- That game was not a game where the fancy stats did not agree to the eye test. The Wild held the advantage in shot differential (47-31), scoring chances (23-16) and high-danger scoring chances (13-6). Minnesota isn't a bad team, so these numbers aren't particularly alarming since the Rangers came out flat and, well, didn't play all that well.
- But that's the alarming part. The top six? It's been bad for a while, and Mats Zuccarello has been the worst of the bunch. Rick Nash has been the best of the bunch, but that's not really saying all that much. The Rangers top unit, as a whole, either needs to get better together or split up until they figure it out.
- Speaking of the top six, Jesper Fast is not a top six player. You want more defensive responsibility up there? Then move up Oscar Lindberg. If you want to push your chips into the middle of the table on skill and offensive ability (which I would do) then move Etem up there and let Fast be another anchoring force on the fourth line to handle the defensive side of things. But this isn't working. And hasn't been.
- This is going to come off as an excuse but I do believe it. Henrik Lundqvist wasn't sharp (not the excuse) but I really don't think he was at all mentally prepared to play -- since, you know, Antti Raanta was starting -- and he never found his groove (that's the excuse). Lundqvist is a creature of habit, and an extremely focus-driven goaltender that has to go through his routine to be successful and he didn't get a chance to do that. It was Lundqvist's first relief appearance since October of 2013, I think we can cut him a break here.
- Power play? Woof.
- Penalty kill? Woof.
- Penalty shots? Woof. I do think Keith Yandle has to make a better move there, though.
- That was a worse performance from Brady Skjei. It wasn't a disaster (-10 in corsi but only -3 in scoring chances) but he did take a penalty and did try this "I'm going to bring the puck across my crease and see what happens" thing I'd like him to never do again. I still think he was fine since it was his second game.
- Here's the deal with Skjei (and there is a longer story coming on this). Minnesota was not a great game from him, but at his worst (since we can assume he'd only get better from here) he provided what Dan Girardi would bring to the table. The real result from sitting Girardi hasn't been Skjei, it's been Ryan McDonagh playing like the McDonagh of old. His corsi away from Girardi these past two games were 59.1% and he was actually active in the offensive zone a little more. That's the real takeaway right now.
- Etem and McDonagh, by the way, were the only two players with positive shot differentials yesterday, so maybe Etem isn't the worst thing in the world?
- By the way, Sean brought up a good point about Tanner Glass I wanted to note:
This is Tanner Glass 2.0. Played well in every game since returning from Hartford. Better in possession, smarter, using body effectively.— Sean Hartnett (@HartnettHockey) December 18, 2015
Couldn't agree more.
- Rangers go right back at it tonight so there's not much down time. I think that's a good thing, though, so the team can move on quickly. Because to be honest with you, I think the Wild hit 300 posts last night.