Despite a gutsy comeback, serious issues emerge regarding Yandle, Girardi, Lundqvist and AV

Should Girardi be demoted? (Getty Images)

Should Girardi be demoted? (Getty Images)

The Rangers took on the red-hot Capitals yesterday and had a 3-2 lead with just seconds on the clock. Under immense pressure in the final minutes and called for icing, Alain Vigneault once again elected on not using his timeout.

If Nicklas Backstrom doesn’t tie the game with ticks on the clock, are we making as big of a deal? Probably not, but the coach opted not to and here we are. Let’s take nothing away from an overall very good performance, but the Rangers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory yesterday thanks to having some tired guys out there.

THE TIMEOUT DEBACLE

[su_quote cite=”NYDN” url=”http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/hockey/rangers/ovechkin-scores-ot-winner-capitals-beat-rangers-4-3-article-1.2491085?utm_content=buffer4addb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=PLeonard+Twitter”]They had their guys that had been out there,” the coach said of the Capitals. “They had used their timeout. Dom (Moore) was out there he was fresh. Our guys knew how we wanted to play 6-on-5. I had the people I wanted out there, and yeah, Mac (McDonagh) might have been a little bit tired there, but we got the puck out. If he was really tired he would have come to the bench. He decided to stay on the ice, so he couldn’t have been that tired. Unfortunately we let a good player in front of the net all alone there.”[/su_quote]

While Vigneault felt the situation was under control, his goaltender did not.

[su_quote cite=”NYDN” url=”http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/hockey/rangers/ovechkin-scores-ot-winner-capitals-beat-rangers-4-3-article-1.2491085?utm_content=buffer4addb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=PLeonard+Twitter”]“Our players were tired, there’s no question,” Lundqvist said of the defensive-zone face-off with 54 seconds to play. “A little break there before the last face-off would have been good, but we didn’t take that break so we got caught out there. They’re a good team. They got a couple looks. Ugh, it’s just frustrating.”[/su_quote]

Maybe Henrik Lundqvist let his emotions get the better of him yesterday. If so, who could really blame him? He was frustrated and rightfully so. Even the confusing explanation of Ryan McDonagh asking for a timeout, then saying he didn’t need one makes no sense at all.

GIRARDI NEEDS TO BE DEMOTED

This season, Dan Girardi has become the Ranger with the biggest target on his back for fan hate. Every season, the fans of the Blueshirts must identify and vilify one Ranger they feel exemplifies everything that is wrong with the team. Girardi has now entered that pantheon of Sorry Rangers from Marek Malik, to Tom Poti and as recent as last year, Tanner Glass.

Despite the fact that he’s been playing hurt all season, he doesn’t deserve the abuse. However, he has made some terrible mistakes every game. The fact is, all defensemen make these errors, it’s just happening to him more often than not.

Yesterday he made an egregious mistake by trying to pass it to Dom Moore in front on the PK. He didn’t see Alex Ovechkin charging in from the boards who quickly stuck out his stick and popped it into an empty net. It’s a mistake I’ve seen made by greats like Brian Leetch and Raymond Bourque, the problem here is Girardi isn’t doing enough to atone for these issues.

Vigneault provided his beleaguered defenseman with an excuse. Somewhat sounding like he was absolving him of any wrong doing. If that’s the case, it would be an injustice to him and the fans. I’m sure AV just wanted to reduce the heat Girardi is already feeling. Still, something needs to give and it’s time Kevin Klein was moved up to play with Ryan McDonagh on the top pair.

Now don’t get too excited because I don’t feel Girardi should be scratched. I’m thinking a pairing with Keith Yandle might be more beneficial for his game. Yandle unlike Ryan McDonagh isn’t as aggressive on offense and doesn’t go in deep too often. Yandle generates offense from excellent breakout plays and sharp passes from the blue-line. This should make it easier for Girardi to defend as his knee gets healthier.

Perfect example of this comes on the Caps breakaway goal by Justin Williams. That’s where McDonagh went to the net and completely fired a pass wide across the goal mouth. It led to a turnover and a quick transition that left Girardi trying to skate backwards to catch Williams. Simply put, these two aren’t working like they used to and it’s time to break them up.

For the record, since everyone forgets…I said this was something to look out for in August.

ANGRY HANK IS A GOOD THING

Let me make this clear…I’d rather have an angry Hank than the dejected looking one we got for the last month plus. He wanted that win yesterday and he wanted it bad. The fact that the Rangers blew it late only makes him angrier.

Does calling out his coach spell doom for Alain Vigneault? Please don’t be silly. Still, on one play late in the third, you can see Lundqvist screaming and waving his arms at Dan Girardi who inexplicably left his man alone in front to move over towards the scrum on the wall. It took a second but Girardi heard him and skated right over to the Capitals player.

This along with the gaffes could find Girardi demoted like I suggested.

YANDLE WANTS OUT?

Yandle (Getty)

Yandle (Getty)

Damien Cox of Sportsnet said yesterday that Keith Yandle does not want to discuss contract extension with the Rangers. Cox added that he expects him to be gone by the deadline. The speculation as to why is because he doesn’t like how AV is utilizing him on the ice. From overall minutes to PP time, he’s unhappy and wants out.

Ok…back up the truck. While we’re at it, let’s get that JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS mat.

Yes, it is very possible that is the case as to why he doesn’t want to negotiate. But what if he simply doesn’t like talking contract during the year and doesn’t want the distraction. His agent and Jeff Gorton have spoken so there was some known contact. In the conversation it could be that Yandle’s agent told Gorton we are going to test the market. If that is the case, he will be traded likely before the deadline on 2/29.

I recently spoke with someone who has learned that Boston has a strong interest in bringing the Milton, MA native home. The main player who could be coming over is power forward Loui Eriksson. The 30 year old does have 14 goals and could easily be placed on the top two lines. Maybe even opening the potential to demote Kreider to the 3rd line or even trade him.

This would be a logical exchange of two UFA’s that will address needs for both teams. Here’s the problem, what did we really get for Anthony Duclair? Even if the Rangers were to re-sign Eriksson, no one would ever condone trading Duclair for him. No, the Rangers would need to get a strong prospect or 2nd or 3rd round pick back.

By the way, Rangers play Boston tomorrow.

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