Quick Hits – Rangers vs Blue Jackets 1/31/17
Here is my Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 6-4 loss to the Blue Jackets
Jimmy Vesey – It had been an uneventful month of January for the Rangers rookie. Vesey had not found the back of the net all month long, but he was able to score his 12th of the season in this one. Shortly after the Blue Jackets took a 6-0 lead in the third, Vesey fired a shot from a horrible angle that Korpisalo misplayed and the puck went in. Vesey has really been struggling lately, and I can only hope that this one gets him going. He was signed with so much hype and fanfare, that fans may have expected the second coming of Paul Kariya or Luc Robitaille. He is going through the normal rookie slump, but he needs to get back on track to being the player everyone thought they were getting.
Michael Grabner – As I have said over and over, Michael Grabner has been the biggest surprise amongst the Rangers forwards. He registered his 22nd goal of the season, tipping in a beautiful feed from Brady Skjei past Korpisalo. Grabs has been one of the most consistent players in the NHL this year, and has really helped carry the Rangers offense.
Chris Kreider – The Rangers power forward notched his 19th of the year, taking the puck at the side of the net and powering it around the outstretched Columbus netminder. He has the ability to score goals, but he can score so much more if he would use his skill set to the fullest. Too many times we see him turn his back to a defender in a 1v1 situation; and all that does is kill his forward momentum and speed. He has to be more willing to take on defenders and use his strength to get pucks to the net. We have all been waiting for him to play to his full potential, and he is almost there.
Mats Zuccarello – Mats Zuccarello plays with passion, tenacity and a relentless desire to possess the puck at all costs. The whole fan base loves him, including myself, but in this one he let his emotions get the better of him, and it cost the team. With the Blueshirts down 2-0 early in the second, Zuccarello was on the receiving end of a cross check from Blue Jackets’ winger Josh Anderson. Rather than the Rangers going to the power play, Zuccarello retaliated and was called for a penalty. During the ensuing 4v4, the Rangers went down 3-0. I’m not saying that the goal is on Zuccarello, not at all. But without his penalty, the Rangers would’ve had a chance to score a goal of their own on the man advantage.
Kevin Klein – Kevin Klein has not done a good job on the blue line this year, and I think that’s being generous. Klein scored his first of the season to cut the Rangers deficit to 2 with just over a minute to go in the third. But he isn’t on the ice for his slap shot. He is on the ice for his defensive abilities. And boy have those been lacking this season. He made numerous defensive mistakes, and was on the ice for the Blue Jackets’ third, fourth, fifth and sixth goals on the night. At one point, in an attempt to make a breakout pass, he ended up making a perfect pass to Nick Foligno which eventually led to a goal.
Here is the problem facing the Rangers. Klein has not been anywhere near the player he was last season, and he has been more of a hurt for the Rangers than a help. Adam Clendening has not done enough in the minds of the coaching staff and/or management to warrant more ice time. And the Rangers don’t seem to have a better option on defense in the minors that they trust enough to call up. The Rangers defense has been the biggest issue for the Blueshirts this year, and if the front office doesn’t figure out something soon, this team will not be able to make a serious playoff run this year.
Henrik Lundqvist – Henrik Lundqvist showed his emotions after another bad night for the Rangers goaltender. He has not been his usual self all year, and in the month of January, he has not been good. During January, he gave up three or more goals in six games, gave up 35 goals, and had a GAA of .879%. I don’t have much more to add to what Kevin Weekes says in this clip, so I’ll let him do all the talking for me. But here is what I will say: Henrik is the best European goaltender in NHL history, he is the best goaltender in Rangers history, and he will figure it out.
NEXT GAME: The Rangers will look to bounce back on Thursday night in Buffalo when the Blueshirts take on the Sabres. Puck drops at 730!
LETS GO RANGERS!