Rangers Split Season Series With Nashville With Loss At The Garden
The Rangers returned home from a four-game West Coast road trip that saw the Blueshirts earn five of the possible eight points. David Quinn’s squad outshot their opponent 41-24, but the Nashville defensemen scored four times to lead the visiting team to victory.
Chris Kreider – Just 34 seconds after the Predators took a 1-0 lead, the veteran winger tied the game. Mika Zibanejad made the defensive play in the neutral zone to strip the puck and send Kreider in all alone. The longtime Ranger beat Saros between the legs for his eighth tally of the year.
Kreider had six shots on net in this one and used his speed to get in on the forecheck and try to make plays. He did have five giveaways as well, so you take the good with the bad, but Kreider was as engaged as the play as I’ve seen in a while.
Artemiy Panarin – He could’ve easily had a hat trick in this one, but Artemiy Panarin settled for just one tally, which was the Russian’s 20th goal in his premier season with the Blueshirts. Earlier in the game, Panarin took a shot that hit the post and then the Nashville goaltender before spinning on the goal line but never completely crossing the line.
Panarin’s tally came with the Blueshirts trailing 3-1 in the third, taking the pass from Zibanejad and wiring one behind Saros. The 2015-16 Calder winner now has 43 points on the season, as he continues his more than point-per-game production.
Officiating – If you’re a reader of these recaps, you know that I don’t usually go after the officials after a particular game. However, the penalty calls, or lack thereof in some cases, warrant further scrutiny.
From the beginning of the game, it seemed like the night’s referees, Jean Hebert and Kelly Sutherland, had little to no control over what transpired on the ice in front of them. As Steve Valiquette mentioned on the postgame show on MSG, the players had no idea what was expected of them when Brendan Lemieux got called for interference for a push in front of the net on Roman Josi, who fell down on the play.
Unfortunately, that was just the tip of the iceberg for tonight’s crew. In the second period, Pavel Buchnevich was caught with an elbow to the side of the head from Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis. The principle point of contact, which was the head of Buchnevich, was clear to see, but the referees only gave Ellis a two-minute minor penalty on the play. Buchnevich was forced to head to the locker room for further evaluations, though he would return later in the game.
And in case you think the referees were done making poor decisions, you would be sorely mistaken. In the second period, while Jesper Fast is on the ice after battling for a rebound, Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro delivers a handful of crosschecks to a defenseless Fast. Nevermind the fact that this is a highly dangerous play from the young defenseman, THE REFEREE IS RIGHT THERE! And what is the outcome of this post-whistle scrum? Fabbro rightly is called for roughing but Fast is also called for holding. I guess holding onto your opponent to try and defend yourself while getting crosschecked and fallen upon is a penalty.
But wait, there’s more! Brendan Lemieux was given a 10-minute misconduct penalty in the second period. What was the egregious action that warranted such a heavy punishment? A nudge on the shoulder and responding to a stick tap from Roman Josi.
Simply put, the officials in this one didn’t do what they are supposed to do: ensure the safety of the players in front of them. Are there the occasional soft calls every now and then? Sure. But what we saw here was an inept performance from people paid to be much better. I don’t have any realistic hopes, but the league has to step in and do something about the horrendous officiating that occurred at MSG.
Alexandar Georgiev – The Rangers netminder stopped 17 of the 20 shots he faced, and he probably wants one of the goals against back. The first Nashville goal redirected off of a Rangers player in front and snuck through Georgiev. The second goal was one that probably should’ve been saved, though there were mistakes all around. Jacob Trouba turned the puck over in the neutral zone, leading to an odd-man rush. When Brendan Lemieux got back to cover the man cutting to the net, Adam Fox didn’t step up to cover Roman Josi and instead drifted back towards the net. This gave Josi room to walk in and use Fox as a screen for his shot, which beat Georgiev up high. The third Nashville goal was a breakaway for Mattias Ekholm out of the penalty box. The Rangers tried to force a pass to the point, which got knocked out to center for Ekholm who beat Georgiev with a deke to the forehand. Georgiev gave his team a chance, which is all you can ask from your goaltender.
Next Game: The Rangers return to action on Friday night as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden. Puck drops at 7!
LETS GO RANGERS!!