Rock Bottom anyone? The Rangers may have hit it. (Until the next rock bottom anyway). After a 7-1 start we are 11-10-1 having just lost to a suddenly hot Florida Panther team that beat Buffalo 6-2 then beat the Detroit Red Wings on Friday and us on Saturday.
We jumped to a 1-0 first period lead on Prospal's unassisted (soft) goal - then watched the Panthers score 3 consecutive in the 2nd and 3rd. Gaborik (who else) made it 3-2 but the Rangers could get no closer.
We out hit (37-27) and outshot (34-28) our opponents. Despite being down two centers we won the faceoff battle (26-23) The give-aways though were 5-0 favoring the Panthers. And we only got one powerplay all night.
The first line did all the scoring again. 2 goals. But Line 2, 3 and 4? Nothing, nothing, and more nothing. Do we miss Dubinsky and Drury? Of course we do. But can't anyone else on this hockey team score a goal? Sean Avery is looking more Avery-like – but his play has not resulted in any actual points.
On the other hand – our top line was -1 on the night. They scored 2 and let up 3. And our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lines were the ones that broke even on the night.
However you want to look at it - right now your Ranger team is falling apart – and everyone else we're playing is looking faster, tougher, more organized, and – sorry to say – better coached than we are. I just don't get it. And here's how it happened last night:
The Goalies: Hank made some great saves. But the Ranger defense exposed him for a lot of odd man rushes. In the end Lundqvist faced 28 shots and let in 3 of them – a .893 save percentage. And in the NHL, if you don't save 90% of your shots against – you're probably going to lose. And we did.
Vokoun saved 32 of 34 shots for a .941 save %. And that was a lot of your hockey game right there.
Special Teams: We had a big advantage in this area coming in, but the Panther committed – or make that – the Panthers were whistled for – only one penalty. So the Rangers had one PP – and failed on it. We did kill off the two shorthanded chances against us. But a tie in specials is a win for Florida – who has done poorly in this area.
The New Veteran Rangers: Once again they were the whole show. Gaborik and Prospal had the only two goals, with Vaclav (his name is not Vinnie) getting the assist on Gabs goal. Prospal's goal was unassisted – after Gabs and Kotalik collided and left the center on his own. He made his way to the net and trickled it past Vokoun.
The Kid Rangers were pointless last night.
The Returning Rangers? Nothing much. Rozy had an assist, but the forwards were pointless. 5 shots and 4 hits for Sean who has shown some signs of life but no goals.
Defense on Offense: One assist for Rozsival. One shot for Del Zotto.
In Conclusion: Again we out-shoot the other guys and come up short. I can understand the team's frustration – this should be working. We're shooting more. We have the better goalie. What is wrong? And the answer is – the opponents shots have been better quality. As mentioned, the giveaways last night were 5 for the Rangers and zero for Florida. In a one goal game – that was the difference.
Next Up: Well, extra rest sure didn't seem to help us – so let's try over-work instead. Four games next week. The 12-6-3 Columbus Blue Jackets come to town Monday. Try not to look ahead to next weekend's home and home with Pittsburgh. It's too depressing.