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Rangers Vs. Islanders: Who Isn’t Hurt?

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New York Rangers v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
  • The only true positive to losing to the Islanders is that it creates such venom within the fanbase it might actually wake some people up. The Rangers weren't even particularly bad last night. They were down two forwards and Halak played out of his mind. That's most of the story right there.
  • Now, when I say wake up above I'm including everyone here. Jeff Gorton, Alain Vigneaut (this is more of a prayer), the media and maybe even crab people. So what do I wake up to? A story in The Post about how the Rangers might be in deep trouble if Rick Nash is hurt long term (true) and that Henrik Lundqvist isn't his usual all-world self (this fills me with the rage of a thousand suns). Longer story on this, of course, but if you can see it fit to blame Hank while giving yet another series of free passes to Dan Girardi you're either writing click bait or your analysis is incredibly flawed. (Listen to the podcast tonight for what should be a pretty spectacular rant about this tonight.)
  • The real concern here is Nash’s status. He didn’t return after taking a cross check to the lower back, and him being out would be an enormous blow. When we talk about the losses of Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich being a big deal, it’s not just because of their offense but their three-zone play. Nash is a three-zone monster, and all three being out puts even more pressure on a defense that already can’t handle things in the best of times. That’s scary.
  • What’s also scary is this seems like the perfect recipe for Alain Vigneault to get Tanner Glass back into the lineup, especially if Nash or Matt Puempel hits IR. This might be me just adding fuel to the fire — there’s no evidence of this being on the table outside of me thinking I’ve seen this movie before — but I’m still putting it out there.
  • Jimmy Vesey seems like he might be getting hot again, which is what the Rangers desperately need with all this offense out.
  • I like Brandon Pirri a lot, and think he does a lot of really good things for this team. But if he doesn’t start hitting the net his value diminishes. What’s worse: He passed up a slew of quality shot attempts to look for the perfect shot or pass. It’s a problem this entire team has.
  • On the power play the Rangers had Nick Holden at the point (I have a longer thought on this so it’s relegated to the next paragraph) and with the Rangers down two with the extra attacker they had Dan Girardi on the point. I mean, that’s about as unforgivable as it is. Run six forwards if you don’t want McDonagh out there, you literally have nothing to lose. It’s either total blindness by Vigneault or poor coaching. These might be one in the same.
  • As for Holden, he’s shown flashed of offense he showed once in his career. I don’t totally mind him on the power play because he actually shoots the puck, but he’s not exactly the guy you want out there, and it’s clear Ryan McDonagh is being leaned on for everything and is going to wear down. Clendening should be rotated in more often for this exact reason and the reason above. Even if you have concerns about his defense (which at this point is unfounded) you have to at least acknowledge that he should be in the lineup for transition/power play needs.
  • I think the final three minutes of the game say a lot about this team right now. First, the Rangers pull the goalie for a 6-on-5 advantage, draw a power play and then allow nearly a minute to pass without giving up the puck (and taking a 6-on-4). That’s not just bad situational awareness, it’s horrible for everyone. To make matters worse, the Rangers had a 6-on-3 for 30 seconds and passed the puck back and forth and generated two shots. Down two goals. That’s even worse situational awareness. Blame the players and the coach, everyone needs to be smarter there. Everyone.
  • I’m not really going to touch the Henrik Lundqvist stuff too much. He seems to be an easy target for the crabs, and that frustrates me. Has he been all world? No. Should he have to be to win games? No. Is he blamed when he isn’t? Yup.
  • Thoughts?