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Rangers Vs. Predators: The Right Thing To Do

Notes from the Rangers loss to the Predators.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

- The headline is the quote Alain Vigneault gave when asked about making Emerson Etem and Dylan McIlrath healthy scratches despite the duo stringing together a few games (or a few weeks in McIlrath's case) of solid play. Vigneault is the master of the gut feeling answers and no one questions him on it. So was it the right thing to do?

- The Rangers got their teeth kicked in in possession to the tune of 58-37. Ho hum. Scoring chances were 30-23, too. Normal. The two players that Vigneault played over McIlrath (Dan Girardi and Marc Staal) lived up to the (expected) expectations. Girardi was actually even in possession at 5v5 and had an assist. But he was -2 in scoring chances, turned the puck over and completely lost his man on the first power play goal and was a -3 in shots and -3 in scoring chances in that horrid third period. Staal, on the other hand, was a -6 in shot differential, a -2 in scoring chances and was on the ice for three goals against. That included the Predators fifth goal where Staal abandoned his post on the right side of the net, skated right behind his defensive partner (who was covering someone) and left James Neal all alone with a gaping net in the slot. Horrible. Been that way all year.

- The player that played over Emerson Etem (Tanner Glass) was a -16 in possession and -7 in scoring chances. Considering how well Etem played against Anaheim I wish I could tell you I was shocked he was sitting but we've been down this road before. Remember, Glass took Etem's spot after one game. McIlrath strings together a month of good play and can't get into the lineup over Girardi and Staal. So, yeah, double standards and all that.

- Here's why I hate people who heap the blame on Henrik Lundqvist. When this game was 0-0, 1-0, 1-1 and 2-1 Lundqvist made a series of stops to keep things close. When he makes that toe save in the second period none of those people said anything. It was only after the dam finally burst (when you're being out-shot 58-37 eventually that's going to happen) and the Rangers two big-money defenseman failed to do their job that the wheels fell off. Which, of course, becomes Lundqvist's fault because he's the easiest guy to blame when a team gives up five goals. I guess.

- Rick Nash had a great game. People complain because he doesn't finish -- which is their right -- but you need to look big picture. Nash had some prime chances he couldn't finish, crashed the net multiple times and had a team high nine shot attempts. When he scored a goal to get the mini-comeback started and people laugh and go "oh NOW Nash scores." If you think that you are a crab person.

- You want some positives? Chris Kreider has seven points in the last 10 games. J.T. Miller has six points in his last seven games. They might be coming around. Kevin Hayes -- for as rough a time he's having with the puck -- was one of the few positive possession players last night and had a few Grade-A chances. He also 100% mailed it in on the first Neal goal in terms of a backcheck, for what it's worth.

- There are a lot of people in the media who are calling this a slump. This is not a slump. Slumps are unsustainable. Nash shooting 3% on the year is a slump. Lundqvist's .944 SV% is a "slump" (just in the other direction). Neither of those things are going to last (and didn't). The Rangers current style of play is the same thing they've been doing all year. The only reason they stopped winning is because Lundqvist's SV% dropped (as expected) and the Rangers SH% dropped (as expected).

- And let's just call a spade a space here: This team is not a Stanley Cup contender. I'm not sure what the answer is at this point. I'm not sure if it isn't to try and blow things up because they can't fix their own problems. Glen Sather's legacy is going to be his horrible contracts suffocating this team's flexibility and Jeff Gorton's ability to fix things. The Girardi and Staal anchor contracts are the primary reason the Rangers are currently slated to A) not be able to keep Keith Yandle, B) not be able to fix this season, C) the biggest reasons for the team's struggles.

- When 90% of the team isn't living up to expectations who do you blame?