The Rangers spoiled Sunday by producing a stinker against the Philadelphia Flyers, losing 4-2 in a game that wasn't as close and wasn't anywhere near as exciting as the score may imply.
The Blueshirts got off to a nice start by scoring first but then let the Flyers battle back to take over the game. It was amazing how, against the Broad Street Bullies, the Rangers didn't work hard enough to earn a single power play. And, when the team needed a spark for themselves and the crowd, not a single big hit was thrown or punch exchanged. That seems to be this team's M.O. this year but it clearly hasn't worked as they have had rally after rally fall short this season. Maybe a tussle late in the second period could have gotten the ball rolling in time to save the game. Maybe.
They dominated in shots but, as per usual, barely made the opposing goaltender work for his saves. Some credit needs to go to the stellar defensive corps in front of
Now 2-7-1 in the last 10 games with three games to go until the trade deadline, the Rangers need to decide what the goal of this season is. If it is to make a real run at the playoffs, then a big deal is in order. If it is to just develop the players, then they need to stop talking about the postseason and how important getting points is because that kind of pressure is pointless; just let the boys play and learn on the fly - let the chips fall where they may. But I wouldn't bet on that. Instead we will keep going the way we are with the team will be driven hard with the goal being any playoff spot they can get. If it burns out Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal and Brandon Dubinsky (among others), so be it.
*For the second straight game the team needed to grind out a goal or two and yet their grinders - Boyle, Prust and Avery - all saw less than 13 minutes of ice time. The completely ineffective Mr. Softie Erik Christensen saw more time than all three of them. Inexcusable. Boyle should have been reprimanded for his stupid first period penalty but the coach should bag skate the guy to send the message, don't piss away two points.
*Perhaps it is time to let Avery off his leash, don't you think?
*Amazing - as a member of a team that claims to be so tough - how Andrej Meszaros collapsed like a ton of bricks after being bumped by Wolski. Meszaros looked directly at Wolski before taking the feed from Boucher and intentionally turned into the boards before embellishing his fall. People get hit harder than that walking through New York City streets and yet they don't immediately turn and look at the ref to make sure they get the call.
*Marian Gaborik left early with a mysterious concussion. If we were dubious about Drury's injury, we need to be outright disbelieving about this diagnosis. Sure he hasn't been himself, but when has Gaborik taken a big hit this season? Did he pull a Brian Leetch and 'slip on some ice exiting a cab'?? No matter what excuse the Slovak can come up with, the fact is that he has been virtually useless in 35 or so of his 47 appearances this season so his absence shouldn't hurt too badly. In fact, the team should do better without him as they can use his 'concussion' as something to rally around - as they did during his first injury this season.
*While neither he, nor his buddy Prospal put the puck in, the Rangers did manage to score. Wojtek Wolski, in fact, snapped a 10 game drought. Wolski finally used his tendency to circle around avoiding contact to slip past Claude Giroux and score from the slot. It was nice to see New York with the first goal of the game but, of course, it didn't last.
*Their other goal - Derek Stepan's - was just dumb luck after Boucher misplayed a puck off the endboards. Nice to see Step score - hopefully now he can figure out how to do it more than once every four or five games.
*The goals Hank gave up weren't great goals but it is hard to hang him out on this one. All three of the pucks that ended up behind him came on plays where the guys in front of him were scrambling around. If Biron is in net, would they have been so willing to run around? This would have been the right game to put the backup in, as the team is amid a span of four games in six days and was facing the top team in the conference at an odd time of day. It was a pointless risk for for the team's top 'tender.
*And this was a game where Tortorella's pledge to stick with the youngsters through thick and thin was tested as Sauer and McDonagh were horrid. The Carcillo goal was uuuuuuugly but if Sauer actually hit checked the guy, he wouldn't have been able to get his backhand off. And McDonagh's silly stick check wasn't enough to stop Carter from tipping Giroux's shot in.
*Too many Flyer fans in the Garden, too much of that awful orange around.
*The Rangers can talk about development all they want but is Del Zotto really developing playing 10 minutes of ineffective hockey?
*Mats Zuccarello could/should be the player to most take advantage of Gaborik's "concussion" and he showed why in this one. MZA, in my opinion, was the best of the bunch for the Rangers - he shows no fear, has great hands and good ice awareness. I think the sky is the limit for him (which is funny 'cause he is so short. Get it?!?).
*PHW Three Stars
3-Ryan Callahan - four shots, -1.
2-Claude Giroux - one goal and one assist.
1-Jeff Carter - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Kimmo Timmonen - There aren't many players in the NHL as underrated as this guy. A smart puck mover who is good in his own zone and eats up the minutes, Timmonen was as good as usual in this one.
2-Giroux - Sure glad the Rangers selected Bobby Sanguinetti the pick before Philly grabbed Giroux in 2006, right? Personally I blame Tom Poti. If he hadn't sucked so much, the scouting staff wouldn't have reached for another Leetch replacement.
1-Carter - Carter is a big, strong sniper who is willing to go to the tough spots to score. The Rangers sure could use a player like that.