With what seemed like a record low in attendance for a Rangers-Islanders game this afternoon, it did not deter the players from both sides from putting forth a spectacular effort that lasted from start to finish. Rarely early on in the season are games as fast-paced as this one was, with the Islanders coming out on top 6-4 over the New York Rangers.
Once again there are many positives and negatives that can be taken from the Rangers second game of the season. As great as their offense looked once again, was as bad as their defense looked. The rangers forwards surged this afternoon, for the second straight game, giving the team ten goals now on the season. However, the defense and goaltending has allowed nine, and although this is still very early in the season, the Rangers need to nip this problem right now, before it becomes a year-long occurrence.
After today’s game, there is no doubt left in my mind that the Rangers need defensive help. Aside from his goal and an assist, this was a game to forget for Michael Del Zotto as two sloppy plays he made directly led to goals. The rest of the corps was not much better.
The Rangers got off on the wrong foot, after allowing a goal to Blake Comeau 12 minutes in. But they would answer right back, on the powerplay, with Dubinsky’s third goal of the season—assists went to Del Zotto and Rozsival. Less than three minutes later, the Islanders would grab the lead again, on a goal from Josh Bailey.
We would also see a fight between Brandon Prust and Zenon Konopka, which lasted over a minute and was a very even bout.
The Rangers would carry the flow of the game in the second period, as they scored two goals, one from Del Zotto, also on the powerplay, and a wrist shot from the blue line by Dan Girardi. With momentum elevating, the Islanders would inflate it by scoring with less than a minute to go, tying the game 3-3.
With ten minutes to go in the third period, I left for class but listened to the rest of the game on the radio. Artem Anisimov scored his second of the season on assists from Gaborik and Callahan, but then the roof would cave in as the Islanders scored three unanswered goals (two on the powerplay, to which both calls were called “questionable” by Kenny Albert and Dave Maloney), to defeat the Rangers 6-4.
With two games in the books, it is imperative that the Rangers acquire some defensive help. Switching Gilroy in for Eminger will achieve nothing, and the Rangers have not just been lethargic or flat-out bad, but sloppy. Perhaps they are too worried about creating offense, something they have done to the teeth for two games this season, but the defensive corps needs to stop worrying about joining the rush and settle down to play some defense. The Rangers now have four days before their next game, the home opener against the Maple Leafs, and that should be enough time to work on their game.
Sean Avery also had an excellent game again, crashing the net and creating chances. His incident with James Wisniewski will no doubt be looked at by the league, and Wisniewski should game a one game suspension or at least a fine. If Avery did the same thing, we would have a catastrophe on our hands. If he gets away Scott-free with this, it will be NHL hypocrisy at it’s finest.
I am impressed, however, with the platoon-scoring the Rangers have shown in two games. With 10 goals scored and not one from Gaborik or Frolov, the Rangers now how secondary scoring for the first time since Jagr and Shanahan in 2006/07. I am not worried in the least about a lack of production from the two top guns, as they will both wake up—Gaborik will score his 40, and Frolov will get his 25-30. But secondary scoring is sometimes hard to come by, so if you had to take one positive out of today’s matinée, that would be it.