Kings Power Past Rangers; Defeat Blueshirts 4-2

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Here is our recap of the Rangers 4-2 loss to the LA Kings.

Jimmy Vesey – The young forward was noticeable in this game for more than just his goal in the first period. Vesey was able to collect the rebound on Brady Skjei’s point shot and slid it past goalie Jonathan Quick to give the Blueshirts a 2-0 lead in the opening frame.

But the North Reading, MA native wasn’t done impacting this game. Toward the end of the second period, Vesey stopped up in front of Quick and Kings defenseman Kevin Gravel took exception. After both players and the rest of the players on the ice came together, he and Kyle Clifford got into a verbal sparring match. At this point, the referees decided to give both Clifford and Vesey a 10-minute misconduct. Agree with the call or not, Vesey’s good game had been derailed by only getting two shifts in the third period, totaling 1:27. 

Team Discipline and Special Teams– One thing that was obvious in this game was that the Kings got under the skin of the Rangers. And it all started toward the end of the first period. Brendan Smith, who had earlier been caught with a high hit that resulted in just a minor penalty, decided to cross-check Trevor Lewis, who was in a verbal jousting match with Anthony DeAngelo. Smith then fought Kings forward Adrian Kempe and landed himself in the penalty box for the first seven minutes of the middle frame. Aside from the fact that the Kings scored on the ensuing power play, this was not a good decision by Smith. As I said on our gameday account last night, there is a time and place for a fight and this was not it. The Kings had started gaining momentum and giving them this energy boost heading into the locker room was not something the Rangers needed.

“I’m definitely not crazy about that penalty at that time” – Alain Vigneault/Matt Calamia

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Rangers, although giving up three goals while shorthanded is not good in any way, the Blueshirts got on the board in the first on a goal from David Desharnais. After some good puck movement from call-ups Vinni Lettieri and Tony DeAngelo, Desharnais’s attempted pass deflected off of a Kings player and through the legs of Quick to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead. The man-advantage units have started to get back on track as of late, scoring a PPG in six of the team’s last ten games.

Henrik Lundqvist – As he always does, Lundqvist takes the blame for whenever a puck gets past him. And as the “last line of defense” it certainly makes sense. However, you can very easily make the case that Lundqvist had zero help from his teammates on each of the three goals Lundqvist allowed. On the goal from Jake Muzzin at the beginning of the second, Henrik was screened by Dustin Brown and Ryan McDonagh did nothing to move Brown from Lundqvist’s line of vision. On the second goal, Marc Staal committed one of the worst turnovers I have ever seen. Staal tries to clear the puck up the middle of the ice, which you aren’t supposed to do as it is, and hits Rick Nash. The puck goes to Alec Martinez in the corner, and he finds Michael Amadio in the slot for a wide-open snap-shot that beats Lundqvist. And finally, on the third Kings goal, Tanner Pearson skates to the top of the paint and deflects Martinez’s point shot between the legs of Lundqvist, for what would wind up as the game-winning goal. Lundqvist has had a very good season, getting the Rangers back into the playoff fight after the team’s abysmal October. But his teammates need to help him out or his efforts will go for naught.

“You don’t have to be very bright to figure out why we lost this one,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 26 saves in making his second start in as many days. “We just couldn’t get it done on our penalty kill, and I’m a big part of that, obviously. I have to work even harder to try and find the puck.” – Matt Calamia/Rangers

Stupidity and A General Observation – We have been talking for a while now about how the Rangers are too unselfish with the puck. And while making the extra pass certainly has its place in the game, when you are consistently passing up scoring chances and shots in favor of a pass into traffic, something is wrong. Is it on the players? Is it on the coaches? I don’t know. But I know one thing for sure that is you can’t score if you don’t shoot, and constantly being outshot is not a recipe for success, with the team being outshot in 28 games this season.

And another thing, why is this team still making these stupid mistakes like clearing the puck up the middle while shorthanded? Why can’t this team clear the front of the net? Again, some of this is on the players, but for me, the coaching staff is at fault here as well. They have to drill some of these concepts into their players for the team to be successful.

Finally, it was abundantly clear why the Rangers only had eight shots in the third period, and it is something the Rangers have not done in a long time. Whenever the Rangers have a lead, it seems like they start to go into a defensive shell and allow their opponents to control the game. And with the Rangers trailing the Kings entering the third period, Los Angeles refused to sit back and allow the Blueshirts to turn Jonathan Quick into target practice. The Rangers have struggled closing out games this season, and when they do get the lead, this is something they should look to do. The best way to keep your opponent from scoring is to not let them have the puck, and continuing to apply pressure and forechecking is the best way to do that.

Next Game: The Rangers will look to get back in the win column on Tuesday night when they face the Ducks in Anaheim. Puck drops at 10!


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