Rangers shootout loss to the Sabres not as devastating as it seems
Let me preface this entire article with the fact the Rangers needed to win that game last night. It’s inexcusable to have a far superior team and have to squeak out three points when you should’ve picked up four against the worst team in the NHL. The biggest issue I saw in both these games was the Rangers unwillingness to play a simple north/south game against a lesser opponent.
Taking Mika Zibanejad’s goal out of the mix from Thursday because it was a 3 on 3 OT situation; the Rangers mustered a grand total of four goals against Buffalo. Of the kind of goals scored, only Filip Chytil’s was gained by a scramble in front. Blackwell’s goal and Panarin’s were scored by long passes to the shooter one timing it into the net and Panarin’s power play goal came from the boards with the goalie out of position.
If the Rangers want to win late in the season and eventually in the playoffs they are going to need to score more hard-nosed goals like Chytil’s. Although the Blueshirts fired 77 shots to Buffalo’s 52; they were stymied by Dustin Tokarski and Linus Ullmark. Shesterkin was solid in both appearance and the pucks that beat him came from around the middle of the ice with screens or a scramble in front. The kind of goals the Rangers need more of down the stretch.
Rangers vs Sabres recap
Artemi Panarin now has the team lead in points after scoring twice. He currently has 36 points in 26 games for the Blueshirts on the year. Since returning from a forced leave of absence due to false allegations from a spiteful and politically motivated former head coach, Panarin has 18 points. His six goals and 12 assists in the 12 games after rejoining the club have helped propel the team into vying for a playoff spot. It makes you wonder if they wouldn’t be holding it right now had Panarin not missed 9 games.
Also noteworthy is the play of Rangers defenseman Adam Fox who assisted on both of Panarin’s goals last night. He’s now on a 10 game points streak with 18 points in that timeframe. There’s no question anymore that Fox is now a legit Norris candidate as his 29 assists are tied for first among all defenseman and his 33 points are second to only victor Hedman’s 35 who has played one more game.
Remarkably the Blueshirts had six of their very own first round picks play last night (Kreider, Chytil, Kravtsov, Miller, Kakko, and Lafrenière). As for Vitali Kravtsov’s debut; he was relatively quiet as he was trying to acclimate himself to the team’s style of play and his linemates. He played 10:45 and notched three shots on goal. However, late in the third period he made a Herculean effort on a rebound attempt that Ullmark dove and barely got it with the shaft of his goalie stick.
The silver-lining if you willing to find it was the fact the Blueshirts still picked up a point and remain tied with the Flyers for fifth. They also stay within striking distance of the Bruins who won yesterday. The gap is currently 4 points with Boston holding games in hand. The Rangers close out the season against the Bruins with two games.
“Tonight it was about our breakdowns,” New York coach David Quinn said. “We lost a wall battle, turned it over. I thought we backed off a little too much, which I thought we did a lot tonight. I thought we just gave them way too much room tonight, didn’t pressure the puck. I thought they came through the neutral zone way too easy. I thought the tying goal was just the result of lose a wall battle, turn it over, their guy got it in the high slot. … That’s something we’ve got to do a better job of, for sure.”NHL.com
Post Game Notes
- The Rangers extended their point streak to three games (2-0-1 record). In addition, the Rangers have earned at least one point in nine of the last 12 games (7-3-2 record).
- The Rangers were 1-for-3 (4:24) on the power play in tonight’s contest. The Blueshirts have tallied at least one power play goal in five of the last seven games (8-for-25; 32.0%) and in seven of the last 10 games (10-for-35; 28.6%). In addition, the Rangers have recorded 18 power play goals in the last 23 games (18-for-82; 22.0%).
- The Blueshirts were 2-for-2 (4:00) on the penalty kill in tonight’s game and held Buffalo to only one shot on goal during the Sabres’ two power play opportunities. The Blueshirts have not allowed a power play goal in 23 of their last 30 games (80-for-90; 88.9%), including 17 of the last 23 games (58-for-67; 86.6%).
The team is off today with the next practice scheduled for Monday, 11:00 a.m. at MSG Training Center.
Next Game: Tuesday, Apr. 6 vs. Pittsburgh (7:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG Network)
*Notes courtesy NYR