This one was bad. The Rangers played a stinker. Again, you can’t argue with the effort, but there were errors in all three zones.
So home they go with one goal and a single point in two games in Florida.
2) In my opinion, the Rangers’ defensemen, 1 through 7, are awful against the 2-on-1, with that sliding attempt to stop the pass instead of taking away the pass and allowing the goalie to handle the shooter. You know, like it says in Hockey 101.
3) The Rangers really need to re-assess whether it’s worth it to block all these shots, and the way they do it. I know, they’re trying to build an identity and that’s part of it, and I know the idea is to “get big” in front of shots. But the other way to do it is to get closer to the shooter and go in standing up, where most of the blocks will hit the shinpads and thighpads (or cup … gulp). When you’re that far away, and going to a knee to get big, that puck can hit you anywhere, and with the sheer number of shots the Rangers block, there are going to be more injuries. Book that. So the other side is maybe you don’t block so many shots and your goalie has to make an occasional extra save on a 40-footer. The other flip side is that, when you block a shot standing up, sometimes you get a breakway out of it instead of a broken hand.
4) Michael Del Zotto … as I thought might happen after four straight pruchas, looked even more tentative. I don’t know that a one-game scratch would have had a different effect. Or if four was the right number, or what. And I don’t know if the scratchings will have a positive effect next week or next month or next season. All I know, or suspect, is that it could cause him to question his instincts and be afraid to make a great play, and in fact worried every time he handles the puck.
5) Meanwhile, Michal Rozsival, playing the right point, deflected two consecutive PP passes out of the offensive zone. And you never hear a bad word about him. He did make that spinning, odd-looking break-up of a three-on-one in front in the third period, though.
6) Shouldn’t the referees have stopped the game and declared the Panthers the winners when Christopher Higgins scored.
7) Hey, what were the Panthers doing wearing the Penguins’ Winter Classic jerseys?
8) Ruslan Fedotenko is only day to day, but until he gets back, I really think they ought to give Sean Avery a shot at Fedotenko’s minutes, and not Chris Drury.
9) I blame the captain—maybe not completely because Brandon Dubinsky fouled it up too, but surely in part—on the 1-0 PPG. He was fishing for the puck and helped David Booth get completely wide open in the slot as Steve Eminger was bowling over his man on top of Martin Biron.
10) Biron may actually be better than Lundqvist on certain shots—from bad angles, and back-handers up high.
11) One thing I never understood: Why in the world would a goalie put the net back on its pegs after it’s been knocked off? A goal can’t be scored if it’s off, and there’s no rule that says it’s up to the goalie to put it back on. Nothing bad can happen if you’re the goalie and you leave it off the pegs. Simple, right?
AP photo, above.