Thursday, November 24, 2011

1 Goal, 50 Hits, and Lots of Errors - Ranger fall to Panthers


The Ranger's 7 game win streak suddenly seems like something that happened to a different team in a different, better, season. It's been 9 days now since the Rangers have beaten anyone. Our hockey team lost 2-1 last night to the Florida Panthers – scoring just 1 goal against Jose “Three-Or-More” Theodore and casting doubts about our offense, our identity, and our season. For today's analysis – we'll go with The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good: There were several bright spots:

1 – Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers' best player once again kept them in a hockey game where they were badly outshot. Hank made 36 saves with a .947 save percentage – letting up one one even strength goal. Another wasted stellar performance, more than good enough to win most hockey games for most teams on most nights – but again not enough for this hockey team to win with last night.

2 – Marian Gaborik made a nice play to grab an assist on the Lone Ranger goal – stick handling in the offensive zone, drawing skaters to him and making a perfect feed to...

3 – Derek Stepan – who took the Gabroric pass and found the upper right corner of the net to open and close out the Ranger scoring for the night. And for the week, actually.

4 – Hits. The Rangers delivered 50 hits last night – most of them legal (we'll explain later) – with Dubinsky leading the attack with 10 of his own. The aggressiveness is good – the opportunity to hit is partially due to the long stretches where we don't have the puck.

The Bad:

1 – Artem Anisimov was running on empty – dragging the GAS line down with him. The top line center (for the moment) looked silly as he got faked out by Flieschmann down low to Lundqvist's left for the Cat's only even strength goal of the night.

2 - Ryan Callahan - the Captain keeps committing harmful penalties and it was during his 4 minutes (not Deveaux's major) that the Rangers gave up their special team's difference-making goal.

The Ugly:

1 - Andre Deveaux collected 10 of the Rangers 16 minutes in penalties last night – all in one nasty dangerous elbow-to-the-head of the Panther's Fleischmann midway through the 2nd period at center ice. Tomas was down on the ice for several scarey minutes before getting up under his own power – and even eventually returning to the game. Deveaux was correctly assessed a 10 minute Match Penalty – and will likely face suspension by the league office. This was exactly the type of head shot the NHL is finally getting around to caring about. Panther coach Kevin Dineen called it a perfect example of “what's really wrong with the game”. If you want Dave Pucks opinion – I don't like intent-to-injure tactics by anyone in any league and I was very unhappy to see a Ranger do something like this

2 – Man-Up! Ranger Special teams lost the game last night. When we started the game the Rangers had the 28th worst powerplay unit in the NHL.  And when the game was over?  We dropped to 29th!  The PowerPlay was a pointless 0-4 including some 5-on-3 time. And our Penalty kill was 3-4, not terrible, but when you get outscored on special teams in the NHL you lose. We did, and so we did.

A Few More Notes:

Avery Watch: Just: 7:07 of ice time. Not good. No shots. No hits. 1 take-away, 1 give-away. (In Biblical terms: Sean giveth and Sean Taketh Away). 2 Penalty minutes. And an even plus-minus. Oh, and when someone had to serve the 10 minute Match Penalty for Deveaux, who do you think Torts sent to the penalty box? Our Seanny.

Stralman - finally - got his first Ranger ice time – after waiting since November 5th to play in a game. 10:26 of ice time, 3:25 on the powerplay, a plus-minus of +1, and 2 hits.

So as they eat their Thanksgiving Dinner, the Rangers can think about what went wrong in their last two games. Is it the natural ebb and flow of the season, or is it something much worse? Did the Rangers look good against weak competition, and is their poor special teams play exposing them against the better teams? We'll all find out together as the season rolls on.

Happy Thanksgiving from Dave Pucks, Pucks Junior, and the whole Pucks family! We hope you come out of the that nasty scramble in the corner with a drumstick or two.

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