Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Stars 7, Rangers 6

The New York Rangers (28-16-1) lost to the Dallas Stars (19-19-8) by the score of 7-6. For a box score, click here.

3 Stars

1st Star - Not the Rangers defense
2nd Star - Magnus Hellberg (Assuming he gets the start over Lundqvist in Toronto on Wednesday?)
3rd Star - Still not the Rangers defense

Post Game Cocktail Recommendation

Since the Rangers defense looked like they were skating in mud tonight, I've got to go with a Mudslide.

Gif of the Game

In an effort to take your mind off the fact that Lundqvist has now allowed 16 goals in the last three games, I give you the linesman falling on his face...


Rangers fans are officially ready to go back to the old Lundqvist...

I know five of the seven goals were nearly impossible to save, but Lundqvist still looked lost out there tonight. He was bobbling easy dump ins on net from the red line, he looked exasperated after every tally against and then there was the fifth goal of the game...

Henrik Lundqvist doesn't lose focus. Ever. On that goal, and too often lately, he has. He needs a shot of confidence like no goaltender I've ever seen.

It doesn't happen often, but we've seen in professional sports, athletes at the top of their game lose their mental sharpness and never able to fully recover. We can look no further than the mental gymnastics Marc Andre Fluery has been dealing with the last five years.

Obviously it's way too premature to be thinking about that scenario with Lundqvist, but you can tell his struggles are in his head. I hate to say it, but if he doesn't figure it out by the All Star break, AV almost has no choice but to turn to Raanta.

And that Bronx Cheer by the MSG crowd? Yeah, that doesn't help.


For more of my thoughts on Lundqvist's struggles and how he can no longer carry the Rangers porous defense, click here.

Revenge Best Served....Late?

Listen, I appreciate Kreider avenging his goaltender by going after Eakin. I really do. But it sort of loses it's meaning when it comes three weeks too late. Respond immediately or don't respond at all.

Seriously though, the guys at Lamda Lamda Lamba did a better job getting revenge on the Alpha Betas.

Physically Pounded

It looked like the Stars came into the game with one thing in mind for the Rangers...

The Blueshirts were physically pounded from one end of the ice to the other, with Rich Nash, yes, seriously, providing the only resistance.

With the Rangers not defending their star goaltender in the previous matchup between these two teams, Dallas probably figured they could walk into MSG and have their way physically with the Blueshirts. And they were right.

The frightening part is that there's no one on the roster who can put a stop to this in-game. I mean, do you really want guys like Kreider and Miller being the de facto enforcers?

And that's where you get into a Catch-22 because you don't want an inferior player like Tanner Glass on the roster, but at the same time there needs to be some kind of physical presence in the line-up for games like tonight.

Where's Buddy the Elf when you need him? Yes, that Buddy the Elf.

Mini Recap

I've only been back blogging for a little over a month and I've already crucified the defense too many times to count, so I refuse to waste my time on them again tonight. What I will say is that games like this usually lead to some kind of shake up. Let's hope that comes in the form of a man named Shattenkirk.

It really is impossible to evaluate a contest like tonight's. Sure, you love the resiliency, but how much of that was because Dallas was in cruise control and Niemi is a borderline NHL goalie. I'm more concerned about the first two periods than excited about the final 20 minutes.

Having said that, Nash-Zibanejad-Buchnevich and Zuccarello-Stepan-Kreider got me like..

Add in Miller-Hayes-Grabner and that's as deep a top nine as you'll see in the NHL. Hell, Vesey is stuck on the fourth line right now. Nice problem to have.

Bottom line though, if this defense can't at the very least be sufficient, I don't see how the Rangers even qualify for the playoffs with how strong the Metro Division is.

With how stacked the Blueshirts are at forward, that's a depressing thought.

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  1. Did Vesey even play last night?

    I will say this. I loved that the Rangers didn't just fold, pack it in, and quit when down 7-3. They showed some fortitude and almost completed a comeback. I thought surely the Rangers had hit rock bottom but they showed me something.

    The Bronx cheers made me sad.

    1. Yes, the Rangers have shown the ability to comeback. The only problem is they they put themselves in position to do it way too often.

    2. Vesey should go to CT to get some real playing time. He is outmatched and looks lost. The NHL has caught up to him. Or he just stopped going to the front of the net.

      BTW... they should be sellers at the deadline Grabner and Fast will get swallowed up and for a nice haul. Something needs to change.

      PS... MCD offa... i know its a hank bash fest but holly cow has he fallen off a cliff. He is as mets fans say TERRYBLE

  2. When the Cowboys came up short on Sunday I thought, "At least I have the Rangers"

    Thanks (deity of your choice).

  3. At what point does Gorton need to consider making a package that contains at least 1 of Miller/Hayes/Vesey/Graber/Fast to get someone in return who can actually play defense?
    Just going solely on the assumption that this is probably the level of Hank we'll expect for the rest of his career, and that the only way to improve his numbers is to put a few better players in front of him, at some point Gorton has to see the depth at forward as tipping the scale for the Rangers to being to top heavy. There's no one in the minors that is the next wave that will be joining this team in the next 1-2 years and saving us.
    Sure, we'll probably buy out Girardi this summer and use the money to go after Shattenkirk, but I think it's clear the D needs more of an overhaul than just one guy. Everyone has lamented for the past 5 years that we were probably wasting Hank is his prime. This season, I'd argue we're now wasting McDonagh's most prime years, forcing him to be paired with Girardi.
    If Gorton doesn't have the trust or belief to make a move like this, then he might as well start dealing some of these guys for picks, because the D as it currently stands is not capable of keeping the Rangers "window" open much longer.

  4. Obviously, I'd need to see the return, but I'd be amendable to trading one of those guys for defensive help.

    1. Going solely off of teams that are bound to be sellers, and assuming we'd prefer to trade one of those guys out West, Colorado and Arizona would be sure-fire targets.
      Haven't watched any of these guys specifically, but Tyson Barrie in Colorado and Connor Murphy are two young, right handed defensmen who are signed for multiple years. I'd consider starting there. I doubt you're getting OEL out of Arizona, but it's nice to dream. Barrie puts up good points and could be a PP QB, but is probably too small. Murphy is still pretty young, but has good size and high potential.

    2. I also wouldn't mind obtaining a grinding presence at forward. Too much finesse and not enough grit.

  5. Also would be curious if you've seen an up-tick in traffic here since the nyrblog went to the facebook comment plug-in, seemingly killing off the comments section.

    1. It's hard to tell because traffic goes down during holidays and has been on a steady climb since. I don't think it's related tho.

    2. I was also devastated to see that happen. It was amazing to see that community to grow to what it was.

  6. So good to have you back Kevin, can you please replace Larry Brooks and write for the NY Post??? Thanks!

    1. Ha! I'll see what I can do. Thanks!

  7. AV is now blaming the poor play of the defense on Hank's loss of confidence ....

    Vigneault: "There's no doubt that there's a confidence issue with Hank...That can trickle-down a little bit with the other guys."

    1. Yikes. Talk about misplaced blame.

  8. A lot is being made about whether or not the team plays better in front of Hank vs Antti. Most of the stats that I've seen other people share says there is little difference. But the one thing that jumps out as me is how Antti's ability to handle the puck better allows our mediocre D a better chance of gathering a pass and then moving it up to the forwards. There are way too many times where I've seen Hank fire a puck around the board and it goes past the nearest defensemen, but doesn't reach a forward. It then ends up getting picked off at the half boards, and now the other team has the puck in our zone, and our two nearest players are out of position. That's got to factor in somewhere.

    1. I don't think there's any question it's a factor. Not sure how much but definitely has an impact.