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The Rangers 100% played like this was some throw-away game up in Rochester. I hate losing to the Islanders in general but there was so much at stake here, ego aside. These were 2 crucial points that would’ve given us confidence at home and get us that much closer to clinching a playoff spot. There seemed to be zero sense of urgency until the last 5 minutes of the 3rd period. Horrible, terrible stuff right before the playoffs. The chance to cut the magic number was wasted and the Rangers also dropped to an abysmal 19-16-3 at home. Disgusting. As usual, stats and all that good stuff are courtesy of NHL.com

Quick Stats:

First Period Scoring-

  • 2:46 NEW YORK GOAL (PP) Mats Zuccarello; Assists: Mika Zibanejad, Derek Stepan

Second Period Scoring-

  • 3:40  NY ISLANDERS GOAL Anders Lee; Assists: Anthony Beauviller, Nick Leddy
  • 6:36 NEW YORK GOAL Rick Nash; Assists: Oscar Lindberg, Nick Holden

Third Period Scoring-

  • 5:01 NY ISLANDERS GOAL (PP) Nikolay Kulemin; Assists: Anthony Beavuillier, Joshua Ho-Sang
  • 12:38 NY ISLANDERS GOAL (PP) Andrew Ladd; Assists: Anders Lee, John Tavares

Three Stars-

  1. Anders Lee, NYI: 1 Goal, 1 Assist
  2. Anthony Beauvillier, NYI: 2 Assists
  3. Rick Nash, NYR; 1 Goal

 

Impressions:

  • The Rangers are now 19-16-3 at home. AT HOME. At MSG, the world’s most famous arena. A place where the team is revered and fans, like myself, yell and scream and curse and pay obscene amounts of money to attend. It’s pathetic how bad we are at home this year, and I honestly can’t point to any specific reason. Chalk it up to complacency, I guess. The Rangers have been so good at home for so long that it could very well be that they take home ice for granted. I tell you what: any inclination I had to further spend money on tickets is gone because I know that if I go to another game, I have a 50/50 chance of seeing an absolute stinker of a game. No way I put myself through that agony.
  • The Rangers are way too passive in front of their net. The Anders Lee goal saw Brady Skjei not pick up his man, but rather puck-watching. The other two goals are a product of the Rangers getting pulled to one side, leaving one defenseman in the crease and no backside support from a forward. Sure, the Islanders’ first power-play goal was the partly borne out of two consecutive deflections, but what you also see is the Islanders’ ability to set up in front of net. It was the same deal with Ladd’s goal; only one Ranger defending the crease and Ladd all alone to score the goal. I watch countless other teams collapsing and compacting into their own crease, but the Rangers find themselves constantly setting up higher in the slot than they should, getting stretched out, getting  pulled away from the net, and allowing attackers to skate in untouched. This bad habit seems to be cemented into the team;  Jeff Beukeboom better lock himself into a room with a whiteboard and figure this out.
  • The defensive woes saw the Rangers lose the special teams battles yet again. 2 more power-play goals given up in the third period of a really tight game to extend the streak to 8 games with a PP goal conceded. Yes, the powerplay once again scored, but the lack of execution on the PK lost the Rangers this game. Honestly, I’m sick of talking about this. The special teams issues are always mentioned in my postgame impressions; it’s getting annoying. I wish the Rangers would fix this, if for no other reason than to make my writing less redundant.
  • The Rangers did a pretty good job of taking the puck to the net. Mats Zuccarello, the smallest guy on the team, managed to convert on the power-play but going straight to the net. And of course, Rick Nash made a hell of a move to put the puck past Thomas Greiss while falling to the ice. Chris Kreider also had a really good game in front of net. He did not score, but I thought his play in and around the blue paint was very noticeable, but at even strength and during the man advantage. He really did well to establish net front presence.
  • This is the second straight game in which Rick Nash has scored a goal as a result of some power forward moves and taking the puck to the net. That’s now 20 on the year for our big winger. I get the feeling that Nash’s 30-40 goal years are behind him, but he plays such a great two-way game and has been really strong of late, even before the puck was going into the net. Let’s hope these two goals are the start of a hot streak that could make the Rangers a sneaky contender in the postseason.
  • The Rangers will regret some missed opportunities during that furious barrage at the end of the 3rd period. It was by far their best sequence of possession in the game, but they missed chances time and again. The worst of these missed opportunities was obviously Kevin Hayes whiffing on a wide-open net. Hayes has had an excellent year for the Rangers and has made a believer out of me, but he needs to convert there. That’s inexcusable at a time when the team needs it most.
  • AV continues to baffle me with his over-reliance on veterans or guys that he just seems to really like. He inserted Tanner Glass for Buchnevich, which I don’t really like but can understand, given some of big boys on the Islanders. And Tanner did well to beat the shit out of a much bigger Scott Mayfield. That being said, what in the hell is Jesper Fast doing on the 3rd line at the expense of Jimmy Vesey?! The insertion of Glass on the 4th line instantly takes that unit back to its defensive, checking role. Jesper Fast is much better suited for that than Jimmy Vesey and likewise, Jimmy Vesey provides much more offense to what should be a 3rd scoring line than Fast. I’m not saying this lost us the game because it definitely didn’t, but AV is hamstringing the lineup in this case. A suddenly balanced scoring attack now has a huge offensive disparity between the top- and bottom-6.
  • Speaking of AV, I think that the coach’s post-game comments concerned me more than anything I saw out on the ice. As reported by SNY, Vigneault said in the post-game press conference, “The way we came out, we played a strong game. We had some real good looks, defensively we didn’t give up much…We came out and played a good game, it was a hard fought battle and we just got on the wrong side of a couple of bounces in the third.” Was this guy watching the same game? Was he watching his team lose a home match against a heated rival that could’ve cut the magic number in half? Was he watching a loss that saw his team drop to a pathetic .500 record at home? Was he watching the defensive lapses that saw one defender in the crease against 2+ Islanders time after time? Was he watching his PK unit give up the lead and fall behind on consecutive kills? Did he see Kevin Hayes miss an open net to remain behind by 1 goal? Clearly not. I’ve always supported AV; he may very well be the best coach without a Stanley Cup in the league. But his comments suggest a loser’s mentality to me. Would Joel Quenneville or Darryl Sutter be satisfied with this performance? I doubt it. Those guys demand 110% effort from their squads, especially at this time of year, and both have multiples Stanley Cup rings for their trouble. AV’s comments immediately gave me the feeling that he does not have what it takes as a leader of men to get the Rangers over the hump and deliver a championship to New York. To be satisfied with this performance is embarrassing and shameful.