Oh Crap! Here come the Caps
That headline is probably the most honest headline you will read today. Let’s face it, the Rangers are a mess and have the confidence of computer geek with plaid pants surrounded by GQ male models at a sorority pool party.
These Blueshirts are playing bad. To a man, I can’t honestly say anyone is playing above average. What I can say is that most of these guys are playing well below average, especially Rick Nash who has been abysmal all over the ice.
Mats Zuccarello who vented his frustration on a garbage bin, isn’t playing very well either. Still, he looks like the most dynamic forward they have and seems to be dragged down by the subpar play of his teammates.
Dylan McIlrath and Tanner Glass (yes, Tanner Glass) are both playing surprisingly well. That would mean something if the rest of the Rangers were just playing ok. Instead, what they have been doing is being overshadowed by the horrid play of the top guys.
Derek Stepan returned after a 10 game absence due to broken ribs and looked ok. To be fair, he’s coming back from an injury and is wearing protective gear that likely restricts his movements. Kevin Klein should be returning to the lineup today and that might be the best news we’ve heard in ages.
One Ranger who continues to get a pass is captain, Ryan McDonagh. Too many people have blamed Dan Girardi for McD’s defensive issues but Girardi has been out with a swollen knee and McD hasn’t been much better.
How about this shocking info from the NY POST:
Of the 32 five-on-five goals the Rangers have allowed in these past 13 games, Ryan McDonagh has somehow been on the ice for 18 of them. Marc Staal has been on for 12, Dan Girardi (sidelined the past three games) on for 11, Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle for eight; Dylan McIlrath for three.
When Girardi comes back after Christmas, who do you sit? To me the answer is Dan Boyle but in fairness he’s actually playing decent. Marc Staal would be the obvious choice but that likely won’t happen. Keeping Girardi off ice isn’t going to take place, especially after the Rangers appear worse without him (i.e. Winnipeg). Unfortunately, AV is going to take the easy way out and bench Dylan McIlrath which would be the wrong decision. Best case scenario is a platoon situation with Boyle.
Lundqvist subtlety calls out team
By the way, no one is really talking about it but after the loss in Winnipeg, Henrik Lundqvist called out his team. When he was asked about the Rangers current state of play and the losing he took a roundabout shot by talking about himself. Yes, he basically said that right now it starts with him having to be basically perfect which we all know is unrealistic. What he was saying is that since the Rangers obviously don’t play defense he has to make more incredible saves. I don’t think many picked up on that.
Riding into town are the red-hot Washington Capitals who are winners of 4 straight, and are 12-2-1 in their last 15. They also have a road record of 10-3-1 on the year and lead the Metro Division by 6 points over the 2nd place Rangers. If that wasn’t bad news enough they hold 3 games in hand on the Blueshirts.
So do these Rangers rise to the occasion and continue to haunt the Washington Capitals? They knocked them out of the playoffs last year after being down 3-1 and beat them in their first meeting this season. Sometimes teams just have another team’s number, let’s hope that’s the case today.