Alain Vigneault needs to reward Dylan McIlrath, Stepan out with broken ribs

Stepan hurt

Stepan hurt

Dylan McIlrath played only 15 shifts for 10:04 against the Bruins. That was due largely in part to sitting in the penalty box for 17 minutes. It happened in the second period when Matt Beleskey hit Derek Stepan with a late and dangerous hit into the boards.

Instead of skating away like almost every other Rangers’ defenseman would have, McIlrath charged in and blew up Beleskey’s face with his fists. Of course, the trained and watchful eye of the NHL officials just saw McIlrath charge in and start a fight, thus getting a two minute instigator and an accompanying 10 minute misconduct. Almost ignoring Stepan writhing in pain on the ice. Now we learn that Stepan is out with broken ribs.

Unlike, the game in Ottawa, where Chris Kreider did the same thing when Stepan was hit high, the Rangers couldn’t kill off this penalty. The Bruins tied the game up on a Brett Connolly PP goal and it was 2-2 heading into the third. McIlrath of course had to sit out for the remainder of his penalties before seeing the ice again.


The Rangers would go on to lose this game, thanks to some serious chippy play by the Bruins that went uncalled. We can start with the Marchand clip on Henrik Lundqvist right before the Bruins opening goal that Alain Vigneault inexplicably refused to challenge. It’s not like he likes to use timeouts anyway. There were punches by Marchand being thrown in scrums, plus Beleskey went at Zuccarello after crushing Stepan, knowing the New York Pacifists wouldn’t do anything.

Brad Marchand who played a dirty game and hit Lundqvist in the head with his leg skating through the crease was finally called. The Rangers would grab a 3-2 lead on J.T. Miller‘s PP tally but once Jesper Fast took a bad holding penalty, the wheels fell off the wagon.

For what was a pretty strong game by the Rangers overall, was marred by several minutes of abysmal zone play after the Bruins tied it on the PP. With the Rangers scrabbling and tired, they actually had contain on the Bruins. That was until Marc Staal got the puck and failed to clear it. What made matters worse, Staal weakly chipped it to the point and probably should’ve gotten an assist on the eventual David Krejci game winner.

It was just an awful game by the officials and eventually by the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist. I know it is sacrilegious to say anything negative about Henrik, but he needs to find that Krejci knuckleball puck and stop it. Still, it is hard to give him heat when he’s saved the Rangers bacon countless times this year.

Now the Rangers head home to play the Flyers tomorrow. I don’t care what Dan Boyle‘s playing plan is, Dylan McIlrath should be rewarded, not punished for his play today. He finished with a plus one rating and was excellent throughout the game. He was also physical and took the body, which is something these Rangers defenseman simply do not like to do.

It’s time for Alain Vigneault to make a statement. Maybe, Marc Staal or Dan Girardi should take a seat if Dan Boyle “must” play. Hell, even Ryan McDonagh has been atrocious in his own end. Seriously, near the end of the first period he walked away from his man in front to chase the guy behind the net. The result? A point blank shot that Lundqvist stopped.

The Rangers have lost back to back games for the first time since October 13th and 15th. I understand that fancy stats “predicted” this would happen thanks to their recent play. I still think that they are much better than what “those” stats say. Still, you can see that this team needs a shakeup and a good kick in the ass.

They also need someone who will play it tough and keep it simple. Someone who will hit you in front of the net and crack you in the mouth if you touch another one of our stars again. Dylan McIlrath must play tomorrow, it’s the right thing to do.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

Mentioned in this article:

More About: