Recap: Rangers Drop Third Straight, 4-1

At least they didn’t give it all up in the first period?

On a night upon which Vitali Kravtsov and Jake Leschyshyn were scratched for “roster management” reasons, the Rangers faced off against the Detroit Red Wings with eleven forwards and seven defenders.

First Period

The Rangers and Red Wings both played most of the first period like they wanted to avoid big mistakes. It was a medium-paced, low-event affair. Unfortunately, Tyler Motte left the ice after blocking a shot in the shoulder/neck area, leaving the Rangers’ bench even shorter. Poor guy can’t catch a break in a Rangers sweater. Though the Rangers kept the wheels from falling off, they still trailed by the end of the period. The cobbled-together line of Zibanejad-Goodrow-Vesey lost an offensive zone face off cleanly. The Red Wings broke out quickly and transitioned across the ice practically untouched, resulting in a goal by Trouba’s pal Andrew Copp, assisted by Michael Rasmussen and David Perron.

Second Period

The second period featured a lot of downtime that included lengthy discussions between refs and coaches, a penalty video review, and a broken glass panel that needed fixing. Vincent Trocheck tied the game momentarily. He stripped Robert Hägg of the puck and carried it into the zone, and when Ollie Määttä took the pass away, Trocheck used the room to sneak the puck five-hole on Ville Husso.

The tie was not to last. This time it was Dylan Larkin who stripped the puck from Motte, who returned at the beginning of the period, and he set up Filip Zadina for his second goal of the season.

The Rangers cranked up the tempo a bit late in the period and sustained some offensive zone pressure that culminated in a huge opportunity for Adam Fox, but Husso robbed the defender with a desperate kick save just before the rubber crossed the goal line.

As these things seem to go, the Red Wings came back scored the next goal. The Rangers’ defense broke down after a zone entry, leading to a wide open opportunity for David Perron. Halak made the initial save but found himself out of position and short of help from his skaters, allowing Rasmussen to clean up the rebound to extend the Red Wings’ lead.

Third Period

Down 3-1 going into the third Gerard Gallant kept his forward lines together, but tinkered with the defense pairs, which, fair enough. Miller and Trouba in particular were on ice for two goals against and got hosed in xG, with a paltry 24.89% through the first two periods.

Early the period, the Rangers took a bench minor for too many men, which feels like it happens way too often. Filip Hronek scored his ninth goal of the season on the ensuing powerplay. Despite all the size and toughness and physicality of Trouba and Mikkola, they failed to clear the front of the net, allowing Halak to be screened on the shot. Copp picked up the primary assist, giving him three points against his former team.

Things briefly heated after that, with a couple big hits leads to scrums and a fight, but little came of it, and Ben Harpur’s appearance at LW signified the raising of the white flag.

After winning seven straight, the Rangers have now dropped three in a row. Just a blah performance in this one, pocked by defensive miscues, particularly in transition. Halak made a few good saves but overall was a bit subpar. If I had to pick a bright spot, I’d say Tarasenko had a few good looks, and if he keeps finding those chances, some will start to go in. It’ll be interesting to see if the defensive pairs (Trouba and Mikkola, Miller and Schneider) stick, especially considering the struggles of Miller-Trouba lately.

More interesting still will be what comes of this so-called “roster management.” Perhaps we’ll find out by Saturday at 1:00, when the Rangers visit Washington to take on the Capitals. Or perhaps not.