Following last night’s thrilling overtime victory over the New Jersey Devils, the New York Rangers were handed a 5-2 loss by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Given that the Rangers were coming off of a game last night, and having played a ton of hockey down the stretch, they were due for one of these games. The Blue Jackets were also coming off of a game last night, but this is only their second game back from their bye week so it likely didn’t affect them all that much.
The good news though, is that despite the circumstances, the Rangers did carry a decent portion of this game tonight. Unfortunately, Sergei Bobrovsky was lights out in net and the Rangers just couldn’t find a way to get more than one past him (aside from the late goal). You never want your team to purposely “throw” a game away, but there is some silver lining that goes along with tonight’s loss.
It’s no surprise that going through the Metropolitan Division is a death sentence for the Rangers, and their best bet is to land in the first wild card position. There’s certainly a ton of hockey left to be played, but with tonight’s win the Blue Jackets leapfrogged the Rangers while still having two games in hand.
Home ice certainly hasn’t been kind to the Rangers as it has been in the past, and for the 3,000th time, the Rangers surrendered and early goal. Alexander Wennberg started off the scoring barrage for the Jackets by deflecting David Savard’s point shot, and beating Henrik Lundqvist through the five hole. Thankfully, the Rangers were able to respond almost immediately as Rick Nash tallied his 18th of the season.
The goal sequence started a few seconds prior, with the Rangers quickly transitioning from behind their own net. Upon entering the zone, Jimmy Vesey had plenty of time to pick his spot, but elected to dish the puck over to Rick Nash on the far side. Nash immediately fired the puck on net, and wound up beat Sergei Bobrovsky just over the glove hand to pull the Rangers even.
From that point on though, the Blue Jackets would add four unanswered goals and they held a commanding 5-1 lead in the third period. The Rangers wound up getting one final goal with less than a second remaining in regulation, as Jesper Fast picked up his fifth goal of the season. The goal may not have meant much in terms of relevancy, but it does show just how great the Rangers’ fourth line has been playing.
Every time they are on the ice, they make their presence known in the offensive zone and even chip in a goal here and there. They came to play once again tonight, and were rewarded, even if it came with the game already lost. Following tonight’s loss, the Rangers will have one game remaining before Wednesday’s trade deadline, where they are expected to try and add a piece of two.
Will they follow the trend of making a big splash a la Kevin Shattenkirk, or will they opt for a cheaper option and build some defensive depth. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.