It is to be hoped that last night's loss to Montreal was an aberration and not of things to come down the stretch. After all the Rangers had beaten Le Habs in the two previous meetings and the last one a 4-0 shutout at MSG on February 27th. But there were eerie familiarities of games past that were lost in similar fashion. The dreaded two goal lead, the inability to pad the lead, the sudden breakdowns, the inept power play all led to a big defeat for the Blueshirts in the House of Horrors.
On paper the power play looks strong. It ranks eight in the NHL with a 18.8%. Last night it was 1-6. The problem is that Renney has gone back to old habits with the return of Shanahan and Straka. The power play was on the ice for 10:04. Jagr got 7:05, Nylander 6:41, Straka 6:03 and Shanahan only 3:31. Nylander (24) scored the only goal assisted by Shanahan and Rozsival. Rozsival got 6:27 of PP time and had no shots on goal the entire game. Thomas Pock had only 2:24 of PP time and did score his third goal of the year but not on the PP. For the game Jagr and Shanny shot blanks with seven and six shots on goal. Straka, in 18:58 of ice time had one shot on goal but many pirouettes. This line must be broken up and a north south forward added to the line and Nylander back to the second line between Shanny and Avery.
The penalty killing while ranking tenth with a 84.1% is starting to bend. It gave up a PP goal to the Islanders and last night gave up two, both to Kovalev (17,18) as the Canadiens were 2-5 on the PP. The Rangers committed five penalties in the second period but so did the Canadiens. As there were some offsetting penalties the Rangers went 0-2 in the second period and the Canadiens were 2-4. There it was, game, set and match.
While Lundqvist was removed in the second period it was Stephen Valiquette who took the loss. He gave up two goals on ten shots. It was almost an even split in time in goal with Lundqvist getting 29:47 and Valiquette logging 30:13. So Lundqvist got the rest that Renney wanted to give him. With five games to go there is no rest for the weary.
The defense had a few mixups but this happens with the pressure of all must win games. I guess I am still confused why Jason Strudwick is playing. We can't use him in the playoffs. I would rather have seen David Liffiton in there until Tyutin comes back. What bothers me, and I know that I have mentioned it before, is that Thomas Pock will probably sit when Tyutin and Rachunek return. I think he is an asset bringing speed and offense, three shots plus the goal last night.
So the Rangers get three days of rest before playing the Flyers at Philly Saturday night. They need all hands on deck on what promises to be a potential brawl for the final game of the season between these two hated rivals. My son reminded me that the last time we won five in a row, in December, we went into the tank on a seven game losing streak. Can't happen again, there are only five games left in the regular season. Is it now time for Jaromir Jagr to start carrying the team on his shoulders?
March 28, 2007
Rangers wilt under second-period shelling
Rangers Can't Take The 6th
Red-Hot Blueshirts Humbled By Habs