Sloppy Defense Dooms Rangers in OT Loss to Leafs

Source: AP Photo

For a long stretch during tonight’s game, the New York Rangers looked just as good as Ace Frehley did during the pregame festivities. After a solid start, a terrible middle that almost cost them, and a strong regulation finish, the Rangers would find a way to get a point against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who handed them their second straight loss by a score of 4-3.

For a home opener that was going to kick off the team’s 85th anniversary, the ceremony beforehand was pretty lackluster. There was no cake presentation by Duff Goldman as initially Tweeted by the Rangers last night. Instead, we got to see a half-baked Kiss singer perform the song “New York Groove”, but not before he was booed off the ice after his voice cracked several times and he never got into a rhythm.

Nevertheless, the Rangers opened their home season with the same high-flying offense that they had in the first two games of the season–unfortunately, that meant the same defense was making an appearance tonight as well. The rangers surged for the first fifteen minutes or so of the first period, and got themselves on the board roughly eight minutes in, when a Michal Rozsival wrist shot from the blue line snuck its way past JS Giguere. Sean Avery and Ruslan Fedotenko would get assists on the play.

But when the Rangers came out for the second period, it was apparent they had spent too much time with Frehley during the intermission. In an overly sloppy and unrefined period, the Rangers gave up three unanswered goals to MacArthur, Komisarek, and Kessel and fell behind 3-1. Now it was the Rangers turn to get booed off the ice.

At this point in time, the Rangers were very sluggish and found themselves being out-shot 30-12. But still, this game did have a nasty edge to it, as there were plenty of hits and even a scrap by Prust and Brown in the first period, one that occurred when everyone was looking at Boogaard and Orr.

The Rangers then went into the third period determined to tourniquet the bleeding and not embarrass themselves in front of their fans. Brian Boyle, who scored four goals in 71 games last season, answered the call with two goals four minutes apart to tie the game. Avery would get his second assist of the game, while Boogaard and Eminger each got their first as a Ranger.

But before regulation would end, tensions would get heated. Fedotenko would get a roughing call as he nearly put Colby Armstrong in a stranglehold by the half boards. Avery would then get into an altercation with Mike Komisarek and blatantly slash him twice in the legs, the second of which was vicious enough to knock him down. This was noticed by the linesman who informed the referee and gave him a penalty. I would not be surprised to see Avery get suspended here, for what was an incredibly stupid move on his part.

And so the Rangers were able to steal a point in this one, as they got it to overtime. But unfortunately, a bad interference penalty by Marc Staal gave the Maple Leafs a powerplay which they would capitalize on and send the Rangers home with a loss.

Once again the Rangers would surge on offense, and get great platoon scoring, but once again Gaborik and Frolov were no-shows, and Gaborik left midway through the second period with what looked like a shoulder injury after he was checked from behind by Armstrong earlier in the period. The Rangers defense, for the third straight game, was a sieve, and not once did they ever have the Leafs under control. Lundqvist also had a poor outing, despite the little amount of support he received.

The Rangers also lost Chris Drury tonight, who was appearing in his first game of the season after missing the last month with a broken finger. After colliding with Rozsival, he headed to the locker room and never returned. The MSG crew later said it was a finger injury, but they were not sure if it is the same one he hurt previously.

The Rangers have now given up 13 goals in three games. With no immediate answer in sight, Glen Sather better start working the phones and get an experienced defenseman in here, or else this will be the story all season long. Also, Frolov was invisible and although I gave him leeway in the last time, if he doesn’t put in a goal in the next game, I would start to worry— same with Gaborik.

EDIT: According to Rangers Report, Marian Gaborik will be out 2-3 weeks with a separated shoulder and Drury will be out 6 weeks after he broke the same finger, only in a different spot as last time.

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