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Rangers Vs. Devils: The Misconception Of Possession

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Notes from the Rangers loss to the Devils.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

- I think there's a pretty enormous misconception that once a team turns around their possession game -- as the New York Rangers have -- then all of their problems will go away. While a positive possession game absolutely helps a team's overall success and can represent a sustainable level of hockey (even if the results don't initially look fantastic) it's not the be all end all. More importantly, it's absolutely not going to help when "best players" who are played like "best players" even though they're not anything of the sort make mistakes. This is a very competitive league, and in a conference where almost every team is fighting for a playoff spot, these games are won and lost on the smallest of mistakes.

- And let me be clear about something: The Rangers were the better team last night and it wasn't much of a question. A lot of people took the opportunity to blame Henrik Lundqvist for the loss -- since he wasn't perfect he seems to be an easy target for the masses -- which I very much so disagree about. If you're not going to look into the deeper rooted problems and you want to throw Lundqvist under the bus then be my guest. But it's not a wise stance to take given the circumstances.

- I can totally see laying some blame on Lundqvist's feet on the second goal. It's from a tough angle and it's probably one he wants back. This is the problem, though, with Lundqvist playing God his entire career. When he isn't perfect fans stomp their feet and cry like a kid who didn't get something on Christmas. After all the games in his career -- honestly, too many to count -- where Lundqvist was the only reason the Rangers won, or performed some herculean miracle to make sure things went the Rangers way where he didn't get any credit and it was just expected, these angry reactions are from crab people.

- And the people who think Lundqvist should have 100% stopped the game-winner are kidding themselves. That's a cross-crease pass that isn't suppressed (more on that in a minute) and it lands on the stick of a wide open David Schlemko. No one should be "expected" to stop that shot. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

- Who happened to be on the ice for both of those goals? None other than Dan Girardi. He got blistered on the wing by Joseph Blandisi for the second goal and somehow (even though he was on a knee with his stick on the ice) couldn't stop Lee Stempniak's pass from reaching Schlemko for the game-winner. Again: when your "best players" who aren't your best players but are being played like your "best player" make mistakes it can sink you. Girardi is at fault two times where the puck ends up in the back of the net.

- Stempniak -- who if you remember the Rangers refused to actually play last year and gave away in a deadline trade that saw them acquire a prospect who they knew was going to bolt to the KHL -- had a goal and an assist and now has 38 points on the year. That would put him atop the entire Rangers in scoring. Good thing Alain Vigneault couldn't find a use for him last year, right?

- J.T. Miller continues to be a bright spot (it can't all be negative). Two goals and a brilliant cross-ice pass to Dan Boyle, who just couldn't finish for a golden tying opportunity. Miller has really blossomed into something here and he's only getting better. Amazing what happens when you actually let growing youth play consistently.

- I have no idea what's going on with Kevin Klein, and apparently Vigneault didn't see the need to ask about him before the post-game scrum. Seems odd, but what do I know. What I do know is that hit -- which happened a mere inches from the official -- has to be a penalty. It was from behind and put Klein into the boards. I don't think it was malicious at all, but it's a penalty. And from the looks of Klein's reaction, he broke his wrist/hand and is going to be out a while.

- Which would mean the Rangers are down their best defensive defenseman, will have to lean on the two biggest problems on defense more and more and figure it out from there. Thankfully this will force Vigneault's hand with Dylan McIlrath but this is not the way this should have went down.

- Vigneault commented on the special teams being the difference. Keith Yandle was on the top unit for one of the four power plays (and it was the best one) and the penalty kill was 0-2. Good thing specialist Daniel Paille was worth the roster spot/contract.

When you do the same thing over and over again they say it's insanity. So what should we call this team's strategy to figure things out?