I think a lot of credit needs to be given to the Ottawa Senators, who have played very well despite a slew of injuries and continued that trend tonight. They have enough young talent to step in and play a competitive game.
Of course, the Rangers still have superior talent and should be on the right end of a result at home against a young, injured team like this. Still, I don't think the Rangers played terribly by any means. They just made a few more mistakes than their opponent, and Ottawa made sure to make the Rangers pay. The winning streak was bound to end some time. Now the Rangers need to start a new one instead of continuing on the course they've taken for much of this season; following winning streaks with an equal and opposite losing streak. Let's look at some post-game thoughts.
Ryan McDonagh: We'll start with the positives and work our way down. I thought McDonagh played one of his best games in a while tonight. He made a hideous turnover in the first few minutes of the game, but otherwise did just about everything right. He was positionally sound, blocked his fair share of shots (4) and threw the body around (4 hits). I also loved the way he was rushing up the ice with the puck. For whatever reason the Rangers haven't been getting as much offense from the point as they're capable of. McDonagh put in a much better effort tonight in both ends of the ice.
Brad Richards: A solid return for Brad. Six shots on goal from him, including a nice wrist shot off of a Hagelin feed to tie the game at 2-2. The Rangers absolutely need Richards to play to his potential in order to make a deep playoff run. Hopefully he can get into a groove.
Carl Hagelin: Hags is becoming the model of consistency. It seems that he's making his mark offensively in virtually every game this season. Tonight, he burst down the left wing enough to draw the defenseman to him, dropped the puck off for a trailing Richards, who had plenty of room to get a shot off thanks to Hagelin, and Richards put it home. Hagelin is developing into a poor man's Tony Amonte. Speed in itself is meaningless if one does not know how to utilize it (just ask Enver Lisin). Hagelin has learned how to use his speed to create space for not only himself but his teammates.
Micheal Haley: The most popular justification for keeping Stu Bickel in the lineup tonight over Boyle was that we needed a physical player capable of fighting to match Neil and the rest of Ottawa. I can't recall anything that Bickel did of note, but Haley had probably his best game as a Ranger, creating some energy with a hit (that was called a charge) and throwing down with Chris Phillips. Whenever Asham is healthy I sincerely hope Micheal Haley is given an extended stay in favor of Bickel. Haley can skate decently, is solid on the forecheck, and has scored a handful of goals at the NHL level.
Defense From Forwards: Some mistakes were made by defensemen, but all three goals can be more or less attributed to lazy, or at least bad decision making, by the Rangers forwards. Ottawa's first goal of the game came when Derek Stepan completely lost Zack Smith in the high slot. The second goal was from defenseman Patrick Wiercioch, who had all the time in the world to wind up and pick his spot. The third goal was the result of a rebound from an Eric Gryba point shot where he, again, was afforded plenty of time at the point. The Rangers' eagerness to collapse in the slot and block shots is great and can be a big help to Henrik Lundqvist, but there also needs to be a measure of pressure from the wingers on the point men. Otherwise, if you give the opposition enough unmolested opportunities from the point then a few will inevitably get passed the wall of skaters and go in the net or pop out for a rebound. The consequences of not doing so were lethal tonight.
Marian Gaborik: He's the best shooter on the team, yet he only had two shots tonight; even with two powerplays. That wasn't the result of any tactical brilliance from Ottawa. He just was not getting open tonight. OT goal aside last night, Gabby is in the middle of a slump, and we can't afford constant inconsistencies from our top players. We lost depth in the offseason. That's not at all a problem... if we get what we need from our best forwards. Especially with Richards coming back from injury and trying to rediscover his game, Gaborik simply needs to be better.
In sum, not a poor performance from the Rangers. But not even close to the complete 60 minute effort we saw last night. Against a hard working team like Ottawa, only putting the bike into top gear for stretches of the game is going to lead to failure more often than not. Maybe a second game in two nights had something to do with it. A single loss after four straight wins is not the end of the world. But now comes an important part of the season for the Rangers as they go on a road-trip. Time to put together another winning streak instead of continuing this see-saw of winning and losing.
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The strategy that earned them a win on Long Island (using only the top 2 lines) probably cost them a win against Ottawa as they appeared to run out of gas in the 3rd, add to that Torts breaking up his best line, yes Richards did score on a great shot, and his line was responsible for both goals but in general the line was better with Stephan centering it. Why the coach beaks up his lines when they are starting to build some chemistry is beyond me
Agreed. They played the first 50 of 60 minutes, then flatlined. RT %s ICYMI, TheNYRBlog recap: %sH%sNYR
@TheNYRBlog hey Kev are rangers capped out after signing Hamrlik? I guess if we are it would impossible to bring back Zuc?
