First Kostka implodes and then the Rangers follow
Oh boy, but it sure does look like Alain Vigneault’s Rangers like to come out of the gate sputtering. Last night, the Blueshirts had the Islanders where they wanted them, but couldn’t seal the deal and then imploded in the process.
Injuries to Derek Stepan and Dan Boyle are a fact, but in the NHL they can’t be used as an excuse. Michael Kostka replaced Matt Hunwick on defense last night. It was done to restore right/left balance to the defense pairings. After Kostka’s performance, Hunwick looks like Larry Robinson.
Islanders 6 vs. Rangers 3
Rick Nash once again opened the scoring for the Rangers early in the first and then NY recaptured the lead 3:50 into the second. Then Kostka happened.
With the Rangers up 2-1 in the 2nd period, Kostka played the puck behind the net. Not realizing the forecheck pressure coming he coughed it up to Nikolai Kulemin, who hit the Islanders best player, John Tavares in stride for the tie with 4:57 remaining.
Then 48 seconds into the third, Kostka inexcusably played the puck up the middle and found Kyle Okposo alone in the slot – bang 3-2! I assure you it was the finest pass of Michael Kostka’s career. He finished the night -2 with 3 horrible turnovers in just 15:42 of action.
The Islanders would go on to score 3 more goals as the Rangers were victims of bad bounces and overcompensating on plays. Alain Vigneault continued to trot out Kostka for the simple reason, in game 4 of the season of a blowout, there is no need to wear out your players. “You have to give them an opportunity to play through them and contribute, find a way to bounce back,” AV said after the game.
Lundqvist who was visibly frustrated talked about “smartness” on the ice. “I’m playing with good structure, but then I lose my structure a little bit when we as a group lose our structure,” Hank explained. “Together we need to regroup and be better.”
They get that chance soon, Thursday against the depleted Carolina Hurricanes.
P.S. Maybe the Rangers should’ve kept Justin Falk?
1. Rick Nash, that is all! Seriously, this start is amazing and he looks healthy. It’s taken a season and half (lockout year), but this is the player we traded for.
2. Kevin Hayes, he looked amazing last night. He was hard and fast on the puck all game. Hayes used his big body to protect the puck and make plays. Although he finished with a -1, he registered 2 shots, 3 hits and a takeaway in just 13:55 of ice.
3. Lee Stempniak, he continues to put it out there every night and is a huge safety net for young guys. Last night it was with Hayes on the wing. Stempniak picked up an assist yesterday and has 2G and 2A in 4 games. (FYI: Pouliot has 1A in 3 games for the Oilers and makes 4 million dollars a year)
1. Henrik Lundqvist, notoriously a slow starter (when compared to his performance later in the season), Hank looks like he is not playing his game and trying to do to much. Certainly shades of last season. He needs to let the game come to him and it will work out.
2. Mats Zuccarello, the hobbit is finding it a lot tougher sledding this season. Yes, he is probably banged up, but he doesn’t look like the same player from last year. However, he had some moments last night, and all it may take is a goal to get him going.
3. The Entire Rangers Defense, disjointed and indecisive is the best way I can describe their play under pressure. Settle down boys.
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