3 Stars1st Star - Penguins Shot Total Keeper (His hand must be killing him after tallying up all those shots)
2nd Star - AV (For sitting Lundqvist and not subjecting him to that sh*t show)
3rd Star - Liquor stores & bars in the tri-state area (Ranger fans needed a couple of drinks after this one)
Post Game Cocktail Recommendation
With the Pens big three of Crosby, Malkin and Kessel combining for 7 points (3g, 4a) I got to go with a Three Wise Men shot. Plus, for bonus points, it has a Christmas theme as well.
Gif of the Game
To cheer Rangers fans up, here's a gif of Martin St. Louis scoring on Mother's Day to help the Rangers rebound from 3-1 series deficit vs. Penguins back in 2014.
Crosby Still A Dirty Jerk Face
Rangers fans are well aware of Sidney Crosby's dirty tactics on the ice:
Welp, tonight he once again showed his true colors.
And sadly, this kind of disgusting disregard for a fellow hockey player isn't just exclusive to Crosby on the Penguins. I'm looking at you Mr. Malkin.
Dan Girardi has felt the wrath of the fancy stat crowd due to his putrid possession numbers the last few years. And I'm sure you're going to read a ton of scathing reviews of his performance last night (justified). But instead of joining the lynch mob, I've decided to feature a play that pretty much personifies Girardi's tenure with the Rangers.
Not only did he stop a 90+ mph shot with the same knee that was cracked last season, it lead to this scoring opportunity that could have changed the course of this game:
Of course, I finally start praising Nash and he goes back on the shelf with another groin injury. Thankfully, it sounds like he should be back in 2 weeks.
In case you were wondering, no, Buchnevich (bulging disk) has not returned to Russia after successfully hacking the United States election. In fact, his situation is improving as Larry Brooks reports that the Russian rookie skated on Monday for the first time since Dec. 5, and barring an unforeseen setback is on a soft timeline to return within a week or so following the Rangers’ bye week that runs from Jan. 8 through Jan. 12.
Everybody on the Rangers did everything wrong. I mean, if I counted correctly, the Penguins final shot total was infinity.
To be honest, AV probably should have went with the backup goalie tonight to keep his starter fresh for Friday night.
In all seriousness, the only player who escapes any semblance of criticism tonight is Raanta. I mean look at the shots against:
Here's Raanta's post game interview:
Listen, I could break down each players failings tonight on a micro level. But the problems plaguing this team are of the macro variety. Sure, there are devastating injuries and a rough schedule, but let's be honest, the issues begin and end with the defense.
I came to Girardi's aid above, but it's reality time folks. He has no business being on the top pairing with McDonagh. I can justify that statement with a million charts and graphs, but even to the most ardent Girardi supporter, it's obvious. His warrior mentality along with father time have taken their toll on his body denying him the ability to shutdown the elite players in the league the way he once did. I do, however, still think Girardi can be a productive member of this team if deployed correctly.
Early in the season, AV was able to get the most out of his much maligned defensive personnel with proper usage. McDonagh was excelling while paired with fancy stat darling Clendening as well as with Nick Holden; Staal and Klein were a very productive 2nd duo; and Girardi seemed to find the fountain of youth with sheltered minutes on the third pair with the mobile Skjei.
But that all went up in smoke once AV moved Girardi back up to the first pairing while giving Clendening a permanent seat in the press box. It's beyond baffling as to why AV doesn't rotate Clendening into the lineup allowing his elder defensemen a respite for those old bones in an effort to keep them fresh throughout the season. Instead, AV is running these guys into the ground. The Rangers just played 9 games in 15 days and Clendening suited up in just ONE of them. That's criminal. Not because I think Clendening is the next Brian Leetch, but because Girardi, Klein and Staal likely got their AARP cards in the mail this week.
AV is putting his defensemen in a position to fail instead of succeed.
Plus Clendening is deft a moving the puck. Something this current motley crew is lacking in spades. In October and the early part of November, the Rangers relied on their forwards to start the transition game. Unfortunately, now that they've been beset with injuries, the backend deficiencies are coming to the forefront. And until the Rangers get healthy up front, or make a trade for a puck moving defenseman, this will remain an issue going forward.