Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Candiens 3, Rangers 2, SO

The New York Rangers (38-19-2) lost to the Montreal Canadiens (32-20-8)  by the score of 3-2 in a shootout. For a box score, click here.

3 Stars

1st Star - The Fans (For getting the opportunity to witness a goaltending duel of that caliber.)
2nd Star - The Rangers Heritage Jersey (Love seeing them in that jersey against another Original Six)
3rd Star - Shea Weber (For not killing Lundqvist with that rocket of a shot)

Post Game Cocktail Recommendation

Got to recognize last night's old fashion goaltending duel with, duh, an Old Fashioned.

Video Clip of the Game

Sorry no gifs today, so instead I give you this obvious video clip of the game...

Obviously, Miller needs to do a better job getting that shot off quicker and more accurately, but damn that's a ridiculous save especially at that moment in the game. WOW!

4th Line Magic

When your 4th line is creating goals like this you know you've got something good going...

Having said that, while Lindberg & Fast represent what a 4th line should look like in today's NHL (i.e. speed, defense and scoring ability), my concern is Buchnevich. While he brings a distinct talent that no other 4th line in the NHL possesses, I can't help but wonder how he'll hold up being assigned the shutdown role opposite Crosby, Malkin or Ovechkin in the postseason. When those NHL super stars begin to take over a game (and they will), can Buchnevich be part of the solution or will he be the weak link?

It's why I still think the Rangers need to acquire another 4th line player who can handle the defensive responsibility, while also being able to keep up with the speed of the Rangers transition game.

It doesn't mean the acquired player should be handed the spot over Buchnevich or Vesey, but it's nice to have options. Especially if Gorton isn't able to upgrade the defense at the deadline.

Special Teams Sputtering

The Rangers power play is now in a 3-for-39 funk. That's, that's, yeah, not good. So, what to do? AV could turn to power play specialist Brandon Pirri, who's been rotting in the press box. But who is he taking out of the line-up? Buchnevich has rebounded nicely from his healthy scratch and Lindberg is finally finding his game now that he's completely recovered from his hip surgery and receiving consistent playing time. Plus, we all know AV's love for Fast. So I don't think Pirri is an option right now.

If only the Rangers had an offensive defenseman they could plug in the line-up to upgrade the power play while giving some of their veterans a rest ahead of the postseason. Too bad...

I'm not ready to panic about the penalty kill yet. But, what was once a strength of the team, has now given up power play goals in two straight.

Mini Recap

In the last two weeks, the Rangers have collected 5 of 8 points against the Blue Jackets, Islanders, Capitals and Canadiens. Not too shabby.

Another solid contribution from the defense last night as, not shockingly, the Rangers remain on a roll (7-1-1 in February) since the back end began playing at a competent level.

My only concern with the Rangers improved play on the blueline is that Gorton may be lulled into a false sense of security and not push hard enough for a defensive upgrade at the deadline. And make no miskake about it, while I continue to focus on back end's renaissance, they will go no where this postseason with the current defensive corps.

As far as the game goes, Carey Price is the only reason gunning for the 1st Wild Card could backfire on the Rangers. He's one of the few goaltenders who neutralizes the Rangers biggest asset: Henrik Lundqvist. It reminds me of the Rangers facing Quick in the 2014 Cup Final. While I'm not sure the Rangers beat the Blackhawks, I know Crawford wouldn't have put Chicago on his back the way Quick did. But I digress. It's tough to get too upset about a loss when the opposing goaltender performs the way Price did last night.

FYI, I still like the shootout. #sorrynotsorry

Back at it again tomorrow with another crucial test in Toronto.

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