Rangers vs. Islanders: No Rest For The Weary

Rangers exit bye week and enter world of humiliation vs. equally rested Islanders

  • After a 7-2 thrashing at the hands of the New York Islanders, this press conference was fresh on my mind – keep in mind this came after a 2-0 loss. If John Tortorella got this upset over a loss like that, I can only imagine how mad he’d have been in the press room of Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon.
  • I watched Alain Vigneault’s limited availability shown on MSG network, and the word I would use to describe his demeanor is “annoyed.” He looked annoyed talking about what went wrong, but not angry. /
  • He talked about mistakes that were made and not expecting this type of effort. That last line is surprising considering the team has looked dreadful as of late.
  • The Rangers under Vigneault have gone through some rough patches, but Saturday’s loss was something completely different. The team lacked fire, it lacked direction, and it simply reminded me of another period in “distant” Rangers history./
  • Shortly afterwards, this tweet was sent out and brought some context to my assumption./
  • Saturday’s game carried a significant amount of importance because it was the first of eight that will take place over the next 13 days./
  • The level of play was certainly uninspiring, and the team wasted an opportunity for Henrik Lundqvist to get some rest. While the team is coming off a bye week, Lundqvist was being rested ahead of Sunday’s contest vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins.
  • He was brought into the game after the fifth goal and he clearly wasn’t happy about it. The first sign of frustration came after he hopped over the boards and made it a point to go up and down the bench, barking at his teammates to get in the game./
  • Lundqvist went on to stop the six shots he faced in 13:09 during the second period, and once the buzzer sounded he should some more frustration, this time at assistant coach Lindy Ruff./
  • Overall it was just an afternoon where things didn’t go right and emotions were visible.
  • In the post game captain Ryan McDonagh was clearly irked, although the tone and tenor in which he spoke with the media was par for the course. What was somewhat different was his assessment of the team. Usually McDonagh is very good at talking about the successes and failures of the team as a collective unit, but after this game spoke of there being lack of everyone doing what it takes to win./
  • Overall the team needs to have a short memory because they face another tough test vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh is coming in hot, and the Rangers can’t afford to lose ground.
  • It will be interesting to see how Vigneault shakes things up with lines. We saw McDonagh skating with Steven Kampfer and Nick Holden back with Marc Staal. Will Brendan Smith draw back into the lineup? Will Pavel Buchnevich get off the fourth line considering the need for offense?
  • Vigneault’s job was allegedly in jeopardy in October, and a loss vs. the Vegas Golden Knights on Halloween could have resulted in his dismissal. The Golden Knights as of today are one of the best teams in the league, but can we reflect on how stupid it was at the time that AV’s fate hinged on the performance against an expansion team that was using its third string goalie at the time?
  • If the Rangers were to lose in embarrassing fashion vs. the Penguins on Sunday, would that force Jeff Gorton’s hand? To be fair, this isn’t all on AV. The roster has some noticeable flaws, but he does himself no favors when he routinely deploys players in a questionable way.
  • There needs to be a plan, because there are problems with this team independent of who is calling the shots behind the bench. There are going to be tough decisions to made, but if done right the Rangers could make moves that lay the groundwork for serious contention next season. This would mean moving Nash and Michael Grabner among others.
  • For now, the Blueshirts are on to Pittsburgh, as they look to stop the bleeding and pick up a regulation win for the first time since December 19th./