Some quick notes before the first MSG matinee of the season.
<li>Petr Prucha is still with the Rangers, at least for now. Although the team did not send the forward to Hartford on a conditioning assignment, Tom Renney referenced a need to talk to both Prucha and his agent about his options.
In other words, there’s a possibility the Rangers want to send Prucha down, and the forward has balked.
We’ll try to find out more later.
Either way, Prucha is a scratch for the 10th straight game. The Rangers are going with the same lineup, including Henrik Lundqvist in net.
<li>Thanks to MSG’s ubiquitous John Giannone (who will be doing play-by-play today in Sam Rosen’s stead) for highlighting this stat: If the NHL ended games after five minutes of overtime and didn’t go to a shootout, the Rangers’ 17-7-2 record would be a substantially less impressive 11-7-8.
Needless to say, this is a relevant topic of late given how the team has blown leads in each of the last two games, only to go on to win in shootouts.
<li>The fun stops after today. After five straight games against teams with sub-.500 records — not an easy thing to do in the watered down shootout-heavy NHL — the Rangers’ next three opponents are a combined 41-21-8.
We’ll chime in with more during the game…
Update, 1:45 p.m.: Gee, you think the Rangers might have mentioned shooting high on Craig Anderson during their pre-game meeting? The team had at least three chances from point blank range in the opening minutes of the game, and all resulted in shots above the crossbar.
Other than that — and one hairy stretch in the middle of the period — it was a fairly sharp start. No goals, of course, which always helps, but enough chances and no serious breakdowns.
Now it’s just a matter of holding on for another 45 minutes so they can steal another one in the shootout.
I’m kidding….sort of.
Update, 2:42 p.m.: And then there was the second period…
Wow. Whatever good vibe the Rangers created both collectively and individually during their recent three-game winning streak evaporated in just a few minutes here.
Where do you start? With Michal Rozsival pinching and Marc Staal falling on the first Florida goal? With Rozsival being pick-pocketed by Michael Frolik on the second? With Brandon Dubinsky completely losing sight of Gregory Campbell on the third?
With Wade Redden showing about as much urgency as a secretary on a lunch break?
Add it all up and you have Panthers 3, Rangers 0.
A comeback is not out of the question when you consider the Panthers aren’t exactly indomitable. It is out of the question if the Rangers continue to play this game as if they’re half asleep.
Update, 3:10 p.m.: Make that 4-0.
So the Rangers have now had two afternoon games this season, and those games have probably been their worst two of the season.