Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Rangers' Case of The Breakdown Blues Leads To Another Dreary Home Loss | STL 4 NYR 3

Apparently, the Rangers missed the class about exploiting home ice advantage. Instead of playing like a well-oiled machine, the Rangers again resembled a jalopy made out of spare junkyard parts, subjecting their fans to another distressing display of failures by special teams, a lack of discipline in the defensive end, an absence of aggressiveness, an inability to score, and worst of all, the yielding of critical goals in the 3rd period.

The beneficiaries of the Rangers' continuing largess were the St. Louis Blues who were making their first visit to MSG in 3 seasons. Perhaps they are the only team with a worse record at MSG than the Rangers -- 10-44-7 over the years. But, of course, they came to the Garden with a 4-0-1 record over the last 5.

Like the Rangers, the Blues are outside the playoff bracket and trying to make a run for the final berth in their conference. Based on both team's performances, neither team deserves to make the playoffs and hockey purists should want it that way.

Former MSG President, Dave Checketts, who attended the game, and John Davidson, former goalie and announcer, must have left happy to be in America’s Heartland instead of NYC after witnessing firsthand, and benefiting from, another dreary home loss by the Rangers as they gave away the game in the final period yet again as the Blues tallied a goal midway through the final period -- and 73 seconds after the Rangers had scored to tie the game -- to snatch the win and deprive the Rangers of a single point. Official recap is here.

Scoring Anomalies. Michael Weaver scored for the first time in 184 games while Paul Kariya's game winning goal was the 400th of his career. Also, Wade Redden scored his 2nd goal of the season to tie the game at 3 in the third period for 73 seconds.

Neither goalie, the Rangers Henrik Lundqvist or St. Louis’ Ty Conklin, acquitted himself well. Henrik quickly yielded a goal in the first 2 minutes on a shot by Brad Boyes. It seemed to shock the Garden faithful that it went in.

The Rangers did recover and started to gain a territorial edge brought on by the efforts of Sean Avery. Perhaps he has realized that refs are giving him some more slack because during the first period, he drew a pair of penalties and brought a lot of energy to the team. The Rangers scored 2 goals on Callahan's tip-in of a Olli Jokinen slapshot from the center of the blue line during a power play and then later by Marian Gaborik.

As usual, the team and coaches relied on Henrik to keep the Rangers in the game. They certainly did not help him defensively. While perhaps picking a bad night to have a bad game, the offense failed to bail him out. For several segments of the game, it appeared that he was the last man standing to protect Ranger playoff prospects.

Henrik was called on to make some fabulous saves including 2 breakaways during one Rangers power play. But he let in 2 soft goals (stopping only 12 of 16 shots) that the team could not recover from and was victimized by several giveaways and terrible positioning by the defense throughout the game.

Henrik admitted earlier in the week that he does not feel confident and the Rangers' biggest problem is inconsistency -- "A big part of it is mental preparation and how much you want it.

Not on the same page. Ryan Callahan was guilty of holding on to the puck for too long in several key situations as the offense simply failed to pull the trigger at the right time. 2 of the Ranger goals came from shots on the point – something the Rangers failed to do at all during a critical 1:37 two man advantage in which they mustered only one shot.

Meanwhile, the Rangers, who outshot the Blues 29-16, did not put enough pressure on Conklin, who was awful. The netminder lost his footing several times and panicked when there were bodies around the crease. However, even though the Rangers created traffic in front of the net, they did not take enough shots to take advantage.

The signature sequences of the game was the 2 man advantage that the Blueshirts squandered for 1:37 in the second period. On back to back plays in the first 43 seconds of the period, the Blues shot the puck out of their defensive zone into the stands for delay of game penalties.

The Rangers proceeded to waste an opportunity to extend their 2-1 lead and maintain the momentum they had developed. They served up perhaps the worst display of power play ineptitude of the season (or at least since Kotalik was traded) as the Rangers simply refused to shoot, they bunched up in front of the goal so that the 3 St. Louis defenders did not have to move, and just passed the puck around without purpose.

Everyone was to blame for the power play futility and the overall game -- including the coaches, who apparently have not worked on positioning or reminding the players to shoot -- unless the players are deciding to tank it to stick it to the coaches (again). Callahan and Jokinen were terrible and ineffective all night long. Gaborik had 3 points (a goal and 2 assists) but he was invisible on that fateful power play.

Home Sweet Home. The Rangers' play at home (and
propensity of losing games in the 3rd period) has left their
playoff hopes close to ruins. It also does not give fans
confidence that making the playoffs will change anything.
It was not surprising to see the Blues take advantage of the Rangers' failure by scoring 2 goals in the second period both from defensemen (Weaver and Erik Johnson) to take a 3-2 lead into the 3rd period.

Unlike the Rangers, the Blues did exactly what was needed to win the game. A minute after Wade Redden tied the score with a slapshot with 7 1/2 minutes gone in the 3rd, T.J. Oshie picked up the puck in the Ranger zone, rushed up ice, and after coming down the right side, he watched Paul Kariya totally outskate Callahan down the center lane and then saw Dan Girardi skate to his left joining the other 4 Ranger skaters on one side of the ice, thus leaving Kariya all alone to flip Oshie's crossing pass into the goal past Henrik for the winner.

Seeing all 5 Ranger skaters on one side of the ice was indicative of the terrible defensive positioning the Rangers have been guilty of for several games going back to the 5-4 OT loss at home (where else) to Pittsburgh.

The Rangers go on the road for several games which is a blessing since they are 2 games under .500 at home. Their next game is in Boston to play the struggling Bruins for a battle to be cannon fodder for the Capitals. The NBC national t.v. audience may see a good game but this is not a premiere match-up for sure.

Schedule-wise, after the Bruins contest, the Rangers have 2 games with the Isles, a game with the Devils and the Leaf -- theoretically, all winnable games that could vault the team into the 8th slot heading into the final slot. Unfortunately, Atlanta, left for dead after the Rangers beat them, has gotten hot and caught the Rangers in the 9th spot.

I'd rather watch Avatar again. For the Rangers/Islander game on March 24, the Rangers will have a viewing party at WAMU Theater to watch the game in 3-D. Meanwhile, the game itself will be live upstairs in the Garden. 3-D glasses will not give a one-dimensional team any more depth or make them more watchable.

Perhaps Rangers management could try giving something useful to fans
who have the courage to attend a home game. Here's a hint:

--- The Graying Mantis


  1. Again Tony...terrific post on a terrible game, but you were spot-on with your selection of pictures --- very mood inspiring!!!



This site/blog is not affiliated with the New York Rangers or The National Hockey League in any manner whatsoever. Some photos on this site are used w/out permission but are hosted on the blogger server, therefore not interfering with the profit or bandwidth of the original owner. If you are the owner of a specific image that we have used in our blog , please email me at to have it removed - we will gladly remove it immediately.

If you have a hockey blog/website and would like to place a link on our site, please contact me & we can do a link exchange (the best way to get more traffic to our blogs).

Any offer of 'tickets at cost' is exactly that -- I have season tickets and will sell them for what I paid --- so no mark-ups.

The Dark Ranger is a not-for-profit site, not officially, but we derive no income at all from anything on this site; in fact, DARK at his own expense enjoys the freedom of having no sponsors and speaking his f*cking mind.