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Rangers Vs. Panthers: Losing Two Ways

Florida Panthers v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
  • I went to sleep right after the game ended Sunday night, not in the mood to argue on Twitter or figure out whatever happened to Mika Zibanejad. He’s out 6-8 weeks per Alain Vingeault, which is honestly way better than I thought it was going to be. Derek Stepan had a similar injury two years ago and returned six weeks later. I would have signed up for this after seeing the replay. I figured ACL or blown-out knee for sure.
  • Outside of ZIbanejad, the Rangers also lost the actual game. It marks the ninth game in 10 where the Rangers have been out-possessed by their opponent. The first half of that was littered with blowout wins so you can excuse some of it, but the Rangers are trending downwards in a lot of key categories.
  • Now, that’s not totally unexpected. The Rangers goal scoring and shooting percentage were always going to fall back down to earth a bit, but we have seen their scoring chance generation and expected goals fall as well. Since Canada, the Rangers have looked a lot more like last year’s team than October’s Rangers. That’s a big problem.
  • Part of that has been the Rangers inability to move the puck seamlessly from their own zone to the offense. Columbus was the first team to really clog the neutral zone to stop those back passes the Rangers do on the power play, and they were able to slow the Rangers offense down enough so that they had to dump and chase. Without a successful power play, the Rangers had no answer.
  • Florida did similar things, although they did a great job of possessing the puck themselves. When the Rangers’ offense needs help generating transition the Rangers have two answers: Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei. When they don’t have the answer then breakouts die on the vine.
  • Dan Girardi has really regressed back to last year’s form. I’ve tried to stay away from this as much as I can, but enough is enough. Last night he was dead last on both sides with a 23% corsi and a -14 in shots. McDonagh was just in front of him with a 25% corsi for. Girardi was at the bottom of defenseman in expected goals for and expected goals percentage. Get him off the top pair, please. Give this defense some chance to generate offense.
  • Good news? Nick Holden is trending in the right direction from the start of the year. Not OK news? Kevin Klein is struggling visibly.
  • The Rangers power play let them down a bit as well. They looked great, moved the puck really well but never pulled the trigger. Kevin Hayes in particular had a few golden chances he passed up that I thought should have been easy shot opportunities.
  • Speaking of the power play, I’m 99% sure Florida is cheating. Keith Yandle was used on the top power play line and was given top line minutes. I was nearly positive that wasn’t allowed based on his time in New York.
  • The Rangers have had a very nasty habit of losing games this year when they’re not blowing out their opponent. Close games with low goal totals aren’t going the Rangers way, and it supports the claim that this offense is carrying a lackluster defense more than we think. When the Rangers aren’t scoring a ton of goals they see a big drop in possession metrics — something we discussed on the Podcast last week. Some of the signs are encouraging, but it is a little alarming the Rangers can’t find themselves when other teams shut off the offensive transition lanes. And it’s only going to get harder without Zibanejad in the lineup.
  • Thoughts?
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