1) That three-arena ceremony, with the anthems live by the great Lyndon Slewidge in Ottawa was just fabulous and perfect. Wow. Goosebumps. Tears.
2) Finally, the Rangers had some forecheck in the first period. Some dump-and-pressure. It didn’t last.
3) But for eight games now, the defensemen have not been good at getting the puck up to the forwards. And in this game in particular, they were soft and weak around their own net, especially Marc Staal, who has had more bad games than good so far. Starting to hear the “Should have kept Anton Stralman” stuff. Well, I don’t disagree (though they couldn’t afford him). But if they had Stralman last night, they lose 3-1. Kevin Klein in Stralman’s spot was fine. Hunwick in Klein’s spot was fine.
4) Faecoffs. This has become a major problem. Rangers were 8 for 28 on draws in the first. You almost have to try to be that bad; 32-41 for the game. The Habs had no problem icing the puck at the first hint of trouble, because they win all the draws. They also block a ton of shots, like the ’11-12 Rangers. But the Rangers are going to make it easy for opponents if they don’t figure out the concentration and battle level needed to win draws. It really is that more than technique, IMO. The center has to concentrate, and the wingers have to battle. Derick Brassard seems to have it figured out (66.7 percent wins the last three games), partly because his linemates battle.
5) The Rangers had that dogs breakfast power play to start and that’s where the problems began. Gave the Habs an instant lift in a kind of flat first period. Chris Mueller loses opening draw, puck goes 200 feet. And continued to go 200 feet. That one was every bit as bad as the one that allowed the 2-on-none short-handed goal to the Diver, Plekanec. Mueller took the blame for putting that puck in a bad spot, and he did. But what a horrible gamble by Ryan McDonagh. We said at times over the last several seasons that the power play is losing games. The Rangers won some despite their inept PP this season. Not this one.
6) Carl Hagelin scored the tying goal on a decent forecheck shift. The Rangers got a break there. Dominic Moore was hogtied. No call. They were better off to continue playing than they would have been with a power play. Sad.
7) The winning goal. Two Habs vs. four NYR in front. And the Habs score to make it 2-1 in second. with Staal and Martin St. Louis (minus-3) and Brassard fishing for pucks, only one Rangers body (I think it was John Moore) on a Montreal body. Terrible. Shortly after that goal, more stick checking by McDonagh and Dan Girardi, and Henrik Lundqvist has to make a close-range save.
8) Lundqvist. It’s not even worth trying to analyze his game in one like this, where the Habs have the puck, have a 2-on-none, where the Rangers stink it up around their own net. I thought he was good. Didn’t matter.
9) Daily Nash-O-Meter. Rick Nash, eight-goal scorer, got 15:57. He had that good tip early in the third period. Had a few other chances once it got to 3-1 and the Rangers threw caution to the wind. But didn’t do much else. Got fouled a few times, no call. That’s nothing new. His linemates were pretty absent, too, and their minutes were down. Not questioning AV, because he must have had his reasons. But: Nash 15:57. Mats Zuccarello (0 goals) 18:39. Martin St. Louis (1 goal) 20:08 and minus-3. Dom Moore 15:21.
10) Chris Kreider, with that target on his back, regressed. He had the hit on Markov early. Missed the net a few times. Did really not much. Kevin Hayes had his worst game as a pro and got just over 12:00.
11) Thought Anthony Duclair was fine. Assisted on the only goal. Not sure if he stays in the lineup, or if he stays up, or what happens. Had a nice steal early. Near breakaway in first. Lost puck. Nervous with friends and family in the house?
12) Good work by Klein taking on Brandon Prust there. At first I thought it was a boarding penalty. Looked, on the replay, that Zuccarello turned, got hit from the side, and wasn’t boarded. Though, I must admit, I don’t know what is and isn’t anymore.
13) What an incredible coincidence that P.K. Subban happens to get hurt so often when the Habs ice the puck. Happened a few times in the Eastern Conference final last year, and again last night. Thank God he was OK and able to come back.
14) Let’s put this nicely. Prust hasn’t gotten any quicker.
15) Sounds like the Brooklyn Tire Fires bandwagon is getting pretty full. You know, for October.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Kevin Klein.
2. Carl Hagelin.
3. Henrik Lundqvist.
Sean Mayer’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. Mats Zuccarello.
2. Derick Brassard.
3. Kevin “Don’t call me Calvin” Klein.
Joe from Newburgh’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. Dan Girardi.
2. Carl Hagelin.
3. Anthony Duclair.
Photos by Getty Images.