3 Stars1st Star - Brady Skjei (For not having to participate in that disaster)
2nd Star - Henrik Lundqvist (Textbook execution of how an employee starts his Christmas vacation early)
3rd - Tanner Glass (With back-to-back blowouts he'll likely be recalled before your first fish course on Christmas Eve)
Post Game Cocktail Recommendation
Not sure what was worse, having to sit through this train wreck for the second straight game or my wife forcing me to watch Love Actually immediately afterward. The only prescription for this nightmare scenario is a Mind Eraser.
Gif of the Game
With his three point night (2g, 1a), Chris Kreider now has 11 points in his last 12 games. Plus, how fired up was he after his first goal to open up the scoring?
Net Front Presence? What Net Front Presence?
The following content may not be suitable for young audiences:
I can't even look it's so horrifying. Sadly, it wasn't as horrifying for the Wild players. They must have felt like they were running through a dewy meadow while Ranger players showered them with lollipops and gumdrops the entire game.
Not counting the empty netter, four of the six Wild goals were scored below the hash marks without a single Rangers player placing even a finger on the goal scorer. On the fifth goal, I swear I heard Staal and Clendening take Zucker's drink order before he scored.
The lack of physical play from the Rangers in their defensive end has been embarrassing the last two games. Hell, the last two years. I've seen more snarl from my seven year old daughter after telling her it's bed time.
Until Rangers defensemen start making life miserable for opponents setting up shop at the top of the crease by punishing them physically, there's going to be many more nights like tonight.
Zone Exit Issues
One of the biggest reasons for the Rangers recent lack of transition offense along with being pinned in their own end is the defense's inability to create clean defensive zone exits.
I have no idea if this is being taught to the defensemen by AV, but it seems as if the Rangers breakout strategy of choice is the saucer pass out of the zone to no one in particular which usually leads to a turnover or an icing.
The two biggest guilty parties are Dan Girardi and Nick Holden. It's like a hot potato when the puck gets on their sticks in the defensive end. And last night, it cost the Rangers...
Despite token pressure and a wide open Pirri streaking up the ice, Girardi chooses to casually flip the puck out of the zone ending up in an icing which forces a tired group of forwards and an injured McDonagh (he had just blocked a shot with his hand) to stay on the ice for the ensuing defensive zone draw that resulted in a goal a mere seconds later.
Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated incident as it's become common place with this defensive unit. And until guys like Girardi and Holden start recognizing open forwards during a breakout, the Rangers are going to continue to have difficulty implementing their speed game.
FYI, you know who does have a quality break out pass? Brady Skjei. How'd he do tonight? Oh yeah...
Now, despite everything I've just said about the defensive misgivings, the Rangers All World goaltender needs to do a better job stopping the puck or he's going to be losing even more starts this season.
Similar to the blowout loss to the Penguins, it really makes no sense to analyze individual players in a game like this. My biggest concern, however, is this team's lack of energy. Where's the big hit on the forecheck to not only regain possession of the puck but to fire up the bench? Where's the Sean Averyesque antagonizing to get the opponent off their game? The snow shower in the opposing goaltender's face? The cross check to the lower back of the opposing forward who's standing over your goaltender? I mean where's the pride? Jesus, let them know you're out there!
I'm just not seeing the enthusiasm the last few games. Was the third period encouraging? Sure, but let's not get too crazy as the Wild were in cruise control at that point.
I know I joked about recalling Tanner Glass the other day, and I'm not really advocating for him, but, man, this team needs some kind of physical presence in the lineup to set the tone, because right now the Rangers could play with a carton of eggs and not break any.
To end this on a positive note, I want to wish everyone and their families a happy and healthy Christmas and Hanukkah.