New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

The New York Rangers pulled out a 6-3 victory against the Buffalo Sabers, but the score sugarcoats some issues that must be resolved following the break.

By Chris Wengert

The New York Rangers beat the Buffalo Sabers by a score of 6-3 at MSG last night.

I stated a few days ago that I thought it was important for the Rangers to rip four straight to keep their current playoff spot.

Were they able to accomplish that feat? No, but three out of four games isn’t that bad, especially since the Islanders lost last night.

But a win, is a win, is a win-right?

Perhaps this statement is true in the playoffs, but in January you want to see your team taking steps to improve their play and for the most part the Rangers have been doing that.

The Rangers could have easily folded and slumped back into their December ways after Buffalo tied the game at three, but they didn’t allow that to happen.

Having said that, the Rangers really need to address how they constantly allow their opponents to score just moments apart.

Same Old Situation?

This consistent problem shows a lack of mental toughness, which is perplexing for a team that has demonstrated just the opposite over the past few years.

The Sabers wouldn’t cash in on the opportunity this time though, as J.T. Miller would respond a minute later to silence a wakening Buffalo beast.

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Speaking of SOS, the Blueshirts also need to stop leaving players in front of Lundqvist. Chris Kreider was the culprit this time:

This probably didn’t translate to television, but I was watching the Rangers that were away from the puck while in their defensive zone.

It was really interesting to watch the Rangers’ coverage because there were multiple times when Lundqvist had to point out open players.

This happened on a few occasions and you could see the frustration in Henrik’s body language, as if he were saying “He’s right there, how can you not see that he’s wide open!”. 

Maybe the Rangers are just overthinking it, or perhaps it’s coaching. Either way this problem needs to be resolved, and fast.

No team will advance in the playoffs without a strong defense in front of their goaltender.

It was nice to see Derick Brassard producing once again, and he had quite the evening with five points (2 goals, 3 assists). Hopefully this jump-starts Brassard’s play, as he has been M.I.A. lately.

The power play has looked really, really good lately and last night was no exception. If the Rangers can learn to shoot the puck and get to some rebounds it will be even more efficient.

Mats Zuccarello netted a beauty off of a great feed from Derek Stepan, but Zucc’s reaction was by far the best part of the whole play:

It was great to see Dylan McIlrath on the ice instead of Dan Boyle.

Boyle was producing for a while which made up for some of his glaring issues, but that ship has sailed.

McIlrath’s defensive play is his biggest attribute and exactly what the Rangers need in the lineup right now. His hard-nosed style is sorely missed in the Rangers defensive zone, and McIlrath helps to remedy this.

His great shot helps also.

Unless McIlrath really has a disastrous couple of games , there is absolutely no reason that Dan Boyle should play.

But we all know how Alain Vigneault loves his veterans and I’m sure Boyle will be back in the lineup soon enough.

The All-Star break couldn’t have come at a better time for the Rangers.

While the Blueshirts were able to keep their heads above water without Rick Nash last night, that won’t continue if he’s out for an extended period of time.

The break will allow the Rangers (and their fans) time to clear their heads and heal.

NEXT: MLB: With Regards to Baseball’s Designated Hitter, Leave As Is

I've been a die hard Rangers and Giants fan for as long as I can remember. I enjoy sharing opinions, and hearing from fans that love their teams just as much as I do. Henrik Lundqvist makes all of us look like mere mortals. E-mail me at: