Special Teams the difference in 3-2 loss to the Devils

John Dundon

Rangers vs Devils 2-2

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Rangers would’ve no doubt liked a better result in their first game after the All-Star break but wound up losing to the Devils, 3-2 in Newark.

In the end, the Rangers lack of execution on both the power play and the penalty kill were the deciding factor. The Rangers finished 0/4 on the power play and mustered no shots on their first two man advantages of the contest, and the usual suspects were to blame for all Devils goals.

Shoddy net mouth coverages during both of the Devils power play goals resulted in open men sweeping in chances right on the door step, again. Dan Girardi got embarrassed by Joe Blandisi and while Lundqvist admittedly intended to cut the shooters angle down some, no NHL defenseman should be allowing chances off the wing like that.

The absence of Rick Nash was felt in this game on both sides of the special teams battle. Nash has been a dominant influence on the penalty kill in his Rangers career and would have come in handy as the Rangers let two Devils power play goals sink what was otherwise a performance deserving of at least one point.

The Rangers were probably the better team 5 on 5 in what was a highly competitive affair with players clearly feeling fresh off of the all-star break. JT Miller was the Rangers best player by far and there was not a close second.

It was yet another superstar performance for the ever emerging JT Miller who tallied the Rangers only goals tonight, both great shots off of equally great passes from Derick Brassard and Keith Yandle respectively. Miller has emerged recently for a Rangers team missing their best forward in Rick Nash and has been picking up the slack in the wake of Rick Nash and Chris Kreiders lack of production this season.

AV’s Rangers had trouble with the Devils fore-check early on but took control of the play in the first period culminating in Millers first marker of the night. The only goal of the second period was Stempniak’s power play goal scored off a rebound in front. Stempniak, uncontested, batted a rebound into the net while turning around right in Hank’s grill. This prompted a coach’s challenge in the hopes of a phantom goalie interference call to save the day, but had no such luck.

The Devils and Rangers traded chances till the end of the second and went into the third period scoreless. JT Millers second goal of the game was the result of a pretty passing sequence between he and defenseman Keith Yandle, Miller slapped a onetime pass from a bad angle off the glove of Cory Schneider, and into the net. Then, the Rangers broke down as they have far too many times this season.

Joe Blandisi tied the game at 2 after Dan Girardi took a bad angle and got burned to the outside by the rookie, who picked a corner short side on Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist said post game that he should have cut down the angle better, but “it is what it is”. Lundqvist’s frustration has become evident in post-game scrums this season especially of late.

The Rangers got two great chances in tight but Cory Schneider was up to the task. Oscar Lindberg would go on to take an ill-timed penalty that gave the Devils the chance they’d been waiting for. On David Schlemko’s eventual game winning goal, NYR PKers lost the backdoor shooter by over committing to the man in front of the net. From watching replays, it looks like Dom Moore got sucked into the net too far.  Lundqvist tried to slide over to contest the shot but obviously didn’t succeed. This all came after Ryan Mcdonagh missed the net on a shorthanded breakaway.

Led by Rangers captain Ryan Mcdonagh, the fourth and final power play of the game saw the good guys get plenty of quality looks, all to which Schneider said “nah”. Mcdonagh hit the post on that power play and that’s as close as they would come in their search for the equalizer.

This loss is a gut punch for a Rangers team that had without a doubt been keening on a hot start to start a march to the playoffs with a win over a division rival. Instead, the Devils grab two important points and have begun to creep in on the Rangers, who hold the second spot in the Metro division with just a two points behind the Penguins and Devils.

The tone in the locker room was somber has it has been many times this season. Vigneault had his Rangers preaching the same story as they’ve often times told after losses this year. They thought they were fine 5v5, but couldn’t get the job done on special teams, and that’s what this game came down to, too. Alain Vigneault told reporters after the game “We obviously need to get out specialty team unit going and that’s my responsibility.”

Alain Vigneault offered no update on Kevin Klein after Klein was hit from behind by Reid Boucher and jammed his wrist awkwardly into the boards. He immediately went to the dressing room and it did not look good.

The Blueshirts will look to get back on the horse this Thursday at the Garden against Minnesota.

Posted on February 3, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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