Friday, December 16, 2011

Rangers Fall To Blues 4-1

The Rangers lost to the St. Louis Blues tonight by a score of 4-1, and were really outplayed from start to finish.

If you missed the game today - well, then lucky you. Right from the beginning the Rangers just looked completely mismatched and were lacking energy. It really wasn't until the third period when the Rangers really had sustained offensive pressure in the Blues' zone, and the game actually could've looked much worse if the Rangers had any other goalie besides Henrik Lundqvist in goal for them. John Tortorella juggled his lines a lot as the game went on in hopes of finding something to spark the team (including reuniting Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards on the same line), but nothing worked.

Click below to read my notes on tonight's game.

Some notes from tonight:

- Dan Girardi was a game-worst minus-3 tonight, while Ryan McDonagh was a minus-2. The pair has struggled the past few games and it's worth wondering if all the ice time and added defensive responsibility with them is starting to wear them down a little bit, but it's not like the Rangers have much of a choice until Marc Staal comes back. McDonagh will be forced to continue to learn on the fly and take his bumps and bruises while playing on the top pairing.

- David Backes completely had his way with the Rangers all night long. He didn't record a point, but he was noticeable every time he was on the ice and was a physical presence throwing big hits all night long. Alex Steen was the offensive star for the Blues tonight on the scoresheet, but Backes gave the Rangers fits and they simply had no answer for him. Working against big bodies like Backes is one of the many strengths of Marc Staal's game, and this was a game where I felt like the Rangers really missed his presence.

- Anton Stralman had 20:18 total TOI tonight, which was his highest total thus far as a Ranger. After an abysmal first game against the Panthers, I've actually been impressed with Stralman since he was put back into the lineup following Michael Sauer's injury. It seems like he's gaining more confidence and playing looser with the more games he plays successfully. He's also shown some flashes of what he can do offensively when joining the rush, which is easily his biggest asset to the team when his game is going right.

- The Rangers had no power play chances on the night. The only penalty in the game was a holding call against Steve Eminger in the second period, which the Rangers successfully killed off.

- Erik Christensen got just 7:05 of ice time tonight and was pretty much benched for most of the game since the Rangers were trailing and John Tortorella was rolling with a combination of three lines for a majority of the night. Considering the lack of energy the Rangers have shown the last two games, I would think it makes perfect sense to send EC back to the press box and reinsert Sean Avery back into the lineup. But, as we know, nothing with Avery being in the lineup is a guarantee with John Tortorella as the head coach. I personally have seen absolutely nothing that warrants Erik Christensen being in this lineup over Avery or even John Mitchell for that matter.

- It was interesting to see John Tortorella reunite Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards tonight since he's stayed away from using them on the same line for quite a while now. I think we'll definitely see some line changes in practice tomorrow, so we'll see if this was a permanent switch or not.

- Brandon Dubinsky was bounced around a lot in the game between left wing and center, and I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that we see him moved up in the lineup come Saturday. The only way Dubi is ever going to get going is by playing with more skilled players and getting more ice time.

- If Mike Rupp is ready to go on Saturday, odds are John Mitchell will be a healthy scratch. He barely had any ice time in the third period (just 10:18 total) and seems to have dropped off with his play recently.

That's it for tonight. The Rangers' next game is Saturday night in Phoenix, where they'll try and break this two-game skid against Don Maloney and Co.

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