- Remember the Dallas Stars game that was about as bad a game the Rangers have played all year? Yeah, here’s what I wrote after that game:
In worse news: That hockey game. My word. Outside of the first 30 minutes again Las Vegas (back when Alain Vigneault’s job was supposedly on the line) I don’t think the Rangers have had a more embarrassing 30 minutes of a hockey game. The bad news? It somehow got worse.
The only reason the Rangers got anything out of this game (including not getting blown out about 9-0) was because of Ondrej Pavelec. He did about as good of a Henrik Lundqvist impression as you’ll ever see from a backup goalie. He made 40 saves on 41 shots, and by my estimation 10 of those saves were high profile. At least 10 actually.
Just make a few adjustments and that can basically be the lede here, too. Just swap Pavelec with Lundqvist and maybe talk a little bit more about how bad it was. Here’s some final metrics: The Devils controlled 61% of possession 5v5, had 58 shot attempts to the Rangers 37 and 48 shots on net to the Rangers’ 28. The strange thing (and this has been a somewhat consistent oddity of late) was the expected goals finished 3.65 to 3.58 in the Rangers’ favor at evens. Could have fooled me.
- Pretty much no one was good. I’m struggling to find some positives in this game. There were a few (very) brief moments in the game where the fourth line got some traction. KZB had a couple of shifts where they created something (including a goal). I noticed Mats Zuccarello a few times in a good way. One time Rick Nash broke through the shot and curled a shot that just missed the net. That, outside of Henrik Lundqvist, is about as good of a comment as I can make on this team.
- Kevin Shattenkirk ... woof. Worst game of the year for him by a longshot. This will, of course, bring out the people who think he’s a “5th or 6th defenseman who is only good on the power play” (that’s a real comment I saw on the tweets). I also love how the same people who gave some defenseman years of leash give Shattenkirk leash by the game. He’s super valuable to the team and makes them better (even if he didn’t last night) and you’re going to have to deal with that.
- As for his benching, I totally get it and even agree with it. He was that bad. The problem I have isn’t that he was sitting, but, say, Nick Holden (who has just as many mistakes end up in the back of the net) gets all the leash in the world. This has always been my problem with Alain Vigneault’s Subjective Wheel Of Justice: It only applies to some players.
- Henrik Lundqvist was visibly pissed during the second intermission, and even right after a few saves. I don’t blame him. Take a peek at the defense in front of him:
In December’s games the Rangers have allowed the following SOG totals:— Zach Ellenthal (@zellenthal) December 22, 2017
33, 44, 40, 28, 45, 30, 35, 40, and now 38 through two periods tonight.
This is a whole team issue, as well. It’s not just the defense (although Ryan McDonagh’s struggles haven’t helped, nor have Shattenkirk’s). Marc Staal has ebbed away his hot start to the year, and Nick Holden continues to play with ups and down like a roller coaster. The consistency is Lundqvist, and that’s really all the Rangers have right now. I would point to that and say that needs to fall on the coaching staff, but that’s just me.
- Goals came from Jimmy Vesey, Holden (see above), and Kevin Hayes. Hayes, at the very least, is starting to heat up a little, but man can he let his shot go more. Too often he takes a second to set and it costs him the opening he had. A little adjustment there could make all the difference.
- Some final thoughts on the game in tweet form:
The Rangers deserved nothing, so that they got anything was astounding. It’s all Lundqvist— Joe Fortunato (@JoeFortunatoBSB) December 22, 2017
Henrik Lundqvist every night for the past 11 years pic.twitter.com/z9smqVHaNs— Fitz (@FitzyGSN) December 22, 2017
This game is a perfect example of why Lundqvist’s brilliance have kept this organization from making the sweeping changes they’ve needed at times. He is literally a lifeboat on the Titanic— Joe Fortunato (@JoeFortunatoBSB) December 22, 2017
Me: *praises Hank, Buch, Ziba, Shatty, Hayes, Kreider*— Joe Fortunato (@JoeFortunatoBSB) December 22, 2017
Them: Washed up, not good, needs a show me contract, sucks at D, is lazy, never lives up to potential
Me: Other players should be used over Vesey
Them: You’re so negative? Why do you hate the Rangers? Do you like anyone????