I don’t think the score was a far characterization of how this game was played. To be totally frank, I thought for the bulk of this game the Rangers played the Pens fairly evenly. I don’t think this was the case of 1 team blowing the doors off the other. The score was, after all, tied going into the 3rd period.
The difference in this game, to me, was the Rangers were unable to take advantage of the Penguins mistakes. They were a hair off. They got a turnover, but missed the shot wide. They forced an errant pass, but decided to change instead of going for it (probably a safe, smart thing to do, to be fair). The Pens on the other hand seemed to capitalize on every Rangers mistake. If it wasn’t in the back of the net, it was a high quality scoring chance. The Pens looked to execute an offensive gameplan better than the Rangers did.
A huge reason why? Brad Richards. He’s not been good of late. Dare I say, he’s been borderline terrible. Not going to get down on the guy because I think part of the reason he is struggling is because the players around him are struggling as well, but Richards needs to be a lot better. We know he can produce, he has since he got here, but a long dry spell. 0 points in his last 6 games. Held scoreless in 11 out of his last 15 games. It’s just not enough. He’s getting power play time. He’s getting even strength time. He’s just…not….producing. Think it’s a coincidence the Rangers are on a rollercoaster ride of late? None of their big guns are going. I just mentioned Richards’ cold streak, how about Gaborik? In his last 11 games he has 1 goal and 3 assists, and those assists are only in the past 3 games, 2 of which were losses. Gabby needs to play a lot better, and Richards needs to play a lot better. Your best players have to be your best players. Sure, sometimes you need your role players to step up. That’s what they’ve done. The Rangers are on a seesaw ride right now because their role players are getting them some wins, but if they want to go from weeblewobble to a winning streak, they need Gabby and Richards to be a whole hell of a lot better than they have been.
It also seems the Tortorella has lost all faith in Stu Bickels ability, though to be honest I think he’s played probably better than Marc Staal, who has been uneven since coming back from his injury. Looking equal parts great as he has looked awful. Stralman too has seen some ice time taken away from him, probably unfairly as well. The Rangers like to ride their horses, and it looks like we know who those horses are.
On a side note Michael Del Zotto has only been a (+) players once in his last 11 games. He’s been a -5 during that time period. Not good for a guy that has been a big time plus player for the Rangers. It’s not his defensive play that seems to have slipped, it’s his offensive play. I wonder if it has something to do with the Rangers big guns being silent. Is it all feeding into each other? Del Zottos play slips because Gabby and Richards play slips…or is it maybe the other way around? Or is it a killer circle? Will be interesting to see how, and when the Rangers snap outta this funk.