Game 76: ANA 6 NYR 3, Duck tales not a fairy tale for Rangers
March 27, 2017, 7:35 AM ET [75 Comments]
New York Rangers Blogger • RSS • Archive • CONTACT
The magic number remains at two. In a night where you saw lots of good things and way too many bad ones, the Rangers fell 6-3 to Anaheim on Sunday. Two goals in a 2:06 span in the third proved to be the difference on a night where the returning left Henrik Lundqvist, playing his first game since the hip injury on March 7, out to dry.
Coach Alain Vigneault said it best: “Too many guys brought their ‘C’ game and that’s not good enough. It was not an easy game for Hank, but if I know him the way everyone does, he’s going to get better.” A C rating might be kind for several. Issues we saw the night before, when LA carried possession for late chunks of the game and pressured Antti Raanta, were on full display yesterday. Much of the analysis after the Kings game was if New York turns the puck over at the same frequency, Anaheim, now 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, will make them pay.
That is precisely what happened. Larry Brooks highlighted J.T. Miller, who "had an “F” game, guilty of a pair of egregious defensive-zone turnovers with the first leading directly to Anaheim’s first goal midway through the first period and the second creating the faceoff from which the Ducks got the game-winner in breaking the tie early in the third." I wish he was the only one, but poor communication and read by both Ryan McDonagh, whose play has fallen off recently, and Mike Zibanejad resulted in the turnover that led to Josh Manson's shorthanded goal and 3-2 lead for Anaheim. Though much of that miscue lands on Zib. Add in a missing Buchnevich and the remaining two-thirds of Miller's line and you have a recipe for disaster.
Nick Holden and Marc Staal were the Holden and Staal from January, meaning each struggled again, Staal especially on the first goal of the game, though he did create the Rangers' first goal with a beautiful head man pass to Rick Nash. Brendan Smith wasn't particularly good, burned on the game-winner when the puck went over his stick and Andrew Cogliano get behind him to convert Ryan Kesler's shot on goal directly off his right wing faceoff match against Derek Stepan.
On the flip side, Nash scored his fourth goal in four games after having gotten four in the preceding 27 contests. Nash is getting hot at the right time and hopefully maintains this streak for a while. A beautiful tic-tac-toe passing playing between Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello and Stepan led to the goal by Stepan. When he flubs the shot, it goes in, when he strikes it with authority, the puck goes ping, ping, ping off both posts and the crossbar. Other than those four, maybe Jimmy Vesey was solid, possibly the same with Oscar Lindberg, but that's about it.
Clearly not good enough for any game, let alone one this time of year. Kevin Klein made his return to action, playing with Ryan McDonagh. The best you can say is that Klein played with McDonagh. Look for Dan Girardi to be back in Tuesday against San Jose. I would rest McDonagh once the Rangers clinch the playoff berth and seventh seed, giving Klein and Clendening and Kampfer a game for each one of the veteran d-men.
Lundqvist was solid at times and showed his rust as well. Not surprising, seeing that he hadn't played in three weeks. His teammates didn't help him much either. But Lundqvist will get about five more games to scrape off the rust and regain that focus and anticipation he had during his hot streak earlier this year. The Rangers' position in the division and conference allows Lundqvist the time and luxury to not have to be at his best yet. That time will come in about two weeks.