So, after last night's loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the Rangers start their December 0-2-0 and have a home game against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins coming up on Monday. After that they go on the road to play the Vancouver Canucks who have risen from the ashes this year after parting ways with the charming John Tortorella, starting a four game road trip. The Rangers' next two games are not going to be any easier than their last two games. It's time for this team to dig deep and find a way to get some points after a lackluster October and November. Here are some thoughts on the Rangers and last night's loss to the Red Wings.
- Kevin Klein now has 5 goals, which is a career high for him and we're still in the first week of December. Klein's 5 goals is 2 more than the rest of the Rangers' defense combined which is nice and all, but it really speaks to how much the Rangers have missed Dan Boyle and Ryan McDonagh, their two best puck-moving defensemen, when they were out of the lineup. This blue line group doesn't exactly have a 15 goal guy on it, but the Rangers need some offense generated from the point, especially on the man advantage and during shifts with extended possession.
- I thought Talbot had a very strong game. He is excellent at protecting the bottom half of the net and had a few big pad saves against Detroit early in the game. It's a tough pill for Cam to swallow to allow 3 goals after recording two consecutive shutouts, but Detroit's best scoring chances came off of huge defensive lapses by the Rangers. It doesn't matter who's on the ice, you just can't lose track of people going to the net and the Rangers forwards and blueliners did that more than enough times to get burned for a few goals. Talbot stopped 31/34 against the Red Wings last night.
- I wrote about it a few days ago but I really think it's time to send a message to Chris Kreider and move him around in the lineup. Scratching him isn't the best option, although it might mean seeing some more of Anthony Duclair. Kreider needs some time out of the Rangers' top six until he starts showing more than just size and speed. Right now the fault in Kreider's game resides primarily in what is going on between his ears. He is leading the team in penalty minutes and he had a very poor back-checking play that lead to Detroit's first goal last nigh, a goal that changed the complexion of the game. It's time to let Kreider skate with Kevin Hayes and see what the two big bodies from BC can do together against weak competition and it's time to take some of Kreider's ice time away until he starts earning shifts with players like Marty St. Louis.
- I'm not sure what to say about the Rangers' power play that hasn't already been said on twitter and on Blueshirt Banter by you guys, but man was that tough to watch. It's easy to forgive Derick Brassard hitting the iron twice but it's impossible to forgive the amount of failed zone entries the Rangers had, particularly their two 5 on 3 opportunities. When the Rangers do get the puck in and start moving it around, the recklessly unselfish passing and dubious shot selection are enough to make a grown man cry. This is all still Mike Sullivan's fault, right? Right? It really, really needs to be better than it was against the Red Wings. I don't care how good Detroit is at killing penalties, you have to get a goal on that extended man advantage, you just have to.
- Rick Nash now has 17 goals. At this point he could put a puck into our own net and I'd have nothing bad to say about him. Nash is a big name player that is more than living up to his billing this season when the Rangers need it the most. Just give him the puck and send him at the net.
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- Is it time to start being concerned about Mats Zuccarello's slow start to the season? I thought he looked fine last night and liked some of his passes, but it feels like Zuke just isn't playing as feisty and as daring as he normally plays. This is, of course, a contract year for the Norwegian winger and he might still be searching for chemistry with some of the new linemates he is seeing. Hopefully Zuke kicks it into gear soon here because the Rangers are desperate for some depth scoring and offense coming from the sticks of players not named Nash, St. Louis, Stepan, or Brassard. It just feels like he isn't creating as much magic as we saw last year when he seemingly carried the Rangers' offense for a stretch of the season.
- I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about veteran defenseman Dan Boyle. I really like the way he looks on the Rangers' power play (when he isn't turning the puck over in the neutral zone or failing to gain the zone) but it doesn't seem that he is actually... doing anything. Perhaps he too needs some more time with his new teammates and in the new system to really become an impact player for the Rangers, but he was brought into New York for one reason and thus far I just haven't seen enough magic from him on the man advantage to feel great about the signing. Granted, Boyle has had some atrocious luck with staying healthy this year so we should cut him some slack.
- The Rangers are finding ways to lose games right now and last night's loss was the best example in a long time. Having a 2-0 lead after the first period on the road against a team like Detroit is absolutely huge and the Rangers let it slip away. They let it slip away with poor defensive coverage, atrocious effort on the man advantage, and allowing two Red Wings goals in 61 seconds early in the second period. I hope that someone on the Rangers' coaching staff breaks a dry erase board over his knee like Bo Jackson and starts asking why its so hard to play your position in the defensive zone, because right now it appears like the Rangers just aren't thinking enough in their own zone.
The Rangers have two tough games on Monday and Saturday (we have to wait that long again?) and they are going to have to elevate their game if they want to stop this from turning into a losing streak. It's time to sit the group down, watch some game film, and point out how bad of an idea it is to leave opponents unchecked in the offensive zone around the net. Apparently, you allow quite a few goals that way.
Let's go Rangers.