Brady Skjei
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It was clear to see why the Nashville Predators were Stanley Cup finalists a year ago, and how far the New York Rangers are from doing so. 

  • Nashville Predators 5 (31-12-7, 69 Points)
  • New York Rangers 2 (25-22-5, 55 Points)
  • NAS Goals: P.K. Subban (13), Kevin Fiala (14,15), Colton Sissons (5), Viktor Arvidsson (17)
  • NYR Goals: J.T. Miller (12), Mika Zibanejad (15)
  • NHL, Final, Boxscore
  • Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN

The New York Rangers could only muster 20 shots against Nashville’s Pekka Rinne as the Predators, behind two goals from Kevin Fiala, outplayed the Rangers in Nashville. When you don’t shoot, you can’t score. Hockey is simple like that.

It’s easy to see how far the Rangers are from competing for a Stanley Cup. Yes, injuries are a factor, but on this particular night, Nashville was head to toe better in all facets of the game.

The Rangers were outshot 12-5 in the first frame while taking two penalties. Of course, as he’s been all year, Henrik Lundqvist was equal to the task. The five shots they attempted were pretty pathetic as well. No Rangers forward was able to generate possession, quality scoring opportunities, or establish a forecheck.

The Preds came out flying in the second frame and scored only 19 seconds into the period. P.K. Subban came flying down the wall and stepped into one of his infamous one-timers and ripped it past a screened Lundqvist to make it 1-0.

Later in the frame, Brady Skjei turned the puck over at his defensive blue line to Craig Smith. Smith was then able to attract three Rangers over to him which allowed Kevin Fiala time and space to walk right down the slot and beat Lundqvist with a quick snapshot. The Rangers were caught puck watching and hence the two-goal lead.

J.T. Miller got things started on the power play 21 seconds into the third period on a great redirection on a pass from Mats Zuccarello.

Ryan McDonagh made a great keep in play at the blue line and slid a simple pass over to Zucc who one-touched the pass to Miller. With the assist, that gave Zucc 300 career points, a definite milestone for the undersized forward from Norway.

Congrats to @matszuccarello on picking up his 300th @NHL point tonight!

A post shared by New York Rangers (@nyrangers) on

But the Preds, to their credit, were very quick to respond and only a minute and a half later, Colton Sissons got on the board with a nice redirect himself. P.K. Sub again walked into a slap shot served on a silver platter and hammered it towards Lundqvist. Sissons got just enough on it to get it past Hank. Brendan Smith miss played a puck at the blue line and while retreating further into his own zone to retrieve it, he made a soft play up the boards.

Mika Zibanejad and the hot power play struck again later in the third period. Mika nailed a one-timer from his usual office on the top of the left circle.

But again the Preds were quick to respond, and 16 seconds after Mika scored, the Viktor Arvidsson scored. The Preds were quick off the face-off to get the puck into the zone and used a speedy forecheck to force the Rangers into a turnover.

Kevin Fiala put the cherry on top with his second of the game.

Questionable officiating no doubt played a role in this game but the fact of the matter remains, no Ranger was engaged, period. Nobody was in on the forecheck creating turnovers. The defenseman were skating turnovers. To add to the laundry list of issues, Jimmy Vesey and Marc Staal sat out after leaving the game with back to back questionable hits.

Marc Staal’s injury is very concerning. As most know, he has had many concussion issues in the past. We will see how he recovers. Vesey returned to the game momentarily after receiving some dental work, but it appeared the league concussion spotter called down and pulled the plug.

The Rangers return to the ice Monday, Feb. 5 against the Dallas Stars. Puck drop is 8:30 p.m. ET.

Neal Purcell has a tremendous passion for New York Rangers hockey and the sport of hockey in general. A graduate of SUNY Cortland in Upstate NY, Purcell coaches both a high school hockey team and a travel team in the winter. Purcell is also a part of a small family business in the Central New York Region.