Here is my recap of the Rangers 3-2 overtime loss to the Devils
Kid Line – Having not been able to watch this newly put together line until now, this group played well. They were hard on the forecheck, created chances and got the Blueshirts on the board. With the Rangers trailing 1-0, team captain Ryan McDonagh kept the puck in, and sent it down to winger Pavel Buchnevich. Buchnevich sent a backhand pass to Lindberg in front, who slid it between the pads of Cory Schneider. This line was physical as well, with Jimmy Vesey dropping the gloves when a line brawl ensued toward the end of the second period. If this line can play this way down the stretch, there won’t be any need for “drastic” (i.e. Tanner Glass) lineup changes.
Rick Nash – The Rangers power winger skated like a man in this one. He picked up the game tying goal, which got the Rangers point number 94 on the season. With the Blueshirts on the power play, Nash took a beautiful backhand pass from Kevin Hayes and tucked the puck in on the backhand. If Nash can start to putting the puck in the net down the stretch, he can get his confidence on a high for the start of the playoffs.
Derek Stepan – The Rangers center has been in a bit of a slump to say the least. He was credited with two shots on net, but hit the post a couple of other times. Stepan has only scored once in the last two months, and that has to be weighing on him immensely. He will get himself back on the right side of the ledger. But in the meantime, he just needs to keep his head down and fire.
Special Teams – The Rangers penalty kill has not been firing lately, with the team giving up a goal in each of the last seven games. They are still middle of the pack, and they need to figure it out quickly before it becomes an issue in the playoffs. As for the power play, it has started to show signs of its early season successes. If they can keep moving in the right direction with the man advantage, it can only help them as the playoffs come closer.
The Rangers have registered a power play goal in four of the last six games, tallying six power play goals over the span.
Antti Raanta – When the timely save needed to be made, the Rangers netminder was there to make it. He ensured that the Rangers got at least a point in this one, with save sequences like this one in the third. Raanta has been good for the Rangers this season, but the team has played to a 2-1-2 record in the last five games. Raanta has been steady in net, and while the games have been close, the team has been unable to pull out the full two points. The Blueshirts will comfortably make the playoffs, but you don’t want to go into the playoffs in a “downswing.”
Physicality – With so much hoopla surrounding the Tanner Glass call up, it looks like the team has gotten the message. This game got chippy, and the boys responded. Checks were finished, board battles were fought, and scrums ensued. If the Rangers can play this style and can figure out how to keep scoring, the Rangers become a very dangerous team. If they have four legitimate scoring lines, that can all play physically, then Tanner Glass’s services won’t be needed to give the team a jolt.
“No doubt there was physicality and a little bit of bad blood out there” – Alain Vigneault
NEXT GAME: The Blueshirts are right back at it on Wednesday night, when they face their cross borough rivals at MSG. Puck drops at 8!