Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Capitals 4, Rangers 1

The New York Rangers (40-21-2) lost to the Washington Capitals (42-13-7)  by the score of 4-1. For a box score, click here.

3 Most Hated People

1st - National Hockey League Board of Governors (For approving the offsides replay)
2nd - Gary Bettman (For implementing the offsides replay)
3rd - Matt Duchene (For being the reason for the offsides replay)

Post Game Cocktail Recommendation

Let's raise a glass of Smithwicks to the Rangers newest defenseman Brendan Smith.

Photo of the Game

I'm pretty sure this is how every Rangers fan felt after this one...

Pre-Deadline Wheeling & Dealing

With my old blog I would have had about 35 separate blog posts today, but in my geriatric state these days I'll have to go over the events in my game recap.

After missing out on the Shattenkirk sweepstakes to the Capitals, Jeff Gorton resorted to Plan B by acquiring Brendan Smith from the Red Wings for a 2017 3rd round pick and a 2018 2nd round pick (acquired from Ottawa in the Zibanejad/Brassard deal).

If the rumors were true and the Blues were asking for Buchnevich & a 1st for Shattenkirk, the Rangers GM deserves accolades for putting the team's long term interests ahead of likely unattainable short term success.

I did see some criticism from Rangers fans (what else is new) about Gorton giving up too much for Smith but he's a big upgrade on the blueline, only 28, and if the Blueshirts re-sign him this offseason (which rumors indicate they'd like to do) it will be well worth the draft picks.

Plus, to make up for trading away two high draft picks, the Rangers will likely just poach the next big time college player not interested in signing an entry level contract with the NHL team that drafted them.

With Buchnevich sent down to Hartford (more on that later in the post), I'd still like to see Gorton shore up that 4th line with a grinding presence before the deadline.

Physically Dominated

Looks like Barry Trotz watched the Blue Jackets hammer the Rangers physically on Sunday as the Caps played with a nasty edge all night.

Lots of ice bags in the Rangers locker room after this one.

How to Stick Up for Your Goaltender

This is how most teams do it...

This is how the Rangers do it...

Yep, the Rangers simply skate away as if nothing happened. Embarrassing.

In all fairness, Kampfer did come to Lundqvist's aid when the Rangers goaltender was run over in the second period, but I'm assuming the team set the new guy straight during the second intermission and he'll never make that mistake again.

Going Out On a High Note

Speaking of Kampfer, he had a real solid game as he was steady and dependable in both ends of the ice. After passing his first defensive test against the All World Ovechkin early in the first period...

...I fully expected him to pull a George Costanza and immediately yank himself from the game so he could go out on a high note...

Voros School of Boxing

Full marks to Clendening for not backing down to Winnik, who apparently can't take a hit. Unfortunately for the Rangers defenseman, it looks like he learned his fighting skills at the Aaron Voros School of Boxing...

Besides the scrap, which sadly seemed the wake-up the Capitals as they scored 20 seconds later, Clendening had another impressive performance tonight. Not sure how AV is going to justify taking him out of the line-up once Girardi and Klein are healthy. I mean look at this setup on the Skjei goal...

Maybe Gorton has another trade up his sleeve.

Mini Recap

I could point to the physical aspect of the game for being the main reason for the Rangers downfall tonight, but if we're being honest, it was another dreadful night of special teams that did them in.

With the Rangers sporting an early 1-0 lead and dominating the game, they couldn't take advantage of two first period power play opportunities and headed to the locker room with just the one-goal lead.

Then, given two more chances on the extra man to cut into the Capitals now two goal third period lead, they faltered again. The game was then put away as the Rangers penalty kill gave up their 5th power play goal in six games.

When the Rangers were winning, it was easy to overlook the failures of the power play, but after two straight losses, it's now front and center.

It's also easy to blame injuries to three starters for the lackluster play, but fill-ins Clendening and Kampfer were among the team's best players tonight and there's enough forward depth to make-up for the loss of Zibanejad.

While I hate the offsides review with a passion, the Rangers need to recognize that there is replay and, you know, start staying onsides, because at the end of the day, no matter how much of an abomination it is to micromanage a sport of this speed, the refs got the call correct.

I understand the reasoning behind reassigning Buchnevich to the AHL club in order to get some games under his belt instead of rotting away in the press box, but it wasn't a good look to see both Puempel and Pirri in the lineup while the Russian rookie was on a bus headed to Hartford.

If the Rangers don't swing a deal for a fourth line grinder, the answer to their Buchnevich quandary might be to drop the suddenly struggling Grabner down to his original spot on the fourth line while giving the Russian import a shot with offensive linemates in Hayes and Miller.

Derek Stepan's goalless streak is now at...

I'm surely not going to panic after two lackluster games, but the Rangers need to get their offense popping again as they've scored two or fewer goals in six of their last seven games.

Off tomorrow, then on to Boston.

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