I gotta tell you, I think the Rangers probably played a worse game tonight than they did against Buffalo. Luckily, it wasn’t Ryan Miller between the pipes for the Leafs, and the Rangers were able to just barely gut out a win they probably didn’t deserve.
Look, we gotta admit something here. The Rangers are playing pretty poor hockey as of late. Nothing like the team we’ve seen for 95% of this season. They are still playing hard, but, they are also playing DUMB. DUMB hockey, when you don’t have the talent to make up for it, leads to mediocre results. The Rangers haven’t been winning much of late, alternating a few wins here with a loss or 2 there. It’s not good enough. If the Rangers want to actually win a round or 2, they are going to have to get their heads out of their asses and start getting back to what made them successful. So, what was that?
1)Hitting. This is where the Rangers set themselves apart. When this hit hard and often, they push the opposition into forcing plays or doing things too quickly for fear of getting hit. When the Rangers aren’t playing this game, they are what they are, a mediocre talented team with a great goalie who, believe it or not, is human, and sometimes goes into slumps (he picked a bad time for this one), which leads us to..
2)Goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist has to be better. A LOT better. A WHOLE LOT BETTER. There isn’t much else to say. Henrik has seemingly given up 3 or more goals every time you see him out there. It’s not like he’s giving up softies either, he’s just not making great save after great save like we’re used to seeing. The Rangers need to play better, for sure, but Henrik used to be what put us apart from everyone else. Right now, he’s ice cold, and that’s brought this team back down to earth.
3)Patience. The Rangers have been trying to force way too many things in the offensive zone. That’s fine and dandy when you have Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz, Staal, Letang, etc putting pucks in the net seemingly at will. But when you have Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and a bunch of 3rd line type players, you have to be patient. Don’t force plays, let the plays come to you. Play the cycle game, wear out the opposition, block pucks, play defense, and score when you can. Winning a game 2-1 is just as good as winning it 5-4. Rangers used to win games with regularity when they scored 3, right now they are playing such poor defense that they are losing these kinds of games.
Fix those 3 things, and the Rangers will be a helluva lot better with regards to securing first place, than they are now.
Luckily though, the Rangers were able to put up 2 big points on the board. Big because Pittsburgh, amazingly, actually lost a game…in regulation :-O
I know, apparently they are having a holiday in Ottawa thanks to this accomplishment.
So, usually, a win where the Rangers play like crap doesn’t sit well with me because of the way I am wired. It’s not if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. But, this one time, I’m going to ignore that, and take the 2 points. Sure, we played like crap, but, you know what, screw the Pens, I want first place.