1) Wowzer. I don’t even know where to begin. That was just putrid. I thought there was a stretch there in the second period where the Rangers righted themselves a bit, and then they shot themselves in the skate with the Derek Stepan giveaway for a Sidney Crosby (who else?) breakaway … WHILE THE RANGERS HAD TOO MANY MEN ON THE ICE.
2) So let’s get right to that penalty because it was the fourth of the season and the third on the three-game homestand, each of which ended up in a power-play goal, and in this case, the goal that put away the Rangers in a game in which they were lucky to be down just 1-0 entering the third.
3) I have to be honest, I don’t know whose fault it was—since I was kinda watching the Crosby breakaway. I know it wasn’t Stepan because of his cough-up. It wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist. It wasn’t Michael Del Zotto, who was chasing Skid the Kid. Ryan McDonagh, who has become a go-to guy in the lockerroom, who doesn’t sugar coat, who understands what’s what, was asked if not having a preseason was the reason for all the too-many-men penalties (I happened to believe it was in the first week, but not at this point.
McDonagh said, “I don’t think it should matter if there’s preseason or not. It’s simple hockey 101 that we just seem to just not be on the same page or mis-reading our teammate coming off. It shouldn’t be that hard of a play.”
4) Maybe it would have actually been better if the Rangers had just gotten their doors kicked in than hanging around on the scoreboard—I didn’t think Pittsburgh played magnificently—and losing on a penalty like that.
5) That first goal, no doubt Henrik Lundqvist needs to stop it. But goalies who play on their knees as much as Lundqvist does are going to be vulnerable up top. And that was a shot, by Evgeni Malkin, that few in the NHL could execute. It certainly shouldn’t have decided the game, but the Rangers’ offense made it stand up.
6) Or lack of offense. The key words, I thought, in John Tortorella’s presser were “slow” and “dumbfounded.” That was Rick Nash’s worst game as a Ranger. It was Marian Gaborik’s worst game of the season. It was a bad one for Brad Richards. Stepan had those two chances when he went around Malkin, but otherwise did didley. Carl Hagelin, ditto didley. And if you’re expecting offense out of the rest of the forwards—Taylor Pyatt, Brian Boyle, Jeff Halpern, Benn Ferreiro, Mike Rupp, Arron Asham, Stu Bickel—well, don’t hold your breath.
7) I still maintain that last year’s team, with Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Prust, Ruslan Fedotenko and even John Mitchell, would grind out a game like that, at least compete throughout, and often steal a point. This year’s team hasn’t done much of that. I make the Nash trade 100 times out of 100, and even more now that I’ve seen what a complete player he is. I understand that Prust wasn’t worth what he got from Montreal, but he was a much better player than Asham. And I wonder if Fedotenko > Pyatt and Mitchell > Halpern. We will find out.
8) I’ll say this, though. None of these problems would look nearly this bad if Stepan and Hagelin were scoring and Chris Kreider was contributing as a top-nine forward.
9) How good is the Penguins’ PP?
10) At least the Rangers roughed up the Penguins a little bit in this game. Del Zotto is probably facing a suspension for his clean hit on Crosby (sarcasm). I liked the way Dan Girardi bounced him off the boards after the whistle (and I doubt any player in the NHL other than Crosby gets that call), and went at it with Malkin a few times. And Marc Staal took a lot of crap from Malkin before they tangled, and he even said Malkin “tomahawked” him. Anton Stralman hit Crosby hard and clean, and Matt Cooke, that piece of cooke, too.
12) Is Ryan Callahan really that irreplaceable?
13) All my complaining aside, I’m not judging anything on 3-4 after seven—two against Pittsburgh, two against Boston, two against Philly. That’s insane.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Anton Stralman.
2. Dan Girardi.
3. Marc Staal.
Mark Romeo’s Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan McDonagh.
2. Rick Nash.
3. Derek Stepan
Your poll vote for the Three Rangers Stars:
1. tie, Rick Nash and Martin Biron (12.63 %).
2. tie, Anton Stralman, Marc Staal, Henrik Lundqvist (9.47 %).
Photos by Getty Images.