- It can get quiet at MSG on a good day. On a weekday game against a nonconference opponent with no drawing power, on election night? Phones were looked at more than what was on the ice.
- It’s been often said that a team winning games that they should be losing portends a losing streak. After a stretch of stealing games with mediocre play, the Rangers finally lost, and to a far inferior opponent. The Rangers gave this game away.
- The Rangers got off to a great start with a long stretch in the Vancouver zone, during which they changed lines and defensive pairings. The whole possession started with a good play by McDonagh in the neutral zone, stepping up on his man and dispossessing him, rather than collapsing to the zone as was the plan last year. It also included a good pinch by Girardi. Eventually, all of the possession leads to a post by Vesey and a penalty drawn by Nash.
- That possession was a better power play than the actual power play that ensued. Too much standing around, too much fancy boy passing. They have gotten away from the shoot first mentality that made the power play so successful earlier this season.
- The book on defending the Rangers seems to have been written. Clog the neutral zone to take away short passes from the defense to the forwards. We don’t have a defense that can carry the puck itself to eliminate this defensive strategy. Hypothetically Skjei and McDonagh should be capable, but they don’t actually do it.
- Instead, they try long passes which often miss, leading to a lot of icings.
- Second PP, more of the same fancy boy passing among a group of statues wearing Rangers uniforms. Then, the moment the PP ends, Nash drives hard to the net and forces Markstrom to make a great save. Next shift, the GrAG line comes out and gets a great chance off of skating and crashing the net. Where was all of this on the PP? The next couple of PPs for the Rangers went very similarly for the Rangers, although in the fourth PP there was a concerted effort to get Pirri in a shooting position.
- Second period, Fast intercepts a pass from behind the Rangers goal and immediately turns up ice with Buchnevich. Skjei shows off his wheels in turning the rush into a 3 on 2. He drives hard to the net, drawing the right defenseman with him, leaving Buchnevich alone on the left. Fast finds him and Buchnevich just manages to squeak one through Markstrom, 1-0.
- Over the remainder of the period, the Rangers could not establish any consistent pressure, but the Canucks came on. Late in the second, the Sedins and Ericsson get a long shift in the Rangers’ zone. Staal loses track of Ericsson in front of the goal, a Sedin finds him, and he makes no mistake, 1-1.
- Third period, fourth PP expires, Henrik Sedin catches a long pass in the jack in the box play out of the box, and he makes no mistake. Rangers were 0-4 on the PP at that point. What was a source of strength earlier in the season was suddenly hurting them.
- At that point, Kreider and Vesey found themselves riding the pine again. I don’t understand the rationale, at all. Although, Vesey’s attempted pass to Stepan on the 2 on 1 they shared was pretty awful.
- Then things got weird. Raanta gets bowled over by Granlund who gets two minutes for goaltender interference. Another fancy boy PP actually results in a pretty tic-tac-toe PP goal for Rick Nash, the 400th of his career, 2-2.
- But shortly thereafter, the NHL concussion spotter called for Raanta to leave the game. Lundqvist has to come in cold, which shouldn’t be that much of an issue, but he was just not mentally ready. 2 goals in 6 shots will not help his save percentage.
- I had written “paging Mika Zibanejad,” but then he had an ugly turnover in the defensive zone that ended up as a scramble in front of the goal and eventually put in by Alex Burrows. For Skjei, it was very similar to the Scheifele goal from the game against the Jets, with him on all fours, the puck poked into the goal from underneath him, 3-2.
- In the second period, Zibanejad broke in two on one with Kreider, and his nondecision with the puck screams of a guy who is struggling right now. Hopefully his goal in garbage time helps him get his confidence back.
- The Canucks come in 2 on 4, work a simple give and go, all of the Rangers stop skating, first McDonagh at the blueline, then Girardi goes down to block a pass and misses (shocker) and Stepan lagged behind Baertschi charging towards goal, 4-2.
- The Canucks ice the puck with just over three minutes left. Raanta gets pulled for an extra skater, the Rangers lose the draw, the Canucks come down the ice and quickly score in the empty net, eliminating all drama, 5-2.
- In garbage time, the Canucks stop skating, a puck bounces loose to Zibanejad in the slot and he buries it, 5-3. As I said, hopefully that helps him raise his confidence.
- I didn’t mention Buchnevich much in this, which is surprising, considering he had 3 points. He is becoming some player. They need to move him up the lineup, ASAP. If AV is going to keep benching Vesey, perhaps moving Vesey to the 4th line for a couple of games to get Buchnevich more opportunities up lineup would be in order.
- The other big piece of news is that Dylan McIlrath was traded to Florida for Steve Kampfer and a conditional 7th round pick in 2018, the condition being that McIlrath appears in 30 NHL games this season. It was clear that McIlrath was finished here. The only confusing thing is the timing. Both McIlrath and Kampfer were recently on waivers and did not clear. Perhaps it was something for finances for Florida, or perhaps it was the need for both players to already be in the AHL. Certainly, the delay in making the trade on the part of the Rangers was related to Trouba resigning. In any event, I wish him the best of luck in rebuilding his career.
- I also wish our new president-elect, Donald Trump, the best of luck in running the country. On a related note, it is surprisingly difficult for an American lawyer to get licensed in Canada.
My Three Rangers Stars:
- Pavel Buchnevich
- Rick Nash
- Antti Raanta
Your Three Rangers Stars:
- Pavel Buchnevich
- Antti Raanta
- Rick Nash