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Rangers embarrassed by San Jose in final game of road trip; Time for a reality check

Bobby Bevilacqua

Rangers vs Sharks 3-19

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

After faltering late against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, the Rangers (40-23-8) played one of their worst games of the season, getting completely and utterly dominated by the hottest team in the NHL, the San Jose Sharks (39-25-6). New York closed out the road trip with a 4-1 loss at the SAP Center.

Almost everything about this game was terrible. The puck movement from the defense was awful, with the tangent of Girardi and Staal playing decidedly bad tonight. They allowed 52 shots on net. FIFTY TWO! They only had 26 shots on net. There were potentially two extended offensive zone shifts for the Rangers in the entire game. Only the fourth line finished positive in possession, and the team was collectively a -21 Corsi For. Nothing positive came from this game, and the Rangers limped through this road trip with a 1-1-1 record.

That puts the Rangers at 3-5-1 in the last nine games, and they look just like the team that limped through the entire month of December. There needs to be some sort of closed door meeting, perhaps players only, with Henrik Lundqvist just reaming into this team. Because there have been only two consistent things about the Rangers this entire season. One of them is excellent play from Henrik Lundqvist for almost every start. The other constant has been horrific defense play and no help in front of the net. Something needs to change or this team has a damn good chance of losing to the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs.

The first period wasn’t without its flaws for the Rangers, but it was better than what they had been doing recently. Some of the same problems were there, like puck management from the defensemen, struggling to carry the puck to the neutral zone, and sustaining possession. The Sharks led in shots 16-11, but to the Rangers’ credit, not many of them were Grade-A chances. They kept the Sharks to the outside a lot and limited the damage.

That didn’t mean that Hank didn’t have his work cut out for him. Lundqvist was pretty sharp, making some important stops. But Martin Jones was very sharp for the Sharks, making some high quality saves on good looks for the Rangers.

The fourth line was the best line for the Rangers, and they also had the best scoring chances. Tanner Glass almost scored on a deflection, and then made an excellent play through the neutral zone to get the puck over to Klein and Stalberg in front of the net. Stalberg, Glass and Dom Moore were the only skaters with a positive corsi for (+3). Overall, a decent period for the Rangers and one they had to build on. T

he Rangers were pretty awful in the second period, but by some miracle, they were able to tie the game up late at one. The Blueshirts allowed 21 shots on goal in the second period alone, with the Rangers getting just nine shots at Jones. Through two periods, the Rangers had a -21 team Corsi For, with the fourth line and the defensive pairing of Staal and Boyle being the only positive skaters.

From the get-go, it was all San Jose. The Rangers had one sustained offensive zone shift in the period and didn’t manage a shot on goal. They were back on their heels a lot, defending for most of the period and relying on Lundqvist to keep them in the game.

The Sharks broke through with the first goal of the game after a questionable too many men on the ice penalty against the Rangers. They held off San Jose for most of the power play, but Joel Ward found the back of the net with 11 seconds remaining on the power play. Joonas Donskoi made a fantastic backhand pass from behind the net and Ward snapped his one-timer home for the first goal of the game and his 18th of the season.

Realistically, the Sharks should have had two or three more goals, but Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding, making 20 saves this period. Melker Karlsson was denied by Hank’s pad on an odd man rush. Tomas Hertl was denied from in tight. Brent Burns made a fantastic move on a breakaway, but Hank made a gorgeous left pad save.

Because of Lundqvist, the Rangers were able to generate some pressure with just minutes remaining. Jesper Fast almost scored on a redirection, but Dan Boyle was finally able to score for the Rangers, his second straight game with a goal.

On an odd man rush with Derick Brassard, Boyle received the pass and made a silky smooth move to transition the puck to his backhand and beat Martin Jones for a huge tying goal. In what could be his last game against the Sharks, it was a huge moment for the Sharks all-time leader in points by a defenseman.

The Rangers were lucky to escape the period with a tie, and Lundqvist was the sole reason why.

The Rangers horrific play caught up to them in the third period, with the floodgates opening through the first 10 minutes of the final period. Through 48 minutes, Henrik Lundqvist faced 47 shots, which is an absolute travesty. The defensive play was atrocious, and Lundqvist was pulled despite having a .915 save percentage for the game. Definition of a mercy pull.

Lundqvist started out the third period with two fantastic saves. On another odd man rush, Hank made a save on Chris Tierney, and reacted extremely quickly to kick out the left pad and somehow stop Marleau on the rebound chance.

But the poor defensive play was eventually too much for Lundqvist to handle. It started with Hertl using his size to cut to the net. Lundqvist made a nice stop on Hertl, but absolutely nobody covered the trailing Joe Thornton, and he tapped the puck into the open net to give the Sharks the lead.

On this play, Dan Girardi was beat by Hertl, then Marc Staal decided to tackle Hertl instead of playing defense. And Dan Girardi stood in front of the net and let Thornton score. The $11.2 million wonder twins back at it again. Mats Zuccarello was also lazy on the play and was late on the back check, a problem that has plagued him and Derick Brassard this whole season.

Joel Ward scored his second goal of the game, following another turnover and another odd man rush. His shot snuck through Lundqvist’s pads. And lastly, a turnover from Keith Yandle and Kevin Klein led to another odd man rush and a goal from Pavelski. Lundqvist almost made an incredible save, but the puck bounced off his head and into the net. That would be it for Lundqvist, who finished with 43 saves. Raanta came in and stopped all five shots.

The Rangers will attempt to actually show up to their next game on Monday against the Florida Panthers, this time at MSG.

THREE STARS

1) Henrik Lundqvist – 43 SV, .915 SV%

2) Dan Boyle – 1 G, 2 SOG, 2 BS, 18:08 TOT

3) Tanner Glass – 3 SOG, 4 HT, +4 CF, 12:04 TOT

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Posted on March 19, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Disgusting. No heart at all. Hank is being run over and not one player comes to his defense. Girardi is the human turnstile and turn over machine. Nash is nowhere to be found and Hayes just sucks! The over passing makes me sick! End of rant.

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