Friday, October 23, 2009

Recap: Where's the "oomph"? Rangers fall to hated rival Devils 4-2

I was speeding home in the car with with Pucks Junior, and we heard Dave Maloney sum up the first period by saying that the Ranger's needed to play with more "oomph". He meant that the Blueshirts were lacking in intensity - looking a little bit slow and a little bit behind the play. The Rangers were able to raise their oomph level in the second period - knotting the score at 2, but could get no further, eventually losing 4-2 to that team we hate above all others - the New Jersey Devils.

Lundqvist has owned the Devils as of late - especially in our own building - but not last night. Hank wasn't bad - he was good - but not stratosphere stellar. Still, if he'd been given that key 3rd goal - he'd have gotten us at least to OT (the 4th goal was an empty netter).

As Tortorella said in the post game - the Rangers are getting goals from Gaborik - but they need other top six forwards to light the lamp - especially Higgins and Callihan. Higgins has zero goals and seems to be fading. Tortorella did not like what he saw on the ice and kept mixing up the lines trying to find something that works - a new tactic for him - he has been pretty patient with his lines up to now. But Torts has no patience for losing - and he will coach this team - so he tried everything he could think of. Afterwards, Johnny T told Sam Rosen that he wants to look at the game tape to figure out what lines we're going to see Saturday.

Anyway - on the the unhappy recap:

The Goalies: I don't want to have to write this part. It hurts. Brodeur faced more shots - 31 - and only let up 2 goals for a .935 save percentage. And Hank, facing just 24 shots, let three of them slide by for a save percentage of .875. It was that discrepancy that let the Devils win this game.

Of course - the first Devil goal by Parise was a full breakaway as the Devil's top scorer was untouched behind the Ranger defense. And it took a double deflection and an unaccosted Dainius Zubrus at the side of the net to get that third goal past Hank. So I would not blame the King for this one.

Still, in spite of everything, if we'd gotten that 3rd goal for Lundqvist - it says here we would have found a way to win this game.

Special Teams: We actually won this part of the game - what there was of it. The Rangers were whistled for just one penalty and killed the lone powerplay against them. And we converted one of the three chances they were given on the Powerplay. So our specials are still looking good.

The New Veteran Rangers were again the main contributors. Gaborik got us yet another goal. Kotalik added a goal and an assist. And Prospal had an assist as well. Another "pointless" night for Higgins though.

The Returning Rangers? Well, Girardi had an assist. But our forwards? Callahan? Captain Drury? Dubi (minus 2 on the night)? All "Pointless". And we're going to need more from these guys to compete.

The Kids were held off the scoreboard, but every game where Gilroy and Del Zotto play competent defense - like tonight - is a victory for these rookies. And it was out teenager - Zots - who finally stood up for Lundqvist and went after a Devil who tried slashing Hank. (By the way - contrary to some reports you've read - the Rangers can still send Zots back to Junior hockey this year - but not to the AHL - and if they send him - they can't get him back until the Junior season ends.)

The Defense added just a little offense. As a unit they netted one assist.

In Conclusion our once red hot Rangers now have a little two game losing streak going - a two game HOME losing streak. Tortorella had his team in better physical conditioning than the other teams at the start of the season - and we got a nice jump on the opposition. But now - it may just be that other clubs - playing for the long haul - are catching up to us.

Or it could be that a little success has some Rangers thinking that all they have to do is throw their skates on the ice to win. Dubinsky seems to have played his way off the Gaborik line. Tortorella referred to several "bonehead" plays losing he game for us.

But it may just have been an off night. We outshot our opponents 31 to 25. With Hank in goal that's usually enough for a win. We didn't give Hank the proper support back there - but Give Fatso a little credit. Brodeur can still win a game now and again - he's not a bad goalie.

And also - I agree with Dave Maloney. Whatever's causing it, the guys need a little more oomph.

Next Up: Game Six at the Stadium against the Angels. Sorry, I mean the Rangers get one day off and hit the road to face the Canadians and Scotty Gomez in Montreal at 7pm Saturday night. The once proud Habs are 4 and 5 and currently in 10th place in the conference despite beating the hapless 'slanders 5-1 last night.

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