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Rangers collapse late in loss to Nashville; Defensive game still lackluster

Bobby Bevilacqua

What on earth was that?

rangers vs predators 12-28

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Rangers (20-13-4) had a long, six day break to recuperate and get ready for their game against the Nashville Predators (18-12-6). So what do they do? Come out with almost no offense at first, rebound for a good second period, and then completely fall apart in the third, ultimately losing 5-3.

There’s no other way to say it. This team is fragile. They’re broken. This isn’t a slump, and it isn’t a passing fad. This is their reality. As they are currently constructed, they are not a great hockey team. They aren’t playing like a good team either. Something needs to change. There needs to be a move made to inject life into the lineup.

Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein made their return to the lineup. Klein was okay, but it’s no coincidence that when Girardi returns, the defense goes to shambles. The McDonagh-Girardi pairing is woefully ineffective, Staal was terrible, and McIlrath was sitting in the press box. The defense is just bad, making too many errors, blowing coverages and missing assignments. Read the rest of this entry

Rangers return from break to take on the Predators; Klein and Girardi expected to play

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs predators 11-23

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After a long holiday break, given a chance to recuperate and take a mental break, the Rangers (20-12-4) head down to Music City to take on the Nashville Predators (17-12-6), the first game in a three game road trip.

This is the second and final matchup between these two teams this season, with the Rangers coming away with a 3-0 win back on November 23rd at MSG. The Rangers played badly, outshot 31-19, but goals from Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Kevin Hayes secured a win for the home team.

December has been the month that Alain Vigneault and the Rangers seem to figure things out. Two years ago they were playing .500 hockey until a little before Christmas time. Last season, the Rangers started an eight game win streak with an overtime win over the Penguins on December 8th. But this season? They have just a 3-6-2 record this month as of today. Read the rest of this entry

The Rangers are winning but not playing well, is it reasonable to be worried?

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers celebrate a win 11-21

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Watching the Rangers rattle off 16 wins in their first 21 games has been incredible to watch. They’re grinding out tough wins, scoring a lot of goals and not allowing many goals against. They’re the only team in the NHL that is yet to give up 40 goals, and their +28 goal differential is tied with Montreal for the best in the league.

Reading that, you’d probably imagine that this team is cruising along with no problems and nothing to worry about. But apart from the 2-6 start to begin the 2013, the play of the Rangers through the first 21 games has been the most concerning start to a season in recent memory.

Before you say “that’s stupid” or write this off as another blogger being negative about the team, hear me out. I do think the Rangers are still an elite team. I do think they’re in the mix for a Stanley Cup. And I do think this team has room to be much better. But they’ve been downright bad in some situations. Read the rest of this entry

Lundqvist magnificent as Rangers blank Predators in the Big Apple

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers goal celebration msg background 11-23

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

There is nothing more confusing and puzzling in the NHL right now than the Rangers winning formula.

Despite getting outshot 25-7 after 40 minutes, and outshot 31-19 for the whole game, the New York Rangers (16-3-2) managed to survive a barrage of Nashville Predators (11-6-3) shots on net, starting a new win streak of two games.

Chants of “Hen-rik!” “Hen-rik!” were heard throughout the Garden, as the NHL leader in win improved his record to 12-3-2 with his second shutout of the season, a fantastic 31 save performance on home ice. He was the only reason his team was ahead after the second period despite taking five penalties. New York was vastly outplayed for large portions of this game, but Lundqvist gave them the win. Read the rest of this entry

Lundqvist challenges Rangers to be better against Nashville at MSG

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs predators 3-2

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Despite the Rangers (15-3-2) overtime victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday, and a 39 save performance, Henrik Lundqvist was not a happy camper.

In a game that the Rangers led 4-2 with under three minutes remaining, Alain Vigneault’s team squandered the two goal lead, allowing a power play goal, a tying goal from Jaromir Jagr, and then forcing Lundqvist to make a save on Reilly Smith’s penalty shot. It was a disastrous late meltdown that nearly saw the team throw away a second consecutive game.

“I’m still annoyed,” Lundqvist told the team’s official website. “We have to learn our lesson here, especially after last game. We’ve been talking about all the ways we find to win a game, then we found a way to lose a game (Thursday) and almost did it again (Saturday). We need to learn from this and smarten up.” Read the rest of this entry