The New York Rangers lost to the New Jersey Devils by a score of 3-2 last night. Specials teams were the difference, but injuries are the bigger concern.
By Chris Wengert
The New York Rangers needed to improve some specific areas of their game following the All-Star break, with defensive coverage and special teams play topping the list.
Well, one out of two isn’t that bad…right?
Before we discuss the negatives, the Rangers seem to be fixing their defensive issues. The forwards are back checking harder and the defensemen are covering the slot more consistently.
It’s not perfect, but the coverage is improving.
The obvious difference in this game was special teams. The Devils were 2/2 on the power play while the Rangers were 0/4.
That is brutal on both fronts.
The Rangers allowed the Devils power play units to move the puck with ease while failing to cover the shooting lanes. This is a recipe for disaster and the results speak for themselves.
Meanwhile, the Rangers have a power play that is all bark and no bite.
The Blueshirts have been moving the puck well on the advantage but are not putting enough traffic in front of opposing goaltenders. As a result, rebounds are not being taken advantage of and the most of the play ends up harmlessly on the perimeter.
Speaking of special teams, Oscar Lindberg will most likely be in Alain Vigneault‘s doghouse after taking that lame interference penalty that led to the Devils go-ahead goal. Absolutely inexcusable for the rookie.
Lindberg has gone ice cold on the scoring sheet and if he is not going to produce, then he needs to stay strong defensively. Taking bad penalties will only give him a one-way ticket to the bench.
Girardi took Blandisi to the outside lane, which is exactly what he is supposed to do. The defense is not always going to be able to step up to a player physically and forcing them to the perimeter is the next best option.
Henrik Lundqvist needs to stop that shot, plain and simple. A shot to the short side from that far out shouldn’t be that much of a challenge for a goalie of Lundqvist’s caliber.
The David Schlemko game winning goal was another short side shot that Hank should have stopped.
Now if Schlemko shot that puck quickly it would be hard to blame it on Hank. Schlemko was all alone in front on that goal.
But Schlemko hesitated, which gave Lundqvist time to set up and yet he was still beat short side. Hank has always been a goalie that plays deep in the net, but he needs to challenge the shooters more.
If Hank is positioned towards to top of the crease on both of those shots, those goals don’t happen.
That Kevin Klein injury looked scary and is perhaps the biggest negative to come out of this game. If he is out for 4-6 weeks with a broken bone then this team is in serious trouble.
Rangers have no immediate update on Kevin Klein.
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) February 3, 2016
Chris Kreider is getting close to finding his game. He’s breaking to the net and taking shots, both of which are good signs.
Conversely, I only hear Kevin Hayes‘ name mentioned once the whole game.
The good news is that the Rangers played a hard fought game against the Devils. This was not another Ottawa game where the Rangers team on the ice looked lazy and unmotivated.
The Rangers played hard, but made some mistakes and lost as a result. While there are no moral victories in the NHL at this point in the season, it is obvious that the team is headed in the right direction.