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Rangers Vs. Stars: Frantic Finish Too Little Too Late

Notes from the Rangers overtime loss to the Stars.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

- A lot of people (both the players, coaches and the media) cited the Rangers brilliant third period while also talking about the lackluster first 30 minutes of the game. I think that's a perfect place to start these notes. The Rangers were manhandled in the first period, didn't look ready for the game at all and without Cam Talbot would have been losing 3-0. Then in the third period the Rangers became possession monsters, dominated the Stars and won the third period shots battle 20-2 (not a typo). Two completely different teams.

- The Rangers have been a good third period team all year -- getting better and better as the game goes on -- and I really think it's because Alain Vigneault shortens his bench. If Vigneault would just dress the best lineup from the start I don't think it would be as big of an issue. But here we are.

- Proof of my theory: Lee Stempniak played just 5:30 last night (more on this in a minute) and Tanner Glass played just 7:25. I don't believe we can honestly live in a world where Glass plays more than Stempniak but, again, here we are. (P.S: I think Stempniak gets a really raw deal from Vigneault and I can't figure out why.)

- No other forward played less than 13 minutes, with Vigneault finally moving J.T. Miller away from Glass midway through the second. And wouldn't you believe it, he was actually one of the Rangers better players last night. Funny how that happens.

- Kevin Hayes was another really good player for the Rangers. Sets up the Carl Hagelin goal with a picture perfect pass and made plays all night. He was also responsible for the Stars second goal when he made an error in judgement and tried to feed Hagelin with a defenseman blocking the lane. Dallas intercepted the puck and scored off the rush. That's a rookie mistake that he won't keep making. A veteran gets that puck in deep, last night Hayes didn't.

- I will give Vigneault credit, though, that he put Hayes right back on the ice and he finished the game strong. Rookies make mistakes. They'll never learn if they never play. Unfortunately, Vigneault doesn't treat all kids the same in this regard.

- Vigneault talked after the game about how the Rangers din't have enough possession, and that starts with the top line. Derek Stepan, Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis were dreadful the first half of the game and sat the final 10 minutes of the second. The fourth line did, too. The top line got the message, and played really well in the third, but I'm not really an advocate of sitting Nash regardless of how much he's struggling on a particular night. Especially when you need goals.

- This St. Louis slump, boy. Woof.

- And, again, Vigneault talked about how important possession is and will still dress Ta ... actually, you guys know the drill already. Just a quick note that Jesper Fast will miss 2-3 weeks and Vigneault don't plan on calling up a forward, so get ready for more you know who.

- I saw a lot of Cam Talbot hate this weekend and I could not disagree more. I actually thought Talbot was really good against two very good offensive teams. I'd argue that outside of the second goal last night, there wasn't another puck Henrik Lundqvist would have stopped against either Nashville or Dallas. Didn't miss a beat at all.

- The defense actually looked pretty good the final half of the game last night, but the overtime was a disaster. On the game-winning goal Jason Spezza drew three (!) Rangers players to him while Dallas moved the puck around the horn. By the time the Rangers realized what they had done Ales Hemsky had the puck in the slot and ripped the shot past a screened Talbot. That can't happen.

- The power play was pretty bad all night. I know the Rangers scored the tying goal on the power play, but that was more of a gift than anything else. I did, however, think the final man advantage was the best one the Rangers had all night. The problem is the lack of consistency. The power play is either brilliant or it's an abomination. There is no in between. And if Glass wasn't such a problem for this team, I'd be yelling about Dan Girardi being on the point of the power play more often. He just doesn't fit there at all.

- I think last night is actually a really good example of why I think Glass is an important enough problem that I talk about him so much. Last year the Rangers would have hunkered down with their fourth line in the first period where nothing was going right. And more often than not, Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett and Dominic Moore would work the puck from their own defensive zone into the offensive zone. The difference between that and what the Rangers have now is massive. And it is one of the biggest reasons why I'm worried about the Rangers not being able to repeat last year's run.

- That's a really big point for the Rangers, but it's hard not to be disappointed with the result. The Rangers absolutely deserved to tie the game with the third period they had, but the momentum was on their end of the ice and they let Dallas turn the tide with a horrible defensive sequence. It's disappointing, but again, the point is really important.