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courtesy of NHL.com

I hate the 3-on-3. You’ll all think I’m being a sore loser, and maybe I am a bit, but I think it’s a really annoying way to end a hockey game. The NHL was looking for a way to ensure that games end with wins and losses, so they artificially manufacture a set-up that creates bogus chances and odd-man rushes. And that’s what happened tonight. As usual, stats and all that good stuff are courtesy of NHL.com.

Quick Stats:

First Period Scoring-

  • None

Second Period Scoring-

  • 15:16 NEW JERSEY GOAL (PP) John Quenneville; Assists: Joseph Blandisi, Pavel Zacha
  • 16:53 NEW YORK GOAL Oscar Lindberg; Assists: Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Buchnevich
  • 18:22 NEW JERSEY GOAL Taylor Hall; Assist: Kyle Palmieri

Third Period Scoring-

  • 1:31 NEW YORK GOAL (PP) Rick Nash; Assists: Kevin Hayes, Brady Skjei

Overtime Scoring-

  • 4:05 NEW JERSEY GOAL Joseph Blandisi; Assist: John Quenneville

Three Stars-

  1. Joseph Blandisi, NJD: 1 Goal, 1 Assist
  2. Cory Schneider, NJD: 38 Saves, Win
  3. John Quenneville, NJD: 1 Goal, 1 Assist

 

Impressions:

  • Like I said, 3-on-3 overtime can be thrilling with the back and forth chances, but I generally do not like it. And this isn’t sour grapes over a loss. In fact, the Rangers’ OT record this year is pretty solid. I just don’t like when Bettman crawls out of his cave to adversely affect the game. This rule artificially engineers wins and losses before the shootout. Personally, I’d prefer going back to 4-on-4 OT hockey. It’ll provide that extra bit of space that could lead to a goal, but it won’t feel nearly as cheap as the current format does. When, in regulation, do you play 3-on-3? Exactly, it never happens.
  • Putting aside my gripes about OT, the Rangers could’ve done better in the extra time. I can’t believe that the Devils survived that scramble in front of net, where Kevin Hayes notably was robbed by Schneider. There were pucks and bodies to the net; you have to find a way to score there. Also, you’ll hardly ever hear me say this, but Ryan McDonagh’s singular poor play led to the Blandisi winner. Mac skated into the slot to take a shot that ended up missing the net and pretty much served as a perfect breakout pass for the Devils. He has to hit the net there. With how much space there is in 3-on-3, there’s no reason why shots should ever be blocked or miss the net.
  • The 5-goal headline may have you think otherwise, but goaltending was superb in this one. Schneider and Raanta matched each other save for save. Antti stood up to the task tonight, notably stopping Taylor Hall on a breakaway in OT. But, Schneider was really excellent tonight. He was dialed in from the get-go, with that awesome glove save on Zibanejad in the first period and carried it right through overtime, stopping that mad scramble in front of his goal and executing a perfect poke check on Michael Grabner’s breakaway.
  • Special teams were an issue again tonight. Sure, the Rangers potted another power-play goal with a great power forward’s move out of Rick Nash to beat Schneider 5-hole after establishing excellent net-front presence. But the penalty-kill surrendered another goal. That’s 7 straight games. I place a lot of blame on Raanta for not sweeping the puck out of the crease on the Quenneville goal, but it was also a matter of the PK unit getting drawn to one side of the ice and allowing a player to sneak in backside for a goal. Quenneville’s goal was from a bit further out, but it was very much like the Matt Dumba goal in the Minnesota game.
  • The Rangers have suffered from streaky scoring this year and I think it’ll be a big reason (besides of course our blue line) why the Rangers don’t go far into the playoffs. Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello both hit posts tonight on pretty nice shots. Both also recently snapped double-digit goalscoring droughts. Rick Nash was set to have a double-digit drought of his own, if not for the power-play goal (SNY). If there’s one common denominator among Stanley Cup teams, its not only the depth of scoring but the consistency. You won’t win with core players struggling that badly.
  • The rookies and young players made a great impact tonight. Oscar Lindberg benefitted from offensive wingers but scoring another goal tonight. I’d say keep this line together but it causes Jesper Fast to play in the top-9, thus hurting our balance. But it certainly helps to know that Lindberg, Buch, and Vesey have chemistry. And good on Jimmy Vesey for dropping the gloves tonight. It was a scary hit on Miles Wood by Nick Holden, but it was a clean one too. Wood shouldn’t have gone nuts afterward, but Vesey and Holden both answered the bell. Finally, Brady Skjei had such a strong effort tonight. He collected yet another assist, but my favorite play of the night was how he stepped up in the neutral zone to negate a breakout pass to Taylor Hall. If he misses the play, Hall’s gone. But he didn’t. He showed his poise and confidence to read the game and make the play.
  • The Rangers’ magic number is now down to 7 (Zipay). They are super close to clinching and getting AV’s first “checkmark” of the year. They’re pretty much cemented into that first wildcard spot, so these last few games still mean something but should mostly be used to find chemistry and scoring. It’s been reported that Hank is feeling much better and could be back over the weekend. Kevin Klein is also really close, with Dan Girardi not too far behind him. It’ll be good to get the team completely healthy right before the playoffs begin, so that AV can figure out his optimal lineup for the tournament.