The Rangers entered tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens coming off one of their best games of the season, which was a 1-0 win over the NHL’s best Vancouver Canucks. Unfortunately, more stagnant offense and an undisciplined penalty by Brandon Dubinsky (in retaliation for the P.K Subban slew-foot the last time these two teams met, contributed to the Rangers 3-2 loss tonight in Montreal.
- First period: The Rangers seemed to get off on the right track when Brian Boyle (15) knocked a loose puck past Carey Price a little less than seven minutes into the game. Brandon Prust had swiped at it as well, but Boyle was the last one to touch it; Girardi would also get an assist. It would be all downhill from there, as the Rangers would collapse for three minutes after failing to maintain their discipline. The Canadiens would get powerplay goals from Roman Hamrlik and Tomas Plekanec to take the lead, and then Andrei Kostitsyn would score their third goal. The Rangers failed on the two powerplay opportunities they had, as their offense was simply putrid. It has looked like this for many games, and they don’t even get shots on goal, let alone quality chances. This has to change—a peewee team would look better than they do.
- Second Period: What was a relatively tame period, aside from another two blown mad-advantages, turned very intense at the 17:47 mark. Lundqvist had been bumped into on the Canadiens powerplay minutes earlier, but then he would be completely run into by Matt Pacorietty, causing the goaltender to fall over hard into the net. With Pacioretty laying on the ice, Lundqvist got up and pounced on him, punching him numerous times until it turned into a pile-on. Brian Gionta then jumped on top of Lundqvist, and bodies were locked up everywhere. This was a play that was years in the making—Lundqvist is constantly being bumped into and remains perfectly calm while the gutless dolts this team has on defense do nothing to protect him. Pacioretty was pushed by Dubinsky, but this was something Lundqvist had to do—enough is enough. This melee came off of three amazing saves on Montreal’s powerplay. Lundqvist was not assessed a penalty for the incident, and the crowd would boo him every time he touched the puck or made a save the rest of the game.
- Third Period: For the first few minutes, there seemed to be no indication that the Rangers could come back in this game. They looked disinterested to say the least. There would be a breakthrough at the 6:57 mark when Mats Zuccarello (2) shot one in off a pass from Derek Stepan behind the net, but that’s as close as they would come to tying the game up. Lundqvist continued to be brilliant, but it was to no avail as the team in front of him could not shake their uninspired play, and the Rangers would fall 3-2.
Every game recap after a loss seems to sound the same: the Rangers aren’t shooting enough and with that comes a lack of goals. Gaborik yet again was invisible and I’m not even sure if Chris Drury is actually on the team anymore. It’s great to see the Prust-Boyle-Fedotenko line playing well, but if they are the Rangers’ best line night in and night out, the Rangers are going to start to slip in the standings. That and the atrocious powerplay is equating to some listless offensive play.
The Rangers have been very good at cycling and keeping the puck in the opponents’ zone, but that is a moot point if they aren’t getting shots through. Though the Rangers were able to put up 21 shots in the third period, it was too late. Had they kept the pressure up all game long (and stayed out of the penalty box), they would have won. The Rangers can’t seem to play more than one solid period every game, and that is a big problem.
The team will now return home for a game against the Flyers tomorrow. I would like to see Biron in net, but because it is an important game, Lundqvist may get the start on back-to-back nights. If it was up to me, Biron would have played tonight and Lundqvist tomorrow, but that ship has sailed.