The 2-0 score of tonight’s game may indicate that the matchup between the New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues was a close one, but in reality, the Rangers were never really in this game, even with all the powerplay opportunities and chances at even strength. From the opening face-off, right up until Alexander Steen buried the empty net goal with under ten seconds remaining in the third, the Rangers looked lethargic and listless at times, and this coming from the team that did not play a game last night.
The first period was boring, for the most part. Two bad penalties would be taken by Ruslan Fedotenko back to back; with all the anger being directed at Frolov (which is to come later on in this recap), Fedotenko too deserves a little bit of flack for his offensive production, which has consisted of only one goal and four assists in fourteen games. He has been unnoticeable, unlike Frolov, who has been frustratingly bad.
The only other item worth mentioning in the first period was a Rangers goal that was disallowed. Oddly enough, it was Alex the Invisible who scored the goal that would be waved off. Whether or not the referee’s call was correct, it does not matter, because the Rangers had plenty of opportunities later in the game to make up for it and failed. But to describe what happened, Anisimov was in his own end and flipped the puck up in the air where it might have been touched by a high stick of Nikita Nikitin. With Bill McCreary holding his arm up, the puck rolled towards Ty Conklin as Frolov and a Blues defenseman skated towards it. The Puck would be touched by Alex Pietrangelo, prompting a whistle, but it was never under St. Louis control. Seeing this, Frolov took the puck and shot it between the legs of Conklin, but only after the whistle blew. The whistle can clearly be heard blowing before Frolov even touched the puck, so that is not the issue, but it is not conclusive of whether or not the Blues player actually high-sticked the puck.
The Blues would score the first goal of the game a little more than five minutes in to the second period. I actually did not see it, so I cannot describe what happened, but it would be netted by Alexander Steen, his first of two, on assists from Boyes and Oystrick. After two more failed powerplays, bringing the Rangers total to three missed man-advantages, the game moved along to the third period where the Rangers would have a glorious chance to tie this game.
This chance would come via a five-minute major powerplay, when B.J Crombeen checked Derek Stepan from behind. But the Rangers would only be able to tee up four shots in the five minutes, with no serious scoring chances. The powerplay would also come after Frolov was robbed once again, after the center Stepan set him up beautifully from behind the net. Minutes after the powerplay expired, Anisimov would have a wide open net with the goaltender down, and still found a way to miss the net—the exclamation point on tonight’s game.
The Rangers continue to rotate great games with frustrating ones. Tonight’s game would be the latter, as the Blues stiffing defense left the Rangers singing the blues. The Rangers would out-shoot St. Louis, but only record 27 shots. Steve Eminger would also continue his nightly streak of bad penalties. Backup goalie Martin Biron did play well tonight, though, stopping 21 of 22 shots.
If there is any good news in this, it’s that Marian Gaborik may be cleared for contact later this week. The Rangers offense was keeping them in it, but it is painfully obvious that the Rangers need their superstar.
Tonight’s shutout of the Rangers by St. Louis marks the first time in their history that the Blues were able to shutout the Rangers. This was the 128th matchup between the two teams since the NHL Expansion in 1967.