1) I concur with most of the players in the lockerroom. I didn’t think this was a bad game. I thought, in fact, it was their best game in this six-game (1-3-2) streak, especially given the injuries and the fragile state of mind coming off those previous games. Not good enough, but much better.
2) I didn’t think they lacked effort. Yeah, they got scrambly defensively a few times. Yes, they sure made some mistakes. And absolutely, guys like Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik passed up chances to shoot on odd-man breaks (and that speaks to the confidence level, too).
3) Fact is, their fourth line got lit up for two goals, one of those with the third D-pair on the ice, too. I’m not necessarily blaming those guys, because largely they were in position to make those mistakes because of the injuries. That’s a legit excuse. Like it or not.
4) I wonder if Rick Nash skating on his own while the team was in Canada, then taking part in the morning skate, are really positive signs as he recovers from what most certainly is a concussion (when asked point blank yesterday, he didn’t say no, and followed up with “I’m not a doctor.” So, yeah.). But if we know anything about concussions, it’s that we know very little, that every one is so ridiculously different than the next. A guy like Darroll Powe proves that, for sure. He got knocked unconscious and was back in a week. Nash didn’t miss a shift, and he’s been out longer. Who knows what Ryan McDonagh’s injury is, but you’d also have to guess concussion. Michael Sauer came back to practice a bunch of times and never could recover from the workouts. Marc Staal played the rest of the season and playoffs and then had the symptoms in the summer. So every one is very, very different. You just don’t know. So you don’t know about Nash.
6) These injuries are opportunities for some of the kids, opps they might not be getting otherwise. J.T. Miller had some really, really terrific moments, created some stuff, bounced some bodies, looked like he belongs. Also had a few blunders. Chris Kreider was good and bad. Brandon Mashinter had a tough night.
7) The older guys, um. Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards were both better than they’ve been lately. But were both not good enough. Not nearly. Gaborik created some chances for himself, created a few for Carl Hagelin, and for Anton Stralman, who sure played a noticeable game. Still, he’s got to shoot on that 2-on-1 instead of forcing a pass to Richards. Again, is it encouraging that they played better? We’ll see.
8) I did manage a bad joke during the game about that line: Too bad Hagelin’s not from Finland, or you could have had the Finnish-Finished-Can’t Finish line. Relax. It’s a joke.
9) Miller also learned that what is probably not a holding penalty at any other level he’s ever played is a holding penalty in the National Lockout League.
10) That was about as good a crowd as the Rangers have had this year, save for a couple of loudmouth know-nothings. It booed at the proper times, cheered at the proper times, recognized important moments in the game, and made noise without T-shirts being cannon-fired into the stands. (well, the crowd made noise when that happened, too). But for whatever reason, on this night against Winnipeg, the crowed finally seemed to understand what it was watching.
11) Henrik Lundqvist. He’s still not all the way there. You have to love the way he takes responsibility, says that the fourth goal is a “shot I have to stop” and talks about how it’s going to be a tough 24 hours thinking about that one. He, like many others, needs to be better.
12) And while the Rangers still didn’t approach the way they played last year, this was a lot closer than most of their efforts in the last couple of weeks. The jury’s out on whether this group can play that way, and that is very doubtful if Nash and McDonagh, especially, and Michael Del Zotto and Arron Asham, are out long term.
13) Liked what I saw from Steve Eminger, Anton Stralman, even Taylor Pyatt. Eminger’s best game in a long while … of course he hasn’t played many in a long while.
14) Last and certainly not least, how about the Captain on this night? What a remarkable shift that was in the second period, three blocked shots, one of them shattered his stick, two of them throwing his body in front of pucks without a stick, a diving attempted hand-pass clear, and two body checks. Wow. That it took less than a minute for the Jets to score after that, and then that they scored again, was just criminal. And again, last year the Rangers take a shift like that and absolutely run with it, get all charged up, take over a game. This Rangers team came up with a couple of blunders and it cost them the game. Even the second effort on the goal Callahan scored was special.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan Callahan.
2. Carl Hagelin.
3. Anton Stralman.
RangerJHW’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan Callahan.
2. Taylor Pyatt.
3. Anton Stralman.
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan Callahan (29.8 %).
2. Anton Stralman (13.91 %).
3, tie, Taylor Pyatt and Carl Hagelin (7.95 %).
Photos by Getty Images.