The first move by the Rangers heading into the homestretch was to give Dan Fritsche the Patrick Rissmiller treatment by putting him on waivers, and then traded him to Minnesota for defenseman Erik Reitz.
A seventh defenseman? What a concept.
Is Glen Sather actually admitting he made some mistakes? But the big question is: Will Tom Renney scratch a veteran to put Reitz in the lineup? Dmitri Kalinin hurt his back in yesterday’s game so that may get Reitz in the lineup, though.
If the Rangers were going to have a better and consistent second half, they needed to improve in certain areas, teamwise, and as individuals. In the first game back from the break, let’s see how they did.
1. Scott Gomez needs to turn it on the last two+ months of the season: Well, he started out with a bang in the team’s 3-2 win over Carolina on Tuesday. He netted a goal and added an assist, and was the star of the game (and could have won an Emmy for best comedy performance for his postgame interview with Al Trautwig).
And his line with Markus Naslund and Ryan Callahan is started to gain some chemistry. Please don’t rip them apart, Tom Renney, please.
2. Nikolai Zherdev needs to start scoring some damn goals: He didn’t put the puck in the net on Tuesday, but he was an offensive force, and made a beauty of a pass on Brandon Dubinsky’s goal.
3. The penalty killing needs to stay top-notch: The team was four for four on the PK. You can’t be better than perfect.
4. The power play needs to improve (by a lot): They were 0-2. They did look a little better, but still didn’t score.
5. The defense needs to stop with the embarrassing blunders: No big mistakes by anybody in this game. Hallelujah.
Other Notes: Steve Valiquette put up another solid performance. Lauri Korpikoski scored. The team forced a number of turnovers, which led to some offensive chances. And Petr Prucha was scratched again.
Everybody chant: “Let him play! Let him play! Let him play!”
Quote of the Day, Valiquette: “We’re pros, and times have changed. The postgame hydration isn’t a Bud Light. Everybody is very serious about the way they carry themselves. That showed tonight because we came back and were ready to play.” That’s great to see, but did he have to bad-mouth Bud Light in the process?
Following up on their win on Tuesday, the Rangers played well for two periods against Pittsburgh. Colton Orr and Eric Godard got things off to a rousing start by gooning it up (and I mean that in a good way) at the opening face-off. Zherdev ended his goal scoring drought and gave the Blueshirts a 1-0 lead.
The Rangers controlled the play and outcshot the Penguins in the first two periods. But none of that mattered because the final frame wiped all that out.
Henrik Lundqvist fell apart, and the team followed his lead. Their poise and discipline flew out the window. They committed too many penalties, turned the puck over, couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone, still can’t score on the power play (that’s just killing them), and Hank was just plain awful (six goals again?). It was ugly.
Was there an open bar in the Rangers’ locker room between the second and third periods? That’s the only explanation I can come up with.
Other Notes: Ryan Callahan was out with the flu, so Prucha was back in the lineup. Aaron Voros picked up his first point since December 10th.
Quote of the Day, Paul Mara: “If we could take away the third period, I think we were solid.” I wish they could take away the third period, too.
So in their first game of the week, the Rangers played a good all-around game. In the next game, they completely fell apart. And in yesterday’s 1-0 loss to Boston, they just weren’t good enough against the Eastern Conference’s best team.
Talk about an inconsistent week. Nigel Dawes‘ giveaway led to the Bruins’ only goal (with three seconds left in the second period), and they couldn’t score one lousy goal against a goaltender making his fourth NHL start. They committed another too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty (on a power play, no less).
So where does all this leave them? They don’t score enough to compete every night, the power play is awful (0-6 for the week), they make too many mistakes (the players and the coaches) and they have too many holes (they sure could use a power winger, physical defenseman, offensive defenseman, and some offensive players who could score a goal once in a while - that’s all).
Quote of the Day, Renney: “I thought we played a pretty good road game. It’s one of those things where an error here or there against a team like this is going to cost you. And that’s what happened on their goal.”
Colton Orr: 10
Aaron Voros: 7
Brandon Dubinsky: 4
Ryan Callahan: 3
Paul Mara: 3
Dan Girardi: 2
Marc Staal: 2
Nigel Dawes: 1
Petr Prucha: 1
Wade Redden: 1
Nikolai Zherdev: 1