1) Men vs. Boys. I am not 100 percent convinced the Rangers lost this game because of the way they were manhandled by the Bruins, but they were manhandled, and I am pretty certain that any best-of-seven series against a team like that is going to look like the five-gamer last spring … or worse. Despite that, they could have won this game with a slightly better effort, or if they’d gotten something out some of the many who did very little. And I’m not saying the guys on the ice are too soft or meek, I’m just saying that they don’t have the physical weapons. The Rangers, as constituted, will never be difficult for bigger teams to play. Whose fault is that?
2) Because they were menaced, especially guys like Ryan McDonagh, by Milan Lucic and Scott Thornton and even Brad Marchand, in this game. They were pummeled by Chara (give Brian Boyle credit for standing in there, because he can’t fight and he knows it). Heck, the Rangers didn’t have a guy in the lineup as tough as Gregory Campbell. This issue isn’t going away. There’s not a tough guy who could be put into this lineup and change all of that. There is not a quick fix to what’s lacking in that department. Two years ago, that was this team’s forte. What’s the opposite of forte?
3) Again, the Rangers could have won this game. The last time they played Boston, the Rangers were the better team because their speed caused the Bruins to make mistakes and turn over the puck in bad spots. That speed was negated to a large degree yesterday, and some of that was the Bruins’ physical play. Some of it also was the Bruins’ neutral-zone play and d-zone play. Meaning, their skill.
4) Meanwhile, many of the Rangers’ best players were nightmares in their own end and coming through the neutral zone (especially on the power play). Rick Nash and Brad Richards were awful defensively, even if Nash made that lucky skate stop while playing defense. The Rangers forwards MUST be better, especially since their D-men do so much pinching. That support can’t be so soft and/or clueless. Richards, IMO, played one of his worst games of the season. Scary bad.
5) He wasn’t alone. I thought Marc Staal struggled terribly. Ryan McDonagh was good in spots, and not-so-good in others, while he and partner Dan Girardi were hammered at every turn. Girardi had a tough day in spots, too. Anton Stralman wasn’t bad, but he got rag-dolled by Lucic on the GWG.
6) Henrik Lundqvist. First goal, no chance. Just a great pass by Chara and a one-time rocket by Marchand, though the Rangers can’t allow that pass to go through the zone that easily. Second goal, deflection in off Girardi, can’t blame him. Third goal, even though it’s Chara and the hardest shot in the league, well, that’s a save he needs. Really tough save and if he makes it it’s a great save. But his team has to have it.
7) Nash. Great individual effort on the goal. Tremendous work, and shot. You forgive his defensive deficiencies to a degree if he gives you that offense.
8) But a lot of other offensive players really didn’t do much at all. Derick Brassard was probably the best of them. Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Ryan Callahan, Carl Hagelin and to a lesser degree Mats Zuccarello, have to step up offensively. Have to. Again, maybe some of them were just overmatched physically? Or is this team’s skill really that thin?
9) Could NBC have possibly been worse? It spends a fortune on ads promoting this game for weeks, then gives zero pre-game, and in that first period there was so obviously a fracas breaking out, linesmen scurrying across the ice after a whistle, but NBC couldn’t get to its Black Friday ads quickly enough. Pay attention, dammit. Then, after showing a whole string of ads, instead of showing the ref explaining the penalties to Claude Julien, how about showing a replay of the fracas? How about showing what started it, how it transpired. Nothing. Awful. Embarrassing. But, hey, it’s a rivalry game. Why? Because they can sell that load of crap to a sponsor, that’s why.
10) Today is going to be interesting at the transformed Garden, with the two coaches of their former transformed teams. I thought if the Rangers had won today, it would definitely be an anti-Torts crowd. I still think he will be booed by a decent amount of the crowd there (some won’t have any idea who he is or was). Booing always drowns out cheering anyway, and people who boo are usually more emotionally invested in their opinion on a subject than those who cheer.
11) I think this game will have a load of significance for Alain Vigneault, too. Let’s not forget how he was given the boot after all that success up there in Vancouver.
12) And while I think there are a lot of folks who don’t like John Tortorella just because they don’t like him, there are also plenty who don’t like him for legitimate reasons. He sure did enough wrong in his time here, despite the fairy-tale 2011-12 season. But whatever you think of him, I’ll tell you one thing: If players really did go crying to Glen Sather that the coach was too tough for them last spring—and they would know who they are—today would be a good day to start showing up on a consistent basis for Tortorella’s replacement.
14) How many of those point shots, those uncontested three-pointers, would have gotten through last season?
15) So the trip goes 3-2, and after losing three of the previous four before the trip, I’d bet a lot of you would have signed for that. Still, I think the Rangers were outplayed in three of the games. You could probably argue three-plus.
16) Boston’s is another arena guilty of treating its customers like idiots. For one thing, they show no highlights or goals from the opponent between periods. So, though it was 2-1 Rangers, the second intermission highlights had it 1-0 Boston. Also, how about announcing the goals and penalties in a timely manner? How difficult is that? Why would you announce a penalty after 1:10 of it has already been killed off? Guess Boston is another one of those small markets like Sunrise.
1. Marc Staal: whether it’s the eye, the brain trauma, or both, No. 18 is having a really bad season. Some games he isn’t so bad, but today’s game wasn’t one of them. He flat out stunk. And not just on the giveaway leading to their GWG. He is a shell of his former self.
2. Ritchie Rocket: good lord is this guy lousy. The NBC up high camera kept catching Richards, in his own end, standing still, barely shuffling his feet, looking around like he’d not a care in the world. Offensively, several no look passes to no teammate and that back hand wave of his needs to be retired.
3. Danny “own goal” Girardi: He scored another. Another non-quality performance from the D but at least the other five guys didn’t score for the Bruins.
Three positive stars: Brassard, Nash, Dom Moore.
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Rick Nash.
2. Derick Brassard.
3. Anton Stralman.
Photos by Getty Images.