Rangers vs. Panthers: The Song Remains The Same

Rangers lose to Panthers in devastating fashion to end month of November with a record of 9-3-0.

  • The New York Rangers fell to the Florida Panthers 5-4 in a gut-wrenching loss. The team went down 3-0 early, clawed back to seemingly tie the game at 4-4 before a disallowed goal, actually tied the game, and then gave up the game-winning goal in the waning moments of the game.
  • Henrik Lundqvist had a rough night, giving up three goals on five shots. Not all of the goals against can be pinned directly on him and after 13 starts in a row he was bound to have a clunker.
  • Ondrej Pavelec was solid with 19 saves on 21 shots and it was good for him to get some action. If I were AV I’d start Pavelec on Friday vs. Carolina and send a well rested Lundqvist out next Tuesday vs. the Penguins in Pittsburgh, since after that matchup,the Rangers have six games in 9 days, including two back-to-backs.
  • I used “The Song Remains the Same” in the headline because once again this team was successful and unsuccessful due to the performance of familiar characters.
  • The Rangers’ top line was amazing against Florida. Pavel Buchnevich and Chris Kreider have some amazing chemistry that is the definition of poetry in motion./
  • Kreider scored two goals and tallied an assist, and Buchnevich had a lone goal and two assists as well. /
  • Buchnevich also showed some toughness and pugnacity after the end of the second period when he got physical with MacKenzie Weegar and later Nick Bjugstad./
  • David Desharnais deserves some praise as well, as the veteran center was thrust into top-line duty when Mika Zibanejad was a late scratch due to an upper body injury. He picked up three assists on the evening, all on goals featuring Buchnevich and Kreider.
  • Despite the domination and success of this line, Buchnevich had the lowest 5v5 ice time of 11:19, Desharnais had the third lowest of 11:45 and Kreider had the fifth lowest of 12:01. Jimmy Vesey led Rangers forwards in 5v5 ice time with 14:28.
  • It is baffling that Alain Vigneault didn’t roll that line more, because they clearly had it all going on.
  • They weren’t the only forwards to look good though; Rick Nash and Kevin Hayes, the two players who were involved in a controversial goaltender interference call, both performed well./
  • This is something the NHL never seems to get right and there are a number of reasons why the goal should have been allowed. /

1.) Jared McCann committed the NHL equivalent of defensive pass interference. He had his back to the play, and pushed and pinned Nash into Reimer.

2.) Nash stayed within his space at the top of the crease and kept moving without adversely impacting Reimer.

3.) Reimer continued the play and stayed in position, but missed the shot mostly because McCann took away some of his vision. All I can say is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • The Rangers ultimately went on to tie the game in the third, but the aftermath of this goal being disallowed was like air being let out of a balloon. The team was rocking and this broke things up a bit.
  • So about that game-winning goal...
  • The Panthers took the puck at center ice, but threw it into the zone. Instead of taking the puck behind his own net, Nick Holden throws it out of the zone./
  • Florida works it around and eventually Brendan Smith blocks a hard one-timer from Mark Pysyk. The puck deflects out, is collected by Pysyk who set up Denis Malgin for a one-timer that Ondrej Pavelec didn’t see due to a screen by Holden./
  • Additionally some blame can be given to Mats Zuccarello for not picking up Pysyk, but the main fault goes back to Holden. With a little over a minute left in the game, you need to manage the puck better. He had no business throwing it out of the zone, and then screening the goalie.
  • It is understandable that with Ryan McDonagh out of the lineup Vigneault has limited options, but time and time again it has been proven that Holden can’t handle crunch time situations.
  • To be fair, that isn’t 100% his fault. Holden is a defender with an offensive tilt, but he is trusted more in these situations than say Brady Skeji or Kevin Shattenkirk. The Rangers have to assess their defense long-term, because a bottom three of Holden, Marc Staal and Steven Kampfer isn’t ideal.
  • If this team has any aspirations to play in late May and June, another defender needs to be added. It would make sense to have Anthony DeAngelo, Ryan Graves, Neal Pionk or Ryan Sproul get a few games with similar deployment. First make them prove that they don’t belong, then consider trade options if none do. Since the bar is set pretty low already, the Rangers have nothing to lose.
  • TL/DR: Rangers got off to a slow start and the top line got them back into the game with domination despite limited ice time. The game was lost because of defensive breakdowns that can be avoided by proper deployment and using better players.
  • In other news, this was the last game being counted toward my #HockeyFightsCancer fundraiser. Thank you for your support./
  • Rangers are off on Wednesday and Thursday and will get back to action on Friday at home vs. the Carolina Hurricanes./