This was like taking four punches. Ugh, ouch, ooof, ouch. The Rangers lost, Buffalo won, Montreal won, Carolina won.
The Rangers need to get some stuff fixed, need to find some of the things they haven’t been doing lately, some of the things they did the first 52 games, and to do them with an edge. Because that edge is not what it was. It isn’t. They’re still physical, just not all the time, and just not as aggressively physical.
1) Dan Girardi. Geez. What happened? Had a woeful game vs. Tampa Bay Sunday. Another last night. That play on the PPG from the point, where he ran way out of position, left a man wide open in Henrik Lundqvist’s face, then deflected the puck past Lundqvist while skating in a panic back to his position, my gosh. Mike Milbury called him on it on Versus. You never would have heard that on the Rangers’ home network.
2) To be fair to Girardi, obviously part of the reason he ran out of position is the Rangers’ strategy on the PK. They want to force the issue. But you have to draw a line on how far you want to force it, and how much risk you want to bite off. And it seems, after all these games, that it is by design that they let the opposing forwards without the puck get in behind them, and in front of the goalie. That, I don’t get at all.
3) Brandon Dubinsky finally found his gas pedal in the third period. He hadn’t stepped on the accelerator in a few games. It’s no secret, and he said it himself over and over while he was the team MVP in the firts half—he has to move his feet. And he hadn’t been.
4) Wojtek Wolski and the offensive-zone penalties, whether you think the right calls are being made or not, have to stop.
5) Hate to say this, and I hope it’s because of his knee, but Vinny Prospal is a step behind and looking very much like the captain did before he went out of the lineup with his bum knee. Because if this is all Prospal has, the end is near for a good guy, great teammate, who really cares.
6) Ryan Callahan=well, you know. And that goes double for rookie D Ryan McMonster. You know who was the second-best D-man in this game, behind McMonster? Matt Gilroy, that’s who.
7) Versus was much better than usual. Maybe they’re using a new production crew or something. Or maybe they used MSG’s crew. But there were replays and more awareness in the booth, and that was a pleasant surprise.
8) Having said that, what’s the point of having access to a coach on the bench during the game, for gosh sakes, as Brian Engblom did, and then asking about a trade that was made two days earlier, a question that could have been asked at the morning skate, or pre-game?
9) Did you stay tuned for the show after the game, the special on the Rangers of the 1990s. Pretty cool. Except when they did the extended portion on the ‘94 Cup final, they didn’t bother to mention Pavel Bure’s penalty shot.
10) Back to the game. Prospal made that bad play on the third goal, but that was Bryan McCabe’s man who scored it.
11) Speaking of McCabe, who was surely a weapon on the power play, I’m not sure I like so many point shots during the 4-on-3, with all that room.
12) Still 34 points up for grabs. I still think they make it. That Gaborik and Staal and Fedotenko will be back, and they will eventually have a little roll, and that will be more than enough. But all bets are off if Henrik Lundvqist isn’t sharper than he’s been—he didn’t allow a bad goal last night, but looked shaky—and the bets are definitely off if he gets dinged up, even a little.
13) Trade everybody! Oh, wait, that ship has sailed.
14) That guy Stafford on Buffalo—whenever I hear his name I think of George Costanza’s story about the voluptuous home room teacher.
AP photo, above.
Just wondering … I’m going to be extremely busy while the Rangers play three games in four days starting Thursday. Anybody interested in doing a game review for one of those games? If so, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.