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Winless road trip as Rangers defense throws away game to the Flames

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs flames 12-12

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

“I feel like sh-t.”

Those were the words from leading scorer Mats Zuccarello after the game, a game that saw the Rangers (18-9-4) salvage a point but throw away a game to the Calgary Flames (13-14-2) in a 5-4 overtime loss. The Rangers are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games and are losing ground in the Metropolitan Division.

Mats Zuccarello scored the Rangers fourth goal to tie the game with just over a minute left to play. But the defensive game from the team was in shambles for the second consecutive night. Despite resiliency from the forward group yet again, it was too big of a hole to climb out of.

Here is the whole quote from Zuccarello:

“Right now I feel like sh-t,” leading scorer Mats Zuccarello told Pat Leonard of the Daily News. “We don’t help each other out right now. Too soft. There are some bounces happening, but we can’t have excuses anymore. We’ve lost too many games here. This is not good. The whole team. We’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror here. We can talk, but I think everyone in here knows this is not good enough at all.”

The team’s confidence has to be at an all-time low. It seems like no matter what they do, things just don’t go in their favor. Defensive breakdowns and miscues blew any chance the team had of winning.

It was a pretty good road period and a pretty typical first period for the Rangers: get outshot early and rely on the goalie to make some big saves, and then start asserting your play later and take over the ice. It worked this time, as the Rangers were able to take a 1-0 lead into the locker room.

Antti Raanta was called upon very early into the game after a defensive breakdown. Rick Nash didn’t cover his man, and Matt Stajan got an open chance at Antti Raanta, forcing the goalie to make a sprawling right pad save.

The Rangers had just one shot on goal in the first nine minute, but slowly began building up some chances. Eventually, JT Miller broke through, scoring the first goal of the game and his first goal in seven games.

Dylan McIlrath didn’t get an assist, but started the play by winning the puck in the defensive zone and making an excellent transition pass to Viktor Stalberg, who dumped it off to Kevin Hayes. Hayes made a nifty move to carry the puck in, slid it to Stalberg, and he sent a backhand pass to Miller to finish up a picture perfect play.

After starting out the period getting outshot 7-1, the Rangers held the Flames to just two shots on goal over the last 12 minutes, and the period finished with the shots even at nine.

The Rangers started out the second period pretty well, controlling play and limiting the Flames chances. New York had just three shots on goal in 12 minutes, but largely controlled possession and had the better chances. However, more defensive breakdowns led to two Flames goals in 17 seconds.

The Rangers two best chances came when they were breaking to the net. Stalberg made another excellent pass to Hayes, who tried to beat Hiller five hole but couldn’t slide it through. Dominic Moore spun past two defender but slid the puck just wide.

The Flames would score their first goal on a bad decision by Keith Yandle. Yandle tried to go across the ice with a pass, but it went right on the stick of Johnny Gaudreau. He fired the puck over the shoulder of Antti Raanta and tied the game at one.

 

Then, Dan Girardi continued his string of egregious errors leading to goals for the opposition. Girardi failed to make the easiest of passes to Ryan McDonagh, and the puck was intercepted by Michael Frolik. The Flames went the other way for a 2-on-1, and Frolik passed it to Mason Raymond for the second Flames goal. The Flames would take their one goal lead into the locker room.

Honestly, what on earth was Dan Girardi doing? The pass he tried to make to McDonagh was extremely simple, yet he couldn’t do that. And then on the breakaway, instead of playing proper defense, he decides to slide on his stomach and make the pass even easier for Frolik to make. Just completely terrible hockey and decision making from Girardi and Yandle.

The Flames would take their one goal lead into the locker room.

The third period started with, you guessed it, another bad defensive play and another bad play from Dan Girardi. Johnny Gaudreau was able to skate freely through the middle of the ice, past Staal and Girardi, and he beat Raanta on the breakaway for his second goal of the game.

Yes, the coverage was pitiful, but my biggest problem was with Girardi’s effort. He totally gave up on the play. I know it’s hard to catch up to Johnny Hockey, but at least try. He stopped skating and his coverage was lackadaisical. Inexcusable.

Just over two minutes after Gaudreau’s goal, the Flames scored their fourth unanswered goal of the game. Matt Stajan backhanded a puck to Joe Colborne, and his first shot was stopped by Raanta. But Kevin Hayes over-skated his defensive assignment and Colbourne sent it into the back of the net. Calgary led 4-1.

However, the Rangers responded with a goal of their own just 16 seconds later, and it was Tanner Glass scoring his first goal of the season, and his second as a member of the Rangers. Dominic Moore took advantage of Hiller’s miscue, getting the puck behind the net and sending it to Glass in front. His first shot was saved but he followed up on the shot and found the back of the net.

A little more than 10 minutes later, Dan Boyle collected his second goal of the road trip on a beautiful play. Boyle outmuscled his defender along the boards, saw an opening, cut to the front of the net and backhanded a shot off of the post and in. The Flames lead was cut to one with less than five minute left.

With 1:45 left in the game, Markus Granlund took a high sticking penalty, and Vigneault pulled the goalie to give the Rangers a 6-on-4 power play. With Chris Kreider setting a screen in front, Mats Zuccarello sent a wrister past Hiller, tying the game at 4 on the Rangers third straight goal, all coming in the final period.

The Rangers wound up bringing the game to overtime, but just like the game in Edmonton on Friday, a late power goal was not enough to give the Rangers a win. In the 3-on-3 overtime, Chris Kreider was caught up ice and TJ Brodie scored on the breakaway.

The Rangers are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games. One of those wins was the 5-4 win over the Hurricanes, with poor defense there too. This team is playing very, very poorly.

Remember, this team was 16-3-2 at one point. Things have gone downhill since then.

For the second straight game, the defensive effort was horrendous. The first three goals were all caused by defensive miscues. You can even argue that Hayes was out of position on the fourth goal too. The bottom line is this team has been out of position and making crucial mistakes far too often.

I don’t know what is going on with Dan Girardi, but it’s been two back-to-back shockers from him. His poor decision making and bad play stood out on the second and third goals. McIlrath is playing 15 minutes a night. It’s time to make a statement and take him off of the top pairing. Give Girardi the sheltered minutes, he needs them.

Good for Tanner Glass. His goal jump-started the Rangers offense and it’s a huge reason why they were able to salvage a point. Glass has really surprised me since being recalled, and I don’t care what corsi says in this regard. Glass has been more effective than Stoll and Etem, and should keep getting ice time, if and only if he can keep up this type of play. Note: he did finish -2, but that was mostly due to being on the ice when the defensive miscues happened.

Also, AV scratched Stoll for tonight. The fourth line was infinitely better without him, and Glass-Moore-Etem had a strong game. Stoll is really only good for faceoffs. He hasn’t been that effective elsewhere.

Viktor Stalberg was excellent in his return to the lineup. He can’t sit anymore. It doesn’t make sense.

The Rangers have two days off before returning to MSG for a game against the Oilers on Wednesday night.

THREE STARS

1) Dan Boyle – 1 G, 1 A, 22:51 TOT

2) JT Miller – 1 G, 1 A, +1, 13:42 TOT

3) Tanner Glass – 1 G, 4 SOG, 2 HT, 11:30 TOT

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Posted on December 13, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Excellent coverage and analysis. Long time Ranger fan very impressed with your truth telling.

    Like

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