The New York Rangers keep finding different ways to keep their opponents in games and the wins can’t hide the mistakes made by this club.
The New York Rangers went into Winnipeg, Canada on Sunday afternoon and found a way to get a 3-1 win over the playoff-bound Winnipeg Jets. Don’t let the “W” fool you as the Rangers were quite lucky to leave Manitoba with two points.
As usual, the Rangers had trouble right off of the opening face-off. Just 24 seconds into the game the Jets Tyler Myers scored off a blast to give the Jets an apparent 1-0 lead. The goal was the result of another turnover this time by J.T. Miller. Lucky for the Rangers the play was review and determined to be offside so the goal was disallowed. Then 52 seconds after the offside call, it did cost them as the Jets Nikolaj Ehlers scored to give the Jets a 1-0 lead. As has been the case this season, the team didn’t come prepared to play and it almost cost them an early goal in this contest as it has in so many times in previous games. The turnovers have been the main focus all too many times this year.
Mats Zuccarello scored the equalizer with a little over four minutes remaining in the first period. It was Zuccarello’s first goal in the last 22 games.
The only constant for the team has been in net unless you listen to head coach Alain Vigneault who believes his goaltenders need to play better. What he really means is Henrik Lundqvist needs to play better since Ondrej Pavelec has only appeared in the 16 games this season with a 4-7-1 record.
Henrik Lundqvist has not given up on his team or on the season. Without some incredible saves in the game, the game would have been over before the third period began. Henrik went on to make 37 saves on 38 shots picking up his 23rd win of the year.
The Rangers continue to search for scoring. A problem all season long, the Rangers have scored four goals or more only four times in the last 20 games. Sunday’s game showed the struggle as the Rangers scored only three goals, Zuccarello’s shot that barely squeezed past the Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck, Jimmy Vesey’s game-winner that luckily deflected off his chest as Brady Skjei’s initial shot was going well wide of the net, and Michael Grabner’s empty-net goal, his 23rd of the season.
Still, this almost wasn’t enough as the Jets had their second goal of the game disallowed late in the third period as a goal scored by Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was deemed a high stick and disallowed.
Yes, it’s wonderful to see the team win a road game in a tough building, but don’t let the win fool you. The damage is done, the Rangers have already told the league and the fanbase that changes are coming. The important part is that the Rangers, due to an underachieving Metro division, still have a shot at postseason play. Should that opportunity still exist once the trade deadline passes, maybe the team can find an identity with its youth and vigor to get some playoff experience. Maybe.
The trade deadline is less than two weeks away, Feb.26, and though the Rangers haven’t made any trades so far, the rumors of other players moving around could affect Rangers transactions.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun tweeted on Monday that the Ottawa Senators are looking to move Derick Brassard. The asking price is on par with what the Rangers are supposedly asking for Rick Nash: A first-round pick, a top prospect, and a comparable player/pick. Brassard’s numbers this season are quite similar to Nash’s, so it should be interesting to see if both Ottawa and the Rangers get what they are looking for.
Senators talking to teams about Derick Brassard; price is believed to be a 1st RD pick, top prospect plus 3rd piece. Brassard has another year left on his deal next season at $5 M aav although it's $3.5 M in real cash
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 12, 2018
Another big name rumored to be on the trade block is Las Vegas Golden Knights forward James Neal. Neal is a UFA, who has already surpassed his goal production from last season. The Neal deal won’t help the Rangers, but it could hurt them with regards to the return the Rangers might get back in a deal for their UFA’s.
For now, it’s a cat and mouse game as the league waits to see who makes the first move.