- Look, every team is going to have games like that. Every Stanley Cup winner throws up laughers, lays eggs and craps the bed. For Stanley Cup contenders, however, those moments are rarities on a landscape filled with gutsy wins, clutch performances and statement wins. I think we can all agree that’s not the case with the New York Rangers. Make whatever argument you’d like about this team when it’s fully healthy -- and I’d be right there arguing next to you that they’re dangerous — but this team is not a true Stanley Cup contender. This is a Rangers squad that, akin to previous years, has to hope for elite goaltending to carry them to the Cup. And this is a Rangers team that has such an issue at defense even Henrik Lundqvist’s glow is tainted.
- Lundqvist was the best Ranger on the ice by a mile, not that it’s saying much to point that out. There wasn’t much of anything he could do about any of the goals, and he was routinely left out to dry. Not much more to say here.
- I’ve said this a lot in the past but not so much recently: When your best players have to be your best players to survive, it’s disastrous when they’re not. Ryan McDonagh was downright awful. Kevin Klein (who by no means should be noted as a best player but is currently on the top pair) was disastrous. Marc Staal made mistakes. Nick Holden made mistakes. Dan Girardi was Dan Girardi (despite sporting a 68% corsi) and Brady Skjei has been in a downward spiral since maybe before Girardi was tethered to his pairing.
- Much like how Lundqvist has to lift the world on his shoulders, so too does McDonagh. He simply can’t have an off night and expect to get away with it. Is it fair? No, but this is the reality of the situation at hand.
- None of this should take anything away from how bad the offense was. I noticed Brandon Pirri a lot (he also missed the net a lot), and Nicklas Jensen at times. Oscar Lindberg was OK and J.T. Miller had probably his best game in weeks. Outside of that, everything else was trash. And even the above weren’t exactly killing it.
- A lot of people said the Rangers had no jump (true) and Alain Vigneault took the blame for the players not being ready (that’s a shared blame, but fine). The issue is these guys have not been ready for a lot of games (big and small) and haven’t been able to consistently play their game since the injuries.
- Now, the end there plays a big role in this. The Rangers are missing their entire first line on offense, which isn’t something to ignore. However, the Rangers defense is and has been 100% healthy all year, and even with Vigneault adjusting Girardi to the bottom pairing, this defense is being exposed time and time again. If you’re replying on the offense to pick up the defense, you have bigger issues at hand. Bigger issues that remain to be issues and at this point, I have no idea how Jeff Gorton can even go about fixing them this year (longer story alert).
- The Rangers take on the Flyers tonight, in a game where you’d expect them to be juiced up. But Philadelphia is much, much better than Buffalo so ...