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Rangers Vs. Capitals: Questions Without Answers

Notes from the Rangers loss to the Capitals.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

- At 11 a.m. this morning there is going to be a story on Alain Vigneault and his questionable decisions this year (and maybe since he arrived on Broadway). There are -- and should be -- a lot of questions about last night's coaching decisions, but it would be very redundant and I'd like to avoid that. So most of this article will be devoid of Vigneault notes, but that doesn't mean he wasn't a big part of what happened and what has been happening.

- I haven't seen a drop off in play that big in a long, long time. At the end of the first period the Rangers were up 3-1 and should have been riding high. The Rangers needed a period like that (especially a first period) so, so badly. And against a team as good as Washington? Yeah, that should have felt good.

- So what, exactly, happened in the second period? It's not like the Rangers lucked their way into those three goals, the Rangers genuinely outplayed the Capitals for 20 minutes. Dominated them in fact. In the first period Alex Ovechkin didn't register a shot on goal and when he was on the ice the Capitals were a -8 in shot differential. Those are enormous figures against one of the better players in this league. So how does THAT turn into THAT?

- Part of it is usage, again. Keith Yandle can't see prime power play time if he needed it to survive. So Vigneault uses Ryan McDonagh for the first 90 seconds of a power play and gives Yandle the scraps. That's stupid for two reasons:

1) Yandle needs to be playing prime minutes because he's the best offensive defenseman on this team and it's not even close. He should be playing two minutes of every power play. It's better with him on it, period.

2) Thanks to McDonagh playing 90 seconds of every power play, he's too tired to kill penalties. So who does Vigneault have to lean on? Chris Summers, who predictably is completely over matched and is a critical part of a killer goal against on the penalty kill.

That is bad coaching. I'm sorry. It just is.

- So is playing Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes with Tanner Glass. You need Zuccarello and Hayes to get going, and that's not the way to do it. Putting Glass on the power play? Come on.

- First Capitals goal looks like it's being blamed on Hayes, but that's a mistake. Glass loses his man so Emerson Etem covers for him, then Hayes has to cover Etem's man because he moved up to cover for Glass. Which means it really is Glass' mistake even if it's not his guy who scores the goal there. That's why matchups are so important.

- J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider had themselves a huge first period; which is big for the Rangers because they need both of them to really pick things up in terms of production. It feels like a wasted effort because of the loss, of course, but it might get them going individually.

- I really think Miller has the makings of a more skilled Ryan Callahan type player.

- Etem had another fantastic game. I'm shocked he's been sat at all to this point but I fear it won't be the last time something like that happens.

- At this point I don't have much more to say about that game. The Rangers are stuck with this lineup for a bit because the NHL roster freeze is in effect so things aren't going to get much better quickly.