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Rangers Vs. Islanders: Trust The Process

Notes from the Rangers loss to the Islanders.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

- Back in the beginning of the year when the Rangers were stringing together wins like they were going out of style and doing it with poor play and fantastic luck I was adamant it would not last. That theory works both ways, though. Last night the Rangers played a great game. They finished ahead in shot attempts (54-44), scoring chances (29-22) and high-danger chances (14-9). They got a little unlucky, missed a few in-close finishes and ended up allowing a three minute series of unfortunate events to sink the ship. It happens.

- The problem is, usually losses like that make Alain Vigneault go back to the drawing board and re-work things. That doesn't have to happen after a loss like that, especially when the Rangers were clearly the better team. I mean, I would absolutely find a way to get Oscar Lindberg back in the lineup (be it for Tanner Glass or Jayson Megna), but that's about the only lineup change I would have.

- I would make a few cosmetic changes, though. Get Megna out of the top-six and revoke whatever unlimited rights he currently has to the top power play unit. J.T. Miller -- who has been arguably the Rangers best forward the past few weeks -- needs to be getting those reps. Miller is a better player and a more skilled forward. When the Rangers are desperately looking for a goal who would you rather have on the ice in crunch time: Megna or Miller? Yeah, me too. Use the better player.

- Those defensive lines are exactly how I would keep things for the rest of the year (unrealistic I know). Ryan McDonagh (+5) and Kevin Klein (+16) make a great top pairing. At even strength when Klein was on the ice the Rangers had 25 shot attempts compared to the Islanders nine. That's an enormous difference and the mark of a true first paring guy (related: I am an idiot for thinking Klein was expendable this summer).

- If that wasn't good enough, Dylan McIlrath and Keith Yandle made a great second pairing. Yandle had an amazing game top to bottom and was one of the Rangers best offensive players. He also -- for reasons I don't understand but won't question -- saw real power play time and was on the ice every other shift when the Rangers were gunning for a goal down the stretch. That's how he should be used. Use him like that more often. Also re-sign him.

- I think it's unfortunate that McIlrath took the dumb penalty that ended up giving the Islanders the lead (although I will say that wasn't a penalty when the Islanders did it in the second, but whatever). McIlrath had a great game for the Rangers (even more impressive when you realize he's been sitting for 20+ games) and was easily one of the better defenseman. I truly believe part of that penalty McIlrath took -- along with the two times he tried to drop the gloves -- is because he's being conditioned to think the only reason he's in the lineup is because he needs to be an enforcer. Except he's not an enforcer, he's too good for that. That mentality needs to change.

- Kevin Hayes gets a pretty big weight around his shoulders for that loss. Which is also sad because I thought he was having a great game until that point. He had a brilliant assist on the Marc Staal goal, threw some big hits and was a presence in the offensive zone. And then .. that. Yandle gets some blame for the back pass that ended up turning into the goal, but Hayes can't lose the puck twice there.

- I say this all the time: You win and lose in the NHL on a knife's edge. Giving the Islanders a belief that they're in this game (which is what the first goal did) helped sink the ship.

- Chris Kreider recorded an assist and missed a wide open net. No he doesn't suck. No he's not the devil. When I said he was unlucky people flew to me like flies on garbage to tell me how dumb I am (there's a pattern there, I think). It was unlucky and here's why: ANY NHL player can score from there. Anyone. Glass, John Scott, anyone. To miss from there is unlucky plain and simple. Don't tell me Kreider is a bum who needs to be traded. Selling low on youth is a great way to (continue) mismanage assets.

- So trust the process. That's a fine game for the Rangers. Obligatory note the Islanders were without two of their top four defenseman, but the Rangers dominated like you would expect in that situation. They just didn't win the game. It happens.