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Rangers Vs. Stars: They Got No Spark

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NHL: FEB 05 Rangers at Stars Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

- Another game, another ho-hum, saw-it-coming-from-a-mile-away loss. Dallas had 21 shots by the end of the first period, and finished the game with 42. For those of your counting, this is the 28th time the Rangers have given up 30+ shots in their past 32 games. Really think about that for a moment.

-I also think it speaks volumes that Lindy Ruff watched pretty much the exact same defense he drove into the ground in Dallas, shut down the Rangers with ease while Ruff’s new defense played with the grace of a new-born calf.

- Henrik Lundqvist, once again, was the big difference in this one. People are still (I am also shocked) pointing to “close losses” like the one Monday night as proof that this team is still good enough to merit a shot at the playoffs, even with the injuries. I will remind all of you that forcing Lundqvist to be perfect in order to luckily find a single series win in the playoffs is foolishness.

- So the Rangers look over their roster during the All-Star break and decide they need some grit. They need some jam. They want that tough spark to fire the boys up because they’ve gone too soft. Three games for Cody McLeod, and three embarrassing losses. In the case of Nashville, McLoed watched as the Predators threw headshots at will (that injured Jimmy Vesey and Marc Staal no less) with no consequences. That’s because enforcers do literally nothing to prevent/deter cheap shots. They also don’t create space for anyone. Those are old-school, used to be true in the 70’s narratives.

- By the way, this isn’t a shot at McLoed; he’s doing literaly what he’s done his entire career. But it’s clear that the things this coaching staff think are the problem (not them or their approach, sadly) aren’t the problem. That doesn’t mean we won’t keep trying guys like McLoed and Steven Kampfer over and over again, because again, Vigneault doesn’t think him or his method are part of the problem. If the Rangers are selling (and it really seems they are) then all these current lineup calls are something of a moot point; who cares, burn it down. Is it laughable Alain Vigneault inserted McLoed for Vinny Lettieri the past two games? Yes, And by the way, Lettieri might have been the Rangers second best forward last night. Is it comical the Rangers would rather look at Kampfer in the NHL than, say, Ryan Graves or Neil Pionk? Of course! But this is the environment Vigneault has created.

- I mean, what else can you really say about a game like that? Nick Holden was an unmitigated disaster. Anthony DeAngelo actually looked solid (he has since the callup) and yet Kampfer was in the top four rotation. Brendan Smith continues to struggle for reasons I can’t even begin to fathom — as Adam asked, did a monster suck out his hockey soul?

- The Rangers got nothing out of their power play, as has been the case for a long time. I would really hope Vigneault would see just how much he/the team misses Pavel Buchnevich as the pivot along the half-boards, but we all know he probably doesn’t even think missing Buchnevich is a big deal. I also hope everyone can see just how much worse this defense can be without (even the injured version) of Kevin Shattenkirk.

- I’m trying to appreciate these final moments of Rick Nash. There will be a lot of thoughts when he is inevitably traded, but for now I’m just enjoying him for everything he is and was to this team.

- As the Rangers turn towards selling, I once again wonder what Jeff Gorton thinks about this team. And more importantly, what he thinks about the men behind the bench.