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Rangers Vs. Islanders: Defense? What's Defense?

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Notes from the Rangers loss to the Islanders.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

- Before we begin I need to make another humble request to you all: Please go subscribe to Bantering The Blueshirts on Itunes if you can. Even if you don't listen to us there, the more subscribers we get goes to our overall ranking, which will help other Rangers fans find us and make Mike and I so famous we can buy private jets and fly all over the world. It will take some work, but together we can get there! Also, leaving nice reviews and comments will be appreciated and hugs will be handed out. Yay!

- Now before we get into the game notes I have a confession to make:

- And because of that, I feel like I really missed the meat-and-potatoes aspect of the game itself. The second and third period were mostly both teams settling down and not trying to anything stupid -- until Derick Brassard tied the game and then all Hell broke loose again. So I'll be swimming in the shallow water when it comes to the game itself, but I will take a deeper dive into some of the things that happened in the game and what they mean.

- For example: Derek Stepan was pretty pissed at himself for losing the defensive zone draw that inevitably led to Cal Clutterbuck's game-winning snipe. A) There's nothing Antti Raanta could have done about that shot, it kissed the crossbar and the post at the same time -- literally a perfect shot. B) If you're going to place blame anywhere it should probably be on Dan Girardi's failed clear then boneheaded icing that led to that faceoff anyway. C) Maybe the Rangers should have used their timeout to keep Eric Staal (who was tired from a precious shift but also 91% at the dot all game) on the ice. (On that last point, I don't know if the Rangers called a timeout in the first, but I'm guessing they didn't).

Update: They did apparently. I missed EVERYTHING.

- And since we're on the "what decision was that, Alain?" I'm relatively curious what, exactly, it was J.T. Miller did that caught the ire of his head coach -- who then only played him for seven minutes. Vigneault told the media "I just didn't feel that his game was good enough tonight," which is a level of insanity I'm not sure I can understand. I get it, Miller was part of the problem on the first two Islanders goals, but how many times has an established veteran (you know the select few) who have earned Vigneault's "trust" been given second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh chances to redeem themselves? Miller -- especially in a game where you desperately need offense -- is not a guy that should be sitting. All this does is reinforce the hypothesis that someone other than Tanner Glass (who did score a goal) will be sitting once Rick Nash is back.

- E. Staal (I need to start using the first initial) played his best game as a Ranger. A goal, an assist and, wow, more than 14 minutes of ice time. He ended up playing just north of 19 minutes and was as active as he's been allowed to be so far. I'm happy he finally grabbed his first point and then first goal as a Ranger to get it off his chest. Hopefully there's more where that came from.

- Not for nothing but the Jesper Fast top-six experiment has to end. I love Fast, but he's not a top-six player and all he's doing is taking ice time away from other players who can produce more offense there. Kevin Hayes should not be buried on the fourth line (he did have an assist on the Glass goal) and Fast is far more helpful to the lineup in a defensive role.

- By the way, the "Kevin Hayes is lazy" argument has become the new bane of my existence. Congratulations to those people, you are now officially crab people!

- Keith Yandle played a lion's share of the power play minutes and helped that cause when he assisted on Brassard's (at the time) game-tying goal. He also played more than any other player on the Rangers. Keep doing that. That's good.

- E. Staal led the Rangers in shot differential (+15) which is a big part of his game you should be excited about. A certain unnamed $5.5-million defenseman was tied for worst on the team with a -17. Fast was the other player tied with him. Yuck.

- I'm very happy with the Rangers battle level to get back to tied -- and I'm making Clutterbuck's game-winner as something of a fluke, since there's really nothing the Rangers could have done better there. Sure, Stepan lost the draw, but the puck was won back perfectly and Clutterbuck put it home. Tip the cap to it, but that play doesn't work like that 95 times out of 100 (if it even works that may times). I'm sure they'll be some type of knee-jerk reaction to this loss, but aside from the first 10 minutes where the Rangers defense opened the flood gates, it wasn't that bad.

- This looks like the first round playoff matchup. Should be fun*

*terrifying