A Tough Night in Chi-Town.
1) Welp, it’s official. Your 2011-2012 Rangers have finally hit a slump. First time this season the Rangers have lost 3 in a row in regulation. It was bound to happen. We all know every team has that one time of the year when nothing is going right and this is ours.
2) But what I think we are all concerned about is the timing of this one. I am a huge Tortorella fan, but I have to disagree with his assessment that this is a good time of the season to hit a losing streak. I don’t want encourage the “chicken littles” or incite gloom-and-doom, but I think this might actually be the worst time to lose. Any way you slice it, a team wants to be playing its best hockey at the end of the season. We need to enter the playoffs confident. Luckily, there’s still time to right this ship and there’s 15 games to catch fire.
3) The Rangers are being too casual clearing the zone lately. The D are getting the puck in the corner with time and space for a clear, but they’re doing so without any authority. We need to not only send that puck out, but send it out hard and fast. Take the icing, it doesn’t matter. Just get the damn thing out of danger.
4) Stu Bickel. Tough game, buddy. He was on the ice for the first Blackhawk goal, as well as the third, which really hurt. On the first, he had the opportunity to get control of the puck as it was being rimmed around to the point. He was unable to do so, and before we knew it the puck was in the back of our net. On the third, he made that errant hand-pass behind the net and boom, in the blink of an eye, Blackhawk goal and that God-awful song “Chelsea Daggar” blaring. I love his willingness to stick up for his teammates, but he hurt us tonight.
5) Ansimov played a strong game. Generating offense and lugging the puck up the ice. This season he has done a better job of keeping his head up when he enters the offensive zone, too. We haven’t seen him get rocked yet crossing the blueline, which he’s usually good for at least twice a year. For such an unassuming Russian, he really let’s it all go when he scores too. Celebrations we haven’t seen since the days of Vinny Prospal, who Torts once said “had the enthusiasm of little kid.” Keep it up Artie, as long as you don’t go shooting up the joint.
7) Speaking of hard work, the Fedotenko-Boyle-Prust line was the Rangers’ best tonight. Banging bodies and grinding in the corners. Nothing pretty, just wearing the other team’s D down like it’s their job. Well, it is their job. Good for Prust getting rewarded with a well-deserved goal. They can’t be our best line, though.
8) I counted 4 scoring chances for Mitchell and 4 missed nets. He couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn tonight. Maybe it was that Chicago wind.
9) Too little, too late from Broadway Brad Richards. He’s underperforming and we need him now. I didn’t notice him tonight other than when he scored the third goal. Well, I didn’t notice him as much as I should notice a former Conn Smythe winner.
10) Last night was the third game in a row where the Rangers have lost the game in the third period. The fatigue and wear-and-tear of the season is setting in, and we’ve been dozing off in those last 20 minutes recently.
11) If Wojtek Wolski had scored in the shootout for the Panthers tonight, the Penguins might have been denied a point, and the Rangers would have some more breathing room right now. Thanks for nothing Wojtek.
12) Lastly, I would like to thank Carp for writing an awesome blog that we all love, and for giving me this opportunity. I would also like to give a big shout-out to all the Ranger fans out there, my good friends and everyone reading this, and most importantly, to “cell phone” boy. Bring on the playoffs.
Follow me on Twitter at @TedSmithMBE for continued Rangers talk.
My three Rangers Stars:
1) Artem Anisimov.
2) Henrik Lundqvist.
3) Ryan McDonagh.
AP photos, above.