1) With the trade deadline now just three-plus days away, this is more important than the result of that awful game at the Arena That Changes Names Every Five Minutes. With Dan Girardi signed and sealed, Ryan Callahan and his agent insist that signing has nothing to do with Callahan’s situation. I believe that. Alain Vigneault said he is optimistic that something will get done with Callahan’s contract. I don’t know if he knows something or if it’s wishful thinking or if he’s just being consistent in his hope that the captain won’t have to be moved.
2) But, I think there are only two ways that Callahan is still a Ranger on Wednesday, and don’t know if either is likely. First, he can stop trying to beat Glen Sather at poker and get more realistic with his terms and dollars demands. If he goes $6Mx6, or in that money ballpark, I think he re-signs here and stays. I don’t know if he will do that because Callahan is a battler, his agent seems dug in, and he’s probably right that somebody will give him the seventh year and more money July 1. Second, the possibility remains that Sather can’t get satisfactory return for Callahan and simply decides to keep him the rest of the season, leaving open the possibility that if no team does come in with that seventh year on July 1, maybe the Rangers can re-sign him then.
3) Now, onto that horror show in Philly. Hey, you’re not going to win every night. There will be losses, probably worse than this, to worse opponents, these final 21 games. But this one was a bad one because the Rangers really kicked it away with a bunch of horrific defensive plays, really. I thought the Rangers started well, had two terrible plays result in goals, recovered from that, took over the game for a long time, got it tied, then had a couple more gifts for the Flyers. Shoulda/coulda been a win. Rangers threw it away.
4) And, oh yeah, the Rangers looked kinda soft again, as they did early in the season. The Flyers pummeled the Rangers’ skill players a bit, and when they crossed the line, the Rangers’ suddenly ice-cold power play failed to make the Flyers pay. Could have been a different game with a PPG or two early.
6) The 2-0 goal, Chris Kreider was guilty of as bad a defensive effort as you can see in an NHL game, after he was supposed to be covering for Dan Girardi, who had pinched.
7) Going back to the fourth line, I thought Alain Vigneault might go with both Daniel Carcillo and Derek Dorsett in the lineup for Philly, and perhaps for Boston tonight—two physical opponents. But by removing Dominic Moore, the fourth line wasn’t nearly as effective, and at least on the 1-0 goal, it looked bad. And that line cannot be bad defensively if the first two lines are also going to be poor defensively … and they are.
8) Also, as was the case in a lot of the team’s struggles this season, some of the Rangers’ top players need to be a lot better, and that includes Brad Richards (nice play on the power-play goal by Derick Brassard notwithstanding), Derek Stepan (invisible almost the entire day), Brassard (who wasn’t terrible but took two mindless penalties), Kreider (who scored a beauty of a goal from Rick Nash, missed a wide-open net, took a penalty and had that woeful defensive play). And, yeah, you might as well thrown Callahan and Carl Hagelin into that group that needs to be better.
9) The Daily Nash-O-Meter. I thought Nash was very good again. I really did. The guy looks re-energized. And, it seems to me without looking it up, he’s really played some strong games against Philly in his brief time as a Ranger.
10) Henrik Lundqvist. Granted, he had no chance in the first two goals, and a bunch of bad plays in front of him (including Dorsett’s penalty and a weak effort by Stralman in the corner, preceeded the Wayne Simmonds PPG. But a five-hole goal from an angle just isn’t ever a good one. And he wasn’t spectacular on the fourth … and as if we needed to point to another goof-up, how about Carl Hagelin turning to get out of the way of the shot. He should thank God that Torts isn’t around anymore.
11) Ryan McMonster. I said it during the game. I hate to ever compare people to Brian Leetch, and McDonagh certainly isn’t in that category offensively. But he sure reminds me of No. 2 when he makes some of those calm plays under pressure, moves the puck to a safe place before being squished, or side-steps an opponent, then moves it. Just great stuff.
12) I wonder if Alain Vigneault makes some changes tonight vs. Boston. Lundqvist, it seems, will start in goal. The coach—who usually doesn’t change lines or defense pairs—moved Kevin Klein into the second pair with Marc Staal during the game. I wonder if he won’t go back to Dominic Moore tonight. And if he will keep both Carcillo and Dorsett in the lineup … or if it would be J.T. Miller who comes out, not that he did anything to warrant being scratched.
13) Carcillo vs. Zac Rinaldo was kinda fun, though I didn’t think either should have gotten a misconduct for their little get together. Two and two at most, IMO. Afterwards Rinaldo said that not only had he never played with Carcillo, he never played against him.
14) Not related, but that Stadium Series game in Soldier Field—wow. The ice conditions were such, IMO, that the integrity of the game was compromised, and that really shouldn’t ever happen. I also thought, too bad they never had one of these games at Yankee Stadium … you know, the real one.
15) Can’t wait to hear the real, whole story of what’s going on in that clown show up in Buffalo. They hire Pat LaFontaine, who hires a GM and a coach, then the GM makes all these huge trades, doesn’t remove the “interim” title from the coach, and LaFontaine resigns. What in holy hell?
16) I still expect something major to happen around MSG on Wednesday, if not sooner.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan McDonagh.
2. Dan Girardi.
3. Rick Nash.
Kenny Albert’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. Dan Girardi.
2. Daniel Carcillo.
3. Brad Richards.
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Tie, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh.
3. Derick Brassard.
Photos by Getty Images.