The New York Rangers’ downward spiral continued this evening with a 5-2 loss to the Nashville Predators, as the Rangers have now lost five of their last six games. Not only did the Rangers lose on the scoreboard, but the injury bug came out in full force once again. Jimmy Vesey and Marc Staal were removed from tonight’s game with suspected concussions after both were victims of brutal checks to the head.
How neither of those hits were even called a penalty is even more outrageous. They were textbook hits that the NHL bangs the drum about, but not even as much as a minor was called on either of them. Then there is the Cody McLeod factor, who the Rangers supposedly brought in to provide a physical presence. Dave Maloney summed it up perfectly on the post-game.
McLeod didn’t prevent the Predators from taking liberties against the Rangers, as we saw with the two headshots, and he was no where to be seen after them. As Maloney alluded to, the only thing McLeod did was brush up against Alexei Emelin in the corner and skate away. Which makes the decision to claim/dress McLeod even more confusing, when that roster spot could have easily went to someone more deserving like Vinni Lettieri.
But lack of physicality wasn’t the reason the Rangers lost tonight. They had NINE shots on goal halfway through the game and their only two goals came on the power play. As the schedule continues to drag on, it’s becoming more and more evident that the Rangers will be sellers as the February 26 deadline approaches. While their lineup is quickly becoming a skeleton of its former self, the Rangers aren’t doing themselves any favors with their recent play.
Following tonight’s loss in Nashville, the Rangers will travel to Texas for a meeting with the Dallas Stars before returning to MSG on Wednesday night. With Marc Staal and Jimmy Vesey likely sidelined as they go through concussion protocol, it will be interesting to see who the Rangers recall from Hartford in the meantime.