The New York Rangers came into Tuesday nights game on a two-game losing streak, struggling to win, and a playoff spot on the line. What may have looked like a possible Rangers win in the first period, turned out to be everything but that. Now, their third straight loss and seventh loss in ten games, the Rangers have dropped to four games above .500 and two points out of a playoff spot.
Where did things go wrong for the Rangers last night? Well a player that has been their MVP, their crutch and the oxygen to this team, let them down big time. Henrik Lundqvist. Now, Lundqvist, like I said, has been unreal this year, but this game he was dethroned off his crown. Allowing three goals on his first six shots, which forced the King out of his crease and in came Ondrej Pavelec. If you can not tell by my tone of voice, the Rangers lost Tuesday night.
Game summary, period by period…
Let’s backtrack here now before I blame it on all Lundqvist, it is a team game and the Rangers did allow the Ducks to score in the first 3 minutes of the game, by a player who has scored 20 goals in 291 NHL games played, J.T. Brown(2). Especially terrible since it came off a 2-on-1 straight shot from the faceoff dot from a fourth line grinder. Mistake one. The positive side though the Rangers showed resilience, everytime the Ducks score the Rangers answered, but allowing four first period goals it is hard to really get much momentum going. The Rangers first period goals came off the stick off Rick Nash, a nifty power-play goal in tight for his first and a simple battle in front, in the dirty areas, tapping one home for his second of the game(14,15). The Rangers would allow one power-play goal breakaway from Corey Perry, this was a defensive lapse as Branden Smith and Nick Holden allowed Corey Perry to get behind them for an easy breakaway goal. This would make it 2-1, Nash would score his second of the game(refer above) to tie it at two. The Ducks would again answer back with a terrible goal let up by Lundqvist and what would end his night. Andrew Cogliano came down the right side(as a lefty) and just did all he can to muscle it by Lundqvist high glove, it tipped off Lundqvist glove, and rolled in the net for a 3-2 Ducks lead. Moments before the first ended, Adam Henrique found himself all alone for a breakaway which would eventually be the game-winning goal and his 12th of the season. A terrible turnover by JT Miller in the neutral zone picked off by Ryan Getzlaf and in went Henrique for an easy goal.
The Rangers would hold off the Ducks for the second period and score the lone second-period goal 15:53 into the second, by none other than Michale Grabner, for a short-handed goal and his 21st of the year. The goal came off a bad turnover by Ryan Getzlaf, off balance and trying to keep the puck alive at the blue, Mika Zibanejad, intercepted the pass and tapped it to Grabner, who came in, looking five-hole the whole way and scored five-hole to cut the lead to one, making it 4-3.
The third though was all Ducks and consisted of very little Rangers offense as they were unable to score but did throw 12 shots to the net. The Ducks third period goals came off the stick of team leading Rickard Rakell(18) and captain Ryan Getzlaf(6). Rakell’s power-play goal was a 5-on-3 and something the Rangers could not do much about, a shot from the point save by Pavelec, scrambling for positioning, Rakell was able to get the puck above the goal line by an inch and just tap it in. Getzlaf was an empty net goal with 2:21 to play in the game and scored from center ice off a backhand. This would seal the deal as the Ducks beat the Rangers 6-3, handing the Rangers their third straight loss and now they head to red-hot San Jose for their final game of the road trip.
Postive’s though, not many but some, they did outshoot the Ducks and doubled their shot total compared to their past two games. The Rangers were able to muster 44 shots on net, outhit the Ducks(31 to 23), blocked more shots(9 to 4) had more takeaways(7 to 4), they outshot the Ducks in every period besides the second in which they both threw 14 on the net. The downfall of this game was the four first period goals and allowing two power-play goals, a shorthanded one and taking six penalties.
Rangers month of play after All-Star break…YIKES.
The Rangers are now scrambling for answers, they have dropped three straight, sit outside of a playoff spot and are tied with the Islanders. They trail the Penguins and Blue Jackets by two points and the last team you want to play catch up with are back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. The Rangers need to figure something out, they have one more game until the All-Star break and when they return to action it is a full-on sprint. They return February 1st to face the Maple Leafs(playoff contention) on home ice. Then hit the road for a Texas road trip to face two very good Western Conference teams, Nashville and Dallas(PC). Return home to face one of the best teams in the NHL and another team that has been red-hot, Boston, Calgary(PC). Hit the road for a four-game road trip for Winnipeg, Minnesota, Islanders(PC), Ottawa. The Rangers close out the month of February with Philadelphia(PC), Montreal, Minnesota(PC), Detroit, Vancouver. The Rangers month of February consists of facing off against nine teams that are within playoff contention, yes that what PC means. If things do not look great now, I am not too sure what the month of February will bring Rangers fans. I think it is time to hit the panic button people.