Heading into their match against the Montreal Canadiens, the Rangers had already lost their previous four games, allowing 13 goals in just their last two. And with news that Rick Nash and Micheal Grabner would sit (so they wouldn’t get hurt before being traded), there wasn’t a lot to expect from the club. The Rangers’ playoff hopes were killed a while ago and they entered into the game missing a lot of key members of the team. What could you expect when you ice a lineup like this?
And yet, the Rangers put worth an absolutely atrocious performance against the 28th best team in the league. If there’s one thing that summarizes the game nicely, it’s the total shots for each team near the end of the second period. At one point, the Canadiens had 31 shots on goal while the Rangers had 11. Only 11.
Thomas Plekanec scored the first goal for the Canadiens, as Rob O’Gara lost his man and allowed a pass from Paul Byron to go right across the crease to a wide open Plekanec. The second goal was more of the same, as Jeff Petry was able to tap the puck into the open net on the three on one. J.T. Miller had stepped up for a big hit in the neutral zone but left Brady Skjei all by himself to defend the three Canadien players coming down on the rush.
Overall, it was a horrendous game for the Blueshirts (and a terrible game to watch). By far one of the biggest issues of the night was defensive coverage and allowing chances in the defensive zone. Besides both goals coming off poor defensive play, there were countless times throughout the game that the Canadiens were able to find giant open spaces in the offensive zone and get chances directly in front of the net. There were way too many breakaways and odd man rushes by the Canadiens, forcing Alexandar Georgiev to make a lot of high-quality stops and bail out the team. There were several breakaways and countless mistakes in attempting to get the puck out of the zone. For long stretches of time the Canadiens controlled the puck in the Rangers’ end and hammered them with shot attempts.
On the other side of the puck, the Rangers had absolutely no offense through the first two periods. They couldn’t sustain any pressure and failed to gain the zone with control, dumping the puck down the ice only to see the Canadiens retrieve it seconds later and bring it back. There was also the fact that the Rangers took five minor penalties and didn’t play with a lot of discipline throughout the first two periods.
But the game wasn’t without its positives (even if there were just a few). Towards the final five to 10 minutes in the third, the Rangers finally came to life with some offense. Pavel Buchnevich was one of the few Rangers players who was creating some offense the entire night and he had a lot of good plays, setting up Miller with a good opportunity on the power play in the third. Miller also had a gorgeous breakaway chance where he dangled around a Montreal defender and almost slid the puck past Antti Niemi.
Finally, Georgiev had a fantastic night, stopping 38 out of 40 shots for a .950 save percentage. The Canadiens could have easily had four or more goals if Georgiev wasn’t standing on his head. The Canadiens flooded the area right in front of him and pounded him with shot after shot but he held strong, making a lot of saves look very easy. He did allow two goals but there was nothing he could have done to prevent either of them.
The Rangers are set to play again on Friday, February 22nd. They’ll be going against the Minnesota Wild and will be trying to break their now five-game losing streak.