Quick Hits – Rangers vs Penguins 12/20
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Here is my Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 7-2 loss to the Penguins
Matt Puempel – One of the hard to find bright spots in this game was the goal by Matt Puempel. With the Rangers trailing 1-0, Puempel came down the wing and fired one off the glove of Murray and into the net. The goal came after a couple of good shifts for the Blueshirts, who were outshot in the first 22-9. This was the lone offensive bright spot for the Rangers in the first, and it was not like it was a pretty play. You always like seeing the bottom six players scoring goals, but not when its at the expense of the top six.
Michael Grabner – The other bright spot was Michael Grabner. Grabner had a couple of breakaway chances in the second period, including one off the post, and cashed in during the third period. The Rangers had an odd-man rush early in the third when Stepan sent a pass across to Grabner who put it in on the short side. It gave the Rangers a glimmer of hope, but the Penguins roared back with four unanswered goals. If this gets Grabner back the scoring touch he had early on, it will be a nice bonus when the team gets healthy.
Ryan McDonagh – This was not a typical game for Ryan McDonagh. The Rangers captain had one of his most forgettable nights in a Rangers sweater. He was on the ice for three of the Penguins third period, and had one of those bounce in off of his skate. I wouldn’t worry about this performance effecting him the rest of the season. He’ll get it out of his head, and be ready to go in the next one.
Kevin Klein – If there were any doubt that Kevin Klein has been sub-par this season, tonight should have been the final nail in the coffin. Though not on the stat sheet, Klein had numerous mistakes, seemed out of position, and turned the puck over in his own zone a few times. He is never shy to join the rush, but that decision can (and usually does) backfire. Klein could use a long break to get his game back on track, and with the holiday break coming up, I think he should be scratched in the next game on Friday. Give Adam Clendening the spot and give Klein a good week or so to “get away” from the rink and let him get refocused for the end of the season.
Antti Raanta – If not for Raanta, the Penguins could have easily put up double digits. Pittsburgh had 5 shots in the first 2 minutes of the game, and had a total of 47 for the game. When your goalie gives you 40 saves, you have to give him more help. If not on the scoreboard, at least don’t make the defensive mistakes that the Rangers made in this one. This game is definitely not on Raanta. He had no chance on most if not all of the goals against him, and Henrik probably wouldn’t have had a different result.
Special Teams – This was the first time in a long time that the Rangers special teams was awful. The power play was 0-3 and barely got any shots on the net of Matt Murray. As for the penalty kill, it was not a good game, as the unit went 2-5. As Sam Rosen mentioned numerous times, this was the first time this season that the Rangers PK gave up more than one goal in a single game. The Penguins have the 6th best PP in the NHL and they showed why in this game.
Effort and Energy – The Rangers looked like they were running on empty from the opening puck drop. This game was the Rangers ninth in 14 days, and the previous two games had both gone to a shootout. And while there is no excuse for giving up seven goals to any team, let alone the defending champions, you can understand why this team was gassed. The two day break over the next couple of days before the Friday game should help, and then the Rangers won’t have a game until December 27th. Hopefully it will re-energize the team for the rest of the season.
NEXT GAME: The Rangers will look to enter the holiday break on a positive note when they take on the Wild at the Garden on Friday night. Puck drops at 7!
LETS GO RANGERS!