@TheNYRBlog they just won 4 out of 5. With that said, Gabby needs to improve, MacD needs to sharpen up his game, & Torts needs to improve.
they've been coddled the schedule. that's over. tonight was a loss at the right time. they're headed out on the road, coming off of a defeat with the end of a win streak. its a recipe for team building chemistry if you ask me. there is an opportunity here to be grabbed by coaches and team leaders.
@IcyCup yea no easy task this road trip, and finishing up at Pittsburgh which is going to be a near impossible task :(
Rough second half of the 3rd, other than that and the 1st few mins I thought the rangers were the better team. step game close twice and DZ hit the post...all three coulda been goals. Just gotta move on and hope they dont start loosing again.
@ChrisP you and every other rangers fan... disappointment...
I used to love Torts but I've been questioning a lot of his decisions recently. We're getting no scoring from our third and fourth lines and taking Boyle out and leaving Haley and Bickel in isn't going to help. Why take Stepan off the line with Nash and Hagelin when they've been playing unbelievable recently? I know Torts played all four lines tonight but continually playing 5 defenseman isn't going to help this team in the playoffs. And Del Zotto has to do a better job on that third goal he left Silfverberg all alone there. Lastly, what about moving Miller up to the second line and Gaborik down?
@clarkeybabes You people criticize him way to much. These are pros who know how to play hockey and have been playing with different line-mates their whole lives from peewee to the pros. They should know how to play together without having to spend and entire season on the same line, especially considering torts plays a simple grind it out, north-south style. He has won a stanley cup and has couched the hell out of our team getting everyone to buy into a team oriented style and winning lots of games in the process... just last game he out coached the islanders, but this game he is being questioned for his decisions. No surprise as people will always question something if it doesn't work. I think he has earned some respect as he has been the best coach we have had in a long long time. Just my opinion.
Blame MDZ all you'd like but Captain Cally shares a big part of the blame on that 3rd goal. Still on the ice long after his linemates made their change, he was all over the place trying to block shots which left the Ottawa point man wide open for the shot that yielded the rebound to Silferberg. Cally's my hero but this was one of his worst games this season. He seemed tentative with the puck, lost board battles he usually wins and his defensive zone play led to the gamewinner.
@clarkeybabes because he does not appreciate the value of chemistry....
Anyone know the last time the 3rd or 4th line got a goal? Just wondering if anyone remembered the exact game?
Stepan buries one of his three chances early in the third, or Del Zotto doesn't ring his open net chance off the post and it's a different game tonight.
@TheWrage what a pass by Miller, unbelievable he saw him trailing there
@slapshot13j Not bad for a 19 year old with a handful of NHL experience, eh?
The slow start to the season has left the Rangers with little margin for error...should've got at least a point at home......Winn. won and Ottawa beat us so this game hurts....Gotta rebound on Sunday against the caps......This road trip is huge.....LGR
@Dudeinski need to get at least 5 of the 8 points on this road trip... in my opinion for it to be successful.
@Dudeinski yeah...I hear you. BUT... after last year... Just get in. That's the key. They finished first in the conference and went to the wall against jobbers. Just get in.
Was also shocked to see Step not able to bury his chances tonight. Maybe the Rangers should have traded him for O'Reilly. ;)
@KevinDeLury I would love to see him with Nash, being from the same country doesnt mean chemistry, Stepan has twice the chemistry with Nash then Richards has shown with him all year
And if you're not feeling bad enough after the loss, Kreider was pointless and a -1 tonight for the Whale.
@KevinDeLury Was he on ice for the empty netter? just curious cause I know they had one.
@CareyBrandsdorfer That I don't know, if he was I guess I'd have to retract some of my statement,
Nah- I think he learned not to shoot from Torts - fear of a mistake putting you on the bench does that sometimes.
@KevinDeLury He wasn't, just checked.
@KevinDeLury he cant have a goal every night, I want to look at the overall stats at the beginning of april, and see if he is worth bringing up... Our third line cant buy a goal.... we need some scoring depth ASAP
@slapshot13j Not looking for him to score every night but pointless with just two shots and a -1 isn't what I'm looking for.
@TheNYRBlog stop we shit the bed
@MrRanger94 Agreed, but I'm not in the full panic mood I was in earlier this season when they lost.
@TheNYRBlog let's be honest , if Nash doesn't make an absurd tip in - we drop 2 straight - Del Zotto let winner get banged & step blew gm
@TheNYRBlog torts is a problem as much as he is a leader \/ this tripod , behind the net hockey is disgusting 2 watch...
@MrRanger94 Agree that he can't be relied on but he's been good with Nash. Hate that Torts broke that line up tonight.
@TheNYRBlog Stepan - playing better but unreliable
@MrRanger94 Who? Nash?
@TheNYRBlog why he's not elite
@MrRanger94 But he did make the tip so you can't criticize it. Yeah, Step couldn't score on an empty net tonight.