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Rangers Vs Penguins: Not Good Enough

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Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
  • Quick update: In the original post I totally forgot about the whole Ryan McDonagh thing, so I’m adding it here. His turnover in overtime was Girardi-level bad, and he’s not looked himself all year. You can make the claim that his lack of stability on his partner is an issue, but no one is as bad as Girardi was last year, so that’s not really an excuse. The Rangers will go nowhere fast if he doesn’t figure his game out. When I see DeAngelo bailing him out of a mess you know it’s an issue. He has to be better. Period.
  • These two things about Henrik Lundqvist can exist at the same time. 1) He should have 100% hugged the post and kept out Sidney Crosby’s (still lucky) game-tying goal. 2) He was an animal in the game overall, and without him the Rangers would have lost by six or so.
  • These two things can also exist at the same time. 1) That was the best game the Rangers have played this year (in stretches), and showed what they can look like when they get their crap together. 2) They had no business winning that game, thanks to a rancid first period that forced Lundqvist to play the superhero role.
  • Alain Vigneault raised some eyebrows with his continued personnel decisions. Pavel Buchnevich played on the fourth line, and saw less time than everyone but Adam Cracknell. At even strength he played just over five minutes. That’s an absurd waste of an asset in a game where the Rangers needed all the offense they could get. Don’t worry though, rather than asking about his ice time, the media asked about J.T. Miller’s faceoff percentage. You know, tough questions and whatnot.
  • Buchnevich, by the way, scored a goal on the power play, had a 64% corsi, a 75% scoring chance for percentage and a 62.7% expected goals for percentage. No need to play someone like that. Can’t think of any reasons at all.
  • I will say that AV, at the very least, gave Tony DeAngelo a fair shake the past couple of games. DeAngelo played over 17 minutes, recorded his first point as a Ranger, and ran a beautiful power play. He was also solid in his own zone (52% corsi at even strength) and made a few great defensive plays to keep things close.
  • Rick Nash might be the most snake bitten scorer of all time. He hit the post twice, in an otherwise outstanding game.
  • Miller recorded a goal and two assists for a three point night. He, like many of the Rangers forwards, desperately needed an explosion game, and it appears like he got it.
  • I never had a major issue with David Desharnais being moved up to the second line. If the top nine is going to play somewhat even, then he can hang up there for a few games. That was before his goal and filthy assist on the Michael Grabner goal. He’s a streaky scorer who should hover around 40 points this year. Whatever.
  • The same people who think Chris Kreider sucks because he’s soft, are the same people who complained that he’s an idiot for throwing his weight around and taking two penalties. Can’t really have it both ways, even if those were soft calls.
  • The power play continues to breathe life into a disastrous offensive showing at times. However, for as good as the 5v4 was, the 5v3 was just as bad. First of all, having Mats Zuccarello at the point is a waste, since there’s no real fear of a shot. If you’re going to have Kevin Shattenkirk there — which you should — then put Mika Zibanejad on the point so he can swing down low to take those big shots. Or, ideally, Buchnevich who can pass and shoot. Hell, even DeAngelo there would be an upgrade on Zuccarello.
  • The alarm bells should be going off now, guys. You can fall out of a playoff spot in October. Elliotte Friedman did a whole study on teams who were more than three points out of a playoff spot by November, and the Rangers are in danger of hitting that mark. The advent of three-point games have been part of why this is the case, and there should be a fear about this.
  • Longer story alert, but I think we’ve reached the point where Vigneault’s message has gone stale. This team continues to do the whole “horrible first period, backs against the wall come alive, lose it late or barley hang on to win” thing we’ve seen the past three years. Lundqvist will not be able to bail you out every game (see last night as an example) and we continue to walk down this road. His seat has to be hot, right? Red hot? I guess that’s the question.