Rangers vs Avs postgame thoughts and can we please stop the Girardi bashing

Rangers beat the Avs (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Rangers beat the Avs (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Social media applications like Twitter really provide an incredible bird’s eye view into the minds of Rangers fans. Last night, an inferior team almost got the best of the Rangers and yet some people walked away from it saying the Rangers played a great game.

I’m sorry, but beating the Avalanche by one goal, against their back up is not my idea of a great performance. Matter of fact, even though the Rangers buzzed in the offensive zone for a large portion of the game, they didn’t generate the quality chances the Avalanche did.

For the most part, New York was also out-hit and out-muscled for a number of pucks. They didn’t make the most of their chances, and if it wasn’t for a 21 second spurt in the middle stanza, they may have lost the game.



Emerson Etem who was invisible last night, actually drew the penalty that led to Derek Stepan‘s PP goal to tie the game. That was followed quickly by rookie phenom, Oscar Lindberg who saw an opening and fired