Here is my recap of the Rangers 4-1 loss to the Capitals.
Brandon Pirri – After his performance in this one, Pirri should either be scratched the rest of the way, or moved at the deadline. Pirri did not have a good showing, and is showing why he has bounced around the NHL throughout his career. Pirri only recorded one shot on net, which came during even strength. The “power play specialist” had nearly four minutes of ice time and did absolutely nothing. Everything we saw at the start of the season and preseason has not translated the way anyone had hoped. Guys like Matt Puempel and Pavel Buchnevich are better suited for the lineup on a nightly basis, especially with the way Pirri’s play has been this season.
Brady Skjei – The lone bright spot for the Blueshirts in this one was the goal by Brady Skjei. Skjei entered the zone and dropped the puck to JT Miller. Miller then fed Clendening cross ice, who hit Skjei in front for the tic-tac-goal. The rest of the night didn’t go as well for the Rangers rookie, who was outmuscled by Connolly on the game winner, and had the fourth Capitals goal deflect off of his stick. Skjei has been the second best defenseman all season for the Rangers, and while it wasn’t his best defensive game, it does not have me worried at all.
Steven Kampfer – All things considered, it was an OK night for the Rangers call up. He was -2 on the night, but did make some good defensive plays. He stopped Alex Ovechkin in a 1v1 situation and blocked a shot by Marcus Johansson right before the Skjei goal. Though Johansson would get his revenge later in the game, when he deflected a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov past Henrik Lundqvist. Kampfer was in poor position on the play, allowing Johansson to get body position and stick position for the goal. Assuming Klein is back for the next game, Kampfer won’t be staying up with the Blueshirts. But he does have good NHL experience, and in an emergency situation like this game, he is definitely serviceable.
Power Play – Here we go. Since the All Star break, the Rangers PP has been an abysmal 3/34 or 8.8 percent. For a power play with guys like Nash, Kreider, Zuccarello, Zibanejad, McDonagh, Skjei, Miller and Hayes, there is absolutely nothing going on during the man advantage. They have gone from 12th in the league (20.7%) before the ASG to 17th in the NHL at 18.5%. And most of their successes came early in the season. AV and Scott Arniel need to figure out something, and they need to do it fast. With the season winding down, they cannot afford to keep passing up these opportunities. Fans wish that the team could “decline” the PP because of its recent ineptitudes. They need to start gaining the zone, and getting pucks to the net. Otherwise, they will lose games down the stretch and won’t enter the playoffs on the right foot.
#NYR Ryan McDonagh on PP: "Not getting enough down there. Weve been talking about it a lot here and it’s frustrating. No question about it."
Offsides Challenge – You can argue whether or not the game was turned on this call, but there is one thing that is for sure: the rule has to change. And I’m not saying this just because the Rangers had a goal disallowed; I’m saying it because the rule doesn’t make sense. If you watch the replay, Grabner’s skate is hovering over the blue line, which by the current rule is offsides. As MSG analyst Steve Valiquette says in this video, the rule should change. The blue line should be extended vertically, so that if a skate is in the air hovering over the blue line, then the play should be called onside.
Henrik Lundqvist – King Henrik played a solid game, but once again got no help from his defense. Aside from maybe the first Johansson goal, which came off of a rebound kicked to him by Lundqvist, Hank didn’t have much chance on the other ones. The Connolly goal came after a failed clear by Clendening, which left the defense scrambling. The second Johansson goal came after a bad job by Kampfer in front, and the final goal came off of a crazy deflection off the stick of Brady Skjei. Henrik has been much better as of late; and even though the team hasn’t gotten the results, Hank is definitely back to the level he needs to be at.
NEXT GAME: The Rangers will head off to Boston on Thursday to take on the Bruins. Puck drops at 7!