Sunday, February 8, 2015

Living In A Post Lundqvist World – Rangers Fall 3-2 to Nashville

We’re all waiting to see if the Rangers can compete without Henrik Lundqvist – because Hank is out of the lineup with what apparently is an injury to one of the major arteries in his neck. 

But – this contest was not a fair comparison because it was (1) against the NHL’s top point team and (2) the Rangers were without Derek Stepan – their best center – who was out with flu like symptoms.  And if you remember when Stepan was out earlier this season (and I’m sure you do because you’re good like that), the Rangers couldn't beat anyone then either, even with Hank in the line up.

What I’m saying is that the Rangers could have easily lost to Nashville on the road with Hank if they didn't have Stepan.  So don’t panic – okay?  (Editor – but you’ll tell us when we can start panicking, right?)  (Dave Pucks – yes I will)

The Rangers played hard and well for much of the contest, outshooting Nashville 32-23, and (astonishingly) winning the face off battle 41-23. 

The amazing Mr. Nash got the Rangers the lead early in the 2nd period – on the power play – when he muscled his way to the front of the net – received a great pass from Brassard – had his first point-blank attempt turned back by Pekka Rinne and then calmly found the rebound and slammed it home.  It was the Ramgers only lead of the afternoon and it held up until late in the 2nd when tragedy struck

The Predators has one-two-three shots at the Ranger net without our heroes able to clear,  Cam saved the first two – but the third – a rifle shot by Josi from inside the right circle that Cam could not handle at 18:39.

And it got worse. A sequence that featured Karl Hagelin deciding to waste time by a pointless check without his stick instead of retrieving it – Nashville capitalized with a Shea Weber goal ay 19:20.  So the Rangers, 90 seconds from taking a 1-0 lead into the locker room, ended the second period trailing 2-1.

To our credit – without Hank or Steps the Rangers did mount a comeback. 

Early in the third, unrestricted free agent Mats Zuccarello made a great pass to Ryan McDonagh near the blue line on the right side.  Ryan deked the defenseman, moved into the lect circle and shot into traffic past everyone for a 2-2 tie.

I would have signed up of OT right there – and for 11 minutes it looked like it could happen, but at 12:46 Mike Ribiero netted his career 700th. Girardi went down to block it but missed – and two more players screened Talbot who could not come up with the puck. 

The Rangers mounted several more chances but could not convert and in the end fell 3-2.  Hagelin was -2 on the night and I’m wondering if he’s a healthy scratch Sunday.

Uh, A Little Help?  2 assists for Brassard, one for Zuccarello, Hayes and McDonagh. 

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  A definite No.  Rangers scored on the PP and stopped the Predators on their only extra skater.

Where Do We Stand?  Let’s assess the damage.  Rangers are 30-16-4.  The tumble out of third place in the Metro to the Capitals who have two more points – but who give up three games at hand to NY.  If you’re looking up, we’re only 4 points out of first to the Penguins – also with three full games at hand.  But if you’re looking down – we are still 8 point ahead of Florida and the line-of-death in 9th place.  We’re 7th overall in the east.

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Quick turnaround – we’re home at 5pm Sunday to the Dallas Stars.  Interesting test for Cam – we’ll be pulling for him.

Non Sequitur of the day:  So can we just stop talking about face-off win percentage already?  The Rangers have been wining games and losing face-offs all year.  Yesterday they dominate the face-off battle 41-23 (that's 64%) and still lose the hockey game.  So maybe it's just not that important of a stat, okay? 

Dave Pucks will be there this afternoon in section 222.  Can we get a chat of “Tal-bot” going?

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