- It's a good thing the Rangers won the game Sunday night, otherwise the fanbase would have been up in arms about the horrid officiating, the offense being unable to finish and Jesper Fast becoming so used to scoring on empty nets that he doesn't know what to do with a goalie between the pipes. And I say all that because win or lose last night, the Rangers played a pretty solid game. Sort of boring at times, but they limited the Red Wings, took advantage of their fatigue later in the game and created chances.
- Before we go any further here's what I'll say about the officiating (and I'll limit the scope to just the goal review because the rest of the game was so crazy I don't have enough time to comment on it): I have no idea how a goalie can trip a player while the player is outside the blue paint and be rewarded for anything the trip caused. Apparently during the game the officials told Alain Vigneault that Jimmy Howard was "tight," meaning he didn't extend his stick to cause the trip that eventually turned into Oscar Lindberg's falling skate to hit him in the head. Here's the screen grab from NHL.com from the start of the play:
And here's the next frame:
Yeah, totally no extension there. The crease always moves, right? No way that's Jimmy's blocker and stick. If the NHL is going to continue with these officials reviewing their own calls on the ice then they probably need to start getting some of these right, no?
- The reason why that play was so frustrating: That's one of those games you win or lose on a dumb goal. You know, a goal that goes off a butt or a leg or somehow sneaks in on a fanned shot from the blue line. The Rangers got that goal from Kevin Hayes and then (wrongfully) had it taken away. Give the Ranger credit for digging deep to keep the pressure on -- which they did -- and fight for the next goal.
- And having said that, the game winner was a thing of beauty. First of all, you have to give Chris Kreider a world of credit for backchecking into the crease before he knew the puck had squirted out. Then give Hayes credit for not panicking when he was the guy pressured on the two-on-one and making a perfect pass to Kevin Klein who didn't miss. Pretty, pretty goal all around.
- I thought Henrik Lundqvist and Howard put on a hell of a show. Howard had to work a lot harder than Lundqvist did but both answered the bell when it was their time. As for Howard's 2-on-0 save on Fast -- Derick Brassard has to at least make him think he's going to shoot. Howard guessed pass and was right. When Brassard pulled back on the puck Howard froze; Brassard needs to shoot it right there rather than float it over to Fast. It's still a high-percentage play by Brassard, but he telegraphs his passes far too often.
- And since we're playing the "Joe gives advice about professional hockey to professional hockey player" Fast has to go high on the penalty shot goal. Going blocker-side is fine, but when you shoot it mid-level it's a much easier save than if Howard had to extend to the corner. Raise the puck.
- Worth noting: Only one Rangers defenseman played a heavy defensive zone role last night. Want to take a guess? Dylan McIlrath: 0 offensive zone starts and eight defense zone starts. Both Dan Boyle and Kevin Klein were 50%. Every other defenseman saw offensive usage. Using offensive zone draws first and defensive second: Dan Girardi was 6-4, Marc Staal was 4-2, Keith Yandle was 10-6. Despite that usage McIlrath was only a -6 in shot differential. If you're going to throw the kid in the fire at least reward him -- which won't happen because as soon as Ryan McDonagh gets back McIlrath goes back into the press box.
- I didn't get into the Tanner Glass comments made by Vigneault (about how he's the only one meeting expectations on the fourth line) because it would have forced me to take a nap. What I will say is Sunday was yet another game where the Rangers played a positive possession game and Glass was used in a defensive role and floundered. Also, if any rookie/kid took the penalty Tanner did in the third they'd never play again. Favoritism isn't the best way to coach.