery Tour of exhibition games against European teams by facing off with EV Zug in Switzerland, playing their 4th game in 5 nights.
The Rangers came out slow in the first period, maybe the combination of travel, short time between games and little rest caught up to the Rangers as it looked like Zug was flying up and down the ice all period and capitalized three times, once on the power play off a nice one timer. The second goal was a shot that Marty Biron should have stopped but he let trickle between his blocker and glove and into the back of the net.
The Rangers got one back in between Zug goals as Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan put together a solid forecheck and allowed Callahan to cash in a rebound goal against former Ranger "great" Jussi Markkanen. This, however, did not slow down Zug as Josh Holdens made a fantastic move shorthanded on Brad Richards and deposited the puck over Biron's shoulder for his first of the game.
Late in the first the Rangers really got on their horse as they scored two late 1st period goals from a deflection off of Mike Rupp and a great singular effort from Artem Anisimov to tie the game at 3. The two goals came 41 seconds apart from each other.
The second period started with Brandon Dubinsky skating with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik and the trio had a solid opening shift but it did not result in any scoring. For the most part the second period was a more polished effort for the Rangers but Zug put up two quick goals off a nice passing and deflection play and a missed defensive coverage assignment by Eric Christensen led to Josh Holdens' second goal of the game.
The Rangers added a goal late in the second to pull within one as Artem Anisimov made another fine play to the net that allowed Feds to bury the rebound past Markkanen.
The third period is when the wheels seemed to fall off as Zug scored two goals early on thanks in large part to poor defensive play first by the Stu Bickel- Brendan Bell pairing as they allowed the Zug forward to get behind them and breakaway for the goal going five hole on Marty Biron. The second goal came off of a bad pinch by Michael Del Zotto and Steve Eminger getting turned around in his own zone.
The Rangers then began to assert some offensive pressure but could not get any shots on goal and when they did it was from the outside and low percentage scoring areas.
With less than five minutes to play John Tortorella pulled Marty Biron which led to the final nail in the coffin and the eighth Zug goal an empty netter.
After the jump: Highlights, The Good, Bad and The Ugly and some closing preseason thoughts
Artem Anisimov: Had a very strong game scoring a late goal in the first and setting up Fedotenko for the team's fourth of the game. Artie has skated strongly all preseason and is really starting to put his game together skating with Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky
Brad Richards: While he did get his jock strap handed to him by Josh Holdens on Zug's short handed goal; Richards had a strong offensive game skating with Gaborik and while the duo did not put up any points I was impressed by how the two skated with both Ruslan Fedotenko in the first period and Brandon Dubinsky in the second. In the third Tortorella kept Dubinsky with Richards and Gaborik and the top line kept up pressure on Zug and came close to beating Markkanen a number of times
Ruslan Fedotenko: Starting the game skating with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik had a spot light on Ruslan Fedotenko and he didn't shy away as he was one of the better Ranger forwards all game long and he was rewarded with his efforts with a goal late in the second period crashing the net and depositing Artem Anisimov's errant rebound
Marty Biron: Starting in his second European game on this trip (the first was a shut out against HC Sparta in the Czech Republic), Marty made a strong case for keeping Henrik Lundqvist as the starting goalie. The first goal he gave up was on a power play one timer that Biron had no chance of stopping but the second goal of the first period was one that Marty should have stopped; he was upright and tried to trap the puck under his glove and on top of his blocker but it didn't work as the puck bounced out and behind the goalie into the back of the net. The rest of the game Marty looked shaky, like he didn't really have confidence in his game after that second goal. I'm sure he'll be fine once the season starts.
Eric Christensen: What's left to say about Eric Christensen? With Sean Avery serving as the healthy scratch this could have been the perfect game for him to make his case as the 13th roster. Instead he blows his defensive coverage and leaves Josh Holdens wide open to score Zug's fifth goal of the game. Besides from that EC was usual invisible self and while he may have had a couple of good shots he vanished soon afterwards. I think it's time to say goodbye to Eric Christensen.
The entire defense aside from the Girardi/McDonagh pair: Oh my was this a bad game for the Rangers defense as they constantly let Zug skate around them and enter the offensive zone and get consistent shots to the net. The biggest blunders, (of many) were committed by the pairing of Stu Bickel and Branden Bell as they allowed Zug to break away from the two of them and score five hole on Biron. Overall, watching this game has Ranger fans chewing down their cuticles waiting anxiously for Marc Staal and Michael Sauer to come back healthy
Yes, this game was a disaster by the Rangers and they should be embarrassed by their defensive efforts and Torts is probably ripping them all a new one right now. But, there a few outlying factors for the team looking as slow as they did. The Rangers just finished a grueling schedule which saw them play 4 games in 5 nights in 3 different countries, and no matter how conditioned a team is that still puts a strain on the body and this team needs a day to relax and recharge before they open the season Friday in Stockholm against the Los Angeles Kings. Fans need to breathe a bit as it is the end of the preseason and the team is running on empty, I truly believe that they need a day or two to rest and that they will be fine.