- I will repeat what I tweeted right after the Senators put the game away with their empty net goal:
You can make valid excuses about this loss but main point is NYR lost to a bad team. This team still needs help to truly contend. Period— Joe Fortunato (@BlueshirtBanter) January 24, 2016
The valid excuse would be the snowstorm disrupting the Rangers travel schedule, forcing them to alter their plans and not skating that AM (although this has become a staple of Alain Vigneault, it should be noted) and probably being exhausted from the rushed trip. Still, the team had no jump and it was enough to piss Vigneault off until he walked out of the media press conference.
- I'm sure everyone (even the brass) is aware there are problems that need to be fixed with this team. The solutions, however, are where things are going to be scary. This is a team that just brought in an AHL player to fix a problem they could have fixed on their own (more on Mr. Paille in a few), consulted their biggest problem before they did it and will most likely play him at the expense of Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes or any other kid once everyone is healthy again. If it doesn't scare you then you haven't been paying enough attention.
- The re-constructed fourth line that's supposed to be the savior of the team's struggles was in full display last night. Paille was a -14 in shot differential (worst on the team), Dominic Moore was a -12 and Tanner Glass was a -11. That line continued to see prime minutes even in the third period with the Rangers down by two. That's bad coaching, not much you can argue there.
- With Paille on the ice the Rangers generated five shots and gave up 19. That's not exactly someone who is going to bring "grit and a veteran presence" to the fourth line. Both Glass and Moore generated seven shots for with 19 again. That's putrid.
- And as for Paille's penalty killing abilities -- give him some slack that it's a new team/system -- he looked lost when on the penalty kill and missed a few easy covers. Again, give him the benefit of the doubt for now, but I'm not sure a guy who has only seen AHL action this year and all 30 teams passed on this summer is going to rebound into something the Rangers can rely on.
- They're not the only people to blame though. The first goal is 100% on Derick Brassard. He knows Ryan McDonagh is in deep, knows Kevin Klein is the only guy back and knows there are two Senators in front of Klein. So what can't he do? He can't pass the puck back to Klein. What should he not do under any circumstances? Make a bad pass back to Klein. What does he do? Bad pass back to Klein, who can't handle it, has to get back to cover and eventually the Senators score. When your best player make bad mistakes like that they almost always end up in the back of the net. Brassard has to be smarter.
- The power play generated a few good chances (with Keith Yandle at the point with the first unit, who would have thought?) but ultimately didn't covert. That's becoming something of a problem, but the Rangers haven't changed their system there at all and keep throwing the same guys out there (except for Yandle).
- J.T. Miller led the Rangers in shot differential with +5. He's blossoming before our eyes, here. I thought he was one of the few players to have a really good game.
- After the game Henrik Lundqvist answered a question with a little attitude.
Henrik Lundqvist in a telling comment says he takes care of his own preparation, have to ask other players about theirs.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) January 24, 2016
To be honest, I'm shocked Lundqvist hasn't lost his cool in his career (the above doesn't count). The Rangers have hung him out to dry in a plethora of different ways over the years, and wasting one of his prime years thanks to horrible asset management can't sit well with him. This team could use a Lundqvist call out, if we're being honest. Might wake the right people up (and I'm not talking about players).
- Vigneault can stomp his feet after a game like that all he wants. He can throw fits about how there's "not enough effort" and how the team isn't performing. He can walk out of press conferences and at least try to give the fans a little bit of that "I'm angry and things need to change" act that Tortorella has trademarked. The reality of the situation, however, is this mess has his fingerprints all over it. These are his lineup choices, his blind-eye accountability and his playtime/player role allocations. Things haven't been working the way they're supposed to be for months. These are his band-aids and they're bleeding through and he doesn't have answers. He can and should be pissed at the way things are going, but this is on him as well. The sooner he realizes that the better.