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Rangers Vs. Canadiens: Blown Opportunities

New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens - Game Two Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images
  • The momentum swing from a moment like that, let alone the final result, is enormous. Many claim momentum doesn’t travel with or against teams game by game but I’ve never been a believer in that. I do think momentum moves with you, something you can build on. It’s why a 2-0 lead would have been such a difference rather than the now 1-1.
  • The Rangers might not have deserved to win last night’s game even before the 17 seconds that we will discuss in detail in a few moments, but you win that game and you suck the life out of Montreal. You win that game and you take a stranglehold on the series and bring it back to your house. Instead, Montreal feels like world beaters and the pressure is right back on the Rangers in a big way.
  • It was almost like a reversal of teams at one point, too. The Rangers were being dominated in shots (not that part) but were unloading on the Canadiens. The Rangers finished the game with 74 hits to Montreal’s 53, which makes sense because the Rangers were chasing the puck most of the night and for all 18 minutes of overtime.
  • Had the Rangers played a spectacular game and lost it still would have stung, but it wouldn’t have felt like such a missed opportunity. George summed this up pretty well:
  • Alright, let’s just get this out of the way now. I’m giving Alain Vigneault a significant amount of blame for how this one ended. The Holden-Staal pairing (until that final scrum) had been on the ice and were mostly responsibly for both Canadiens goals to that point. Holden, specifically, has had about as bad a two games as a player could have. The Smith-Skjei pairing, on the other hand, has been a godsend from the heavens that’s been everything and more for the Rangers in this series. So who do you think does play the “final out” moment of a game where the Rangers are in full-out shell and who do you think didn’t see the ice the final 3:36? I’ll wait.
  • So, yeah, you know the answer. It is such an Alain Vigneault way to lose, to have two guys who continuously show you they can’t handle the moment be put in the moment anyway. Holden breaks his stick on an unnecessary slash, falls on all fours in the crease and has the puck bounce off him for the game-tying goal. Holden played more than Smith did last night and about a minute less than Skjei (and some of that had to do with power play time). It is utter insanity.
  • The media, of course, threw their head in the sand on the matter. They also threw their head in the sand to the fact that Rick Nash (who was one of, if not the best Rangers forward) played the 7th LEAST amount of ice time at evens among forwards. I know there’s a million things you can nitpick after a playoff loss, but Holden-Staal were allowed to play major roles despite being part of all but the game-winning goal. Adam Clendening was once removed from the lineup after a game where he played well and had an assist because he had “a could of bad touches with the puck.”
  • Final note on Vigneault because if I keep typing them out my keyboard is going to burst into flames. There better be some serious adjustments to the Game 3 lineup. I want Holden as far away from this lineup as he can get. You know who I think should be playing even though he won’t be, so Kevin Klein will likely come in if the swap is made and may be a marginal replacement. Or it will be just as bad. We’ll see.
  • OK bonus note: The way the lineup is being worked out by the coach, he’s asking Tanner Glass, Dan Girardi, Staal and Holden to have the games of their lives every night. Glass wasn’t as good in Game 2 as he was in Game 1 but I don’t have a word of complaint about him. Girardi was shelled in this game but by my eye test he wasn’t as bad as the stats say he was. Staal and Holden have been as bad as they could possibly be. It’s not a good way to try and win a hockey game.
  • Nash and Lundqvist will, of course, be forgotten in the loss. Lundqvist made a career-high 54 saves and was jaw-dropping in the overtime where it looked like the Rangers iced their peewee lineup. Nash scored one of the prettiest goals I’ve ever seen him let go, and was an animal. He gets a red flag for trying to do too much in the neutral zone and coughing up the puck on the game-winner, though.
  • I loved Mats Zuccarello, Jimmy Vesey (the stage is not too bright for you, young sir), J.T. Miller, Smith, Skjei and for the most part Derek Stepan. Two things about Zuccarello, one sad and one so funny I had to stop watching it because I couldn’t breathe:
  • I thought Kevin Hayes was alright then invisible. Same for Michael Grabner. Hayes seems to be a whipping boy for reasons I will never understand but we have bigger issues right now.
  • Is anything more Montreal Typical than Steve Ott throwing a predatory, high-heat hit on Zuccarello when the puck is a million miles away, Shea Weber punching Miller multiple times while the ref is on top of him and Montreal walking away with the power play from everything? It might be not calling the cross check on Grabner with 20 left but calling the slash on Kreider in overtime. The officials were brutal in that loss. Not that they caused what happened, but they very well could have changed the game. Awful officiating, as usual.
  • Vigneault said after the game that the Rangers would forget about the final 17 seconds the moment they hit the ice Sunday. I fear that’s true, because often this team does not make adjustments of any kind even after huge issues pop up.
  • Bring the heat Sunday, MSG. They need you.