Friday, January 13, 2012

Rangers Fall to Senators 3-0

The Rangers lost to the Senators tonight 3-0 at Madison Square Garden, snapping their five-game winning streak.

The Rangers actually got out to quite a fast start in the first period and had what I thought were their best scoring chances of the game then. Wojtek Wolski, who made his return to the lineup today with Brandon Dubinsky out with a sore shoulder, actually looked very good playing with Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan and seemed to have a noticeable spark to his game. Craig Anderson played well in goal for Ottawa, but to be honest it seemed like most of the Rangers shots that got through were fired right directly into the center of his chest. The Senators also did a good job of clearing the crease and winning battles for loose pucks in front of the net.

Henrik Lundqvist wasn't at his best tonight, but it happens. When your team doesn't score a goal, it doesn't really matter how well or how poorly you play in net. In Lundqvist's defense, each goal came off of bad giveaway by the Rangers, although I thought two of the three goals he let in could've been stopped. The first goal came after Artem Anisimov failed to clear the puck, which then led to him being benched for the rest of the second period and most of the third. The second goal came on a bad turnover in the offensive zone after Brian Boyle had his shot go off the stick of Jason Spezza that went the other way and that pretty much sealed the game at that point. The third goal also came off of a turnover when Carl Hagelin tried a cross-ice pass at the blue line in the offensive zone while the Rangers were short-handed that led to an odd man rush the other way, but at that point it was late in the third period and the Rangers were just trying anything to get a goal.

Even though the Rangers have scored just one goal in their last two games now, I'm not really worried. I don't think it's worth flipping out over one loss considering the team has only 10 regulation losses 41 games into the season (exactly at the halfway point). The important thing, however, is making sure it's just that - one loss. The Rangers play in Toronto on Saturday and in Montreal on Sunday, which will both be tough games that they won't be able to coast through. We know how the officiating is in Montreal and the way the crowd can dictate the way the game goes, too, so I think getting a win in Toronto is very important on Saturday.

What I thought was most alarming was how much John Tortorella kept using the line of Carl Hagelin-Brian Boyle-Ruslan Fedotenko in the third period with the Rangers trailing in a one-goal game. Torts said after the game that he wasn't pleased with the play of his top lines, and specifically singled out Artem Anisimov's play, which has dipped recently. Boyle's line was working hard, being physical and doing all the right things except scoring, which is really my biggest problem. I understand wanting to reward guys who are playing hard, I do. But I just have a problem running these guys out there every other shift who simply just don't have the offensive skill you want trailing late in a game. Brian Boyle can't buy a goal, Ruslan Fedotenko seems to score once every two weeks and Carl Hagelin really should've been playing on Brad Richards' line with Wojtek Wolski getting little to no ice time in the third period.

Honestly, it was just one of those frustrating games. It's not the fact that the Rangers lost; it's the fact that they lost a game they should've won.

Some postgame notes: Brian Boyle led all Rangers forwards with 19:56 TOI and was a minus-1 with four shots on the night...Marian Gaborik was a minus-1 and registered no shots on goal...Wojtek Wolski played 14:50 with three shots on goal in his first game since Nov. 3...Marc Staal played 19:03 after playing 15:00 in his last game...The Rangers outshot the Senators 34-24...The Senators joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as the only team this season to defeat the Rangers more than once.

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