Rangers Recall: Done in again by a defensive gaffe

NHL: New York Rangers at San Jose Sharks
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty for the New York Rangers on this Western trek through the Pacific Division. After falling to the San Jose Sharks in overtime on Tuesday, they finished with a record of 1-2-1 for three out of a possible eight points.

The trip got off to a terrible start in Vegas where the Golden Knights took the contest over midway through the first period and never looked back. In Los Angeles, the Kings played it tight in order to win a 2-1 hockey game. New York started slow against the Anaheim Ducks, but rallied for their only victory on this four-game trip. However, last night was another folly of errors in a short time that led to a loss.

“We made mistakes in the third period and it cost us,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “They were able to tie it up and win it in OT. That’s disappointing. Just from the standpoint of being in a position to win a game in the third period and we didn’t get it done.”

Let’s look at some key takeaways in San Jose.

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Rangers Recall: Time to move on

NHL: New York Rangers at San Jose Sharks
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The trip wasn’t all bad?

Aside from the first game against Vegas, the Rangers weren’t that terrible. They outshot their opponents in three of the four matches (117-92 overall), but were outscored 12-9 thanks to some solid performances by opposition goalies, including Mackenzie Blackwood in San Jose stopping 29 of 31 shots.

“It just didn’t go our way,” All-Star Vincent Trocheck stated. “We just didn’t get any bounces. Blackwood played really well. You just can’t be satisfied giving up two goals in the third period and letting a team comeback.”

While the Rangers can’t dismiss their defensive lapses that continue to come in bunches, it’s time to set their sights on the next two games before the All-Star break. A back-to-back set against the Golden Knights at home and the Ottawa Senators on the road need to produce wins.

By picking up a point against the Sharks, the Rangers have increased their lead over the Philadelphia Flyers to five points for the Metro Division. If you are looking for the silver-lining, while the Blueshirts have played around .500 hockey for weeks, no one in the division is really lighting it up.

Erik Gustafsson and Braden Schneider pairing

Once again, a miscue between Erik Gustafsson and Braden Schneider in their own zone led to a goal against. In the third period, a poor pass by Gustafsson behind the net was intercepted leading to the Sharks first goal that started the rally.

“It’s a play that has to be executed,” Laviolette explained. “Gus is a good player and somebody we count on. Just a tough bounce for him.”

Overall, the pairing appears decent with a CorsiFor% of .53 when at 5-on-5. They just seem to have some communication gaffes at the worst times that lead to goals against. A deeper dive at the numbers indicate that the two give up the most goals per 60 minutes of play than any of the Rangers pairings.

This is especially concerning when you take into account the quality of competition they face as the third pair. We all know that the Rangers need to better defensively. That being said, Laviolette and his coaching staff need to work on that third-pairing pronto.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore