Today’s review is provided by E3. He did a great job. His legs must have been totally numb by the time he was done. He still could probably skate harder than Pirri did on the third goal, but I digress…
Just a quick note before we get to the review, I’d like it if someone here who is well-versed in advanced stats would like to either assist me in writing a weekly post and/or write one of their own. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, for the review.
Eddie Eddie Eddie (E3)
There used to be a time, not all that long ago, that when the Rangers lost, I’d get pretty bummed out. To a degree it’s still true. But at some point I realized that it’s ludicrous to expect your team to win every game in an 82 game season. Our boys skated out in game 18 owning a 13-4 record and a chance to close out a tough road trip, their longest in the 2016-17 season, with a perfect 4-0 run. Alas, it wasn’t to be. The Rangers lost to Johnny Torts’s Blue Jackets 4-2 in a game that lacked much of the energy and speed which has been the staple of their play to date. On to the game:
1) The puck was bouncing all night. Both teams had problems keeping it on the ice all game. The Rangers best chance in the first ended with Zman whiffing on a bouncing puck inside the circle, left of a wide open net, after a beautiful pass from Zucc. Was the ice bad? How else can you explain why the puck acted like a pinky ball in an old school street game of punch ball. While it might be a reach, it explains why there so many turnovers.
2) The Rangers speed game was non-existant. In fact, any semblance of offense from either team was non-existant. With 6:10 left in the first, Derek Stepan hit the net for the Rangers second SOG. CBJ, a woeful one SOG. Each team finished the first period with three. Torts’ style of Hockey? Hardly so this season. While the Rangers came into the game leading the league in goals per game, CBJ was second nearly a full goal behind the Broadway Blueshirts.
3) The first goal of the game was one that Hank has to stop. No screen. No one anywhere near him, Clear view. Inside the blue line, Karlsson wound up a blasted a slap shot for a 1-0 Jacket lead. The score sheet said unassisted, but I think JT Miller earned the primary assist after a horrible cross ice pass from inside his zone intended for Zucc who was high tailing it at center ice along the far wall. [Editor’s note: this was the exact pass I warned about in the last game review] JT was guilty of many similar poor decisions in previous seasons in his own end and it often led to a seat on the bench. The ole AV hates Miller.
4) Now, I must point out that he’s my favorite player now that future first ballot HoFer, #1C, DRACK Brassard is no longer a Ranger, but he has to be better with the puck. He had Zman, I think, right up the boards for the safer play but the Rangers are fascinated with long breakout passes even those that are east-west. JT is having a fantastic start as he’s their leading scorer. He takes the body, has a good shot, and is more than willing to go to the all important the dirty areas where big goals are often scored, but he must be smarter with the puck in his own end.
5) There’s another play that the Rangers are using a lot this season that’s going to cost them if they’re not careful, and that’s on their PP. With the man advantage, it’s now anathema to dump and chase and what has me concerned is the following: a Ranger with the puck from deep in his own end streaks up the ice hits the red line and throws a blind back pass to one of two rangers still in their zone and that player then carries the puck into the offensive zone and the setup begins. But twice this game, that blind pass was almost intercepted and I predict there will be short handed goal given up if they’re not careful.
6) The first period ended with the Rangers down 1-0. Not to worry as this team has no problems given up the first goal, and even the first two, before mounting a strong comeback. But there were signs early on that something was off. CBJ was clogging center ice preventing the Rangers from the smooth breakouts that we’ve been accustomed to seeing every game. There was only one odd man rush and that was a 2-1 that Stepan and Nash developed but offside ended that play.
7) Neither goalie needed to make a big save because neither team did anything in the other’s zone. Bob and Hank could have sat the first period out, going empty net, and the score would have only been 3-3. Perhaps the second would be better.
8) Well no, it wasn’t. More shots yes, but the play was uneven and uneventful. The Rangers could not establish zone time and had trouble making consecutive passes. That is until Jasper Fast spotted Sam Gagner alone in front who wristed a shot that hit Hank and flew up in the air over his head hitting his back and bouncing into the net for a 2-0 lead. [Editor’s note: BDL must have loved that] Fast has been the worst Ranger in uniform most games this year. The exceptions are when Charles Lindberg steps out of the cockpit of the Spirit of St. Louis, puts on #24, and goes on to commit his guaranteed one, two, or three minor penalties per game. Maybe Lindberg is still finding his way after off season hip surgery but he’s far and away not even close to the player he was last year.
9) But was Lindberg really a good player last year? Certainly started strong but went the last 50 or so games doing very little offensively. Once Boosh comes back, Lindberg will be watching the games from the press box. The Rangers might need to send him down to get some playing time. Can he go without being exposed? How many games can he play before a conditioning stint is considered laughable and an attempt to get around the rules?
10) The Rangers pulled within one when potential 50 goal scorer Michael Grabner intercepted a bad pass and turned on the jets and scored his 11th on a breakaway. He is such a smooth beautiful skater that he doesn’t seem like he’s accelerating, say like Hags did. Grabner has been the biggest surprise in the league this season and is on pace to score 50+ this year. Hard to not love what he brings to this team and he must be signed to a longer deal as I don’t think he’s a flash in the pan.
11) The second ended down 2-1 and while the game was choppy, the Rangers were poised, one hoped, for a strong third period earning the 2 points. But the third was no different from the first two. Sloppy play, bad bounces, little zone time, no attack, little speed if any at all on display. And then with 11:30 left in the game, Zman tied it at 2. The play started with zucc from his own right circle lifting a long pass that landed near the CBJ blue line where THE Kreider batted it down taking it to the net and tried to tuck it in near the left post. Zman took the puck threw it back to Holden who shot it through a crowd. Z again took possession and passed it to Shay who centered a nice pass for Z to one time a snap shot. Best zone time possession of the game.
12) Two minutes later, the Rangers went on a power play and I’m thinking, big time to score a PP goal escape with a not-so-well-desserved win and it’s on to the Garden and lets win 5 in a row. Ahh, not to be. JT from behind the BJ’s net tried to hit Pirri at the right dot but it was tipped by Ryan Murray or it bounced away from Pirri where Karlsson took the puck at his blue line and hit Matt Calvert and the Jackets had a 2 on 1. Calvert went stick side, far side, beating Hank for a 3-2 lead effectively ending the Ranger three game winning streak.
13) Matt Calvert scored the shorthanded GWG. Amazing really because earlier in the second period Hazy ripped a rolling puck that split his head open and Calvert was leaking serious blood. He came back after it was announced he wouldn’t be back wearing a mummy like bandage around his forehead.
14) Empty netter by Boone Kardashian, errr Jenner, with no time on the clock at it ended 4-2.
15) In between periods Sam Rosen was interviewed along with JD and they revisited some memories of the two decades they worked together. Sam has lost plenty off his fastball and I cannot stand listening to Salmon Joe but it was a nice touch.
16) I expect a better effort Sunday and another two points.
Your Three (sort of) Rangers’ Stars:
1) Michael Grabner
2-4) Brady Skjei, Nick Holden, Antti Raanta (tied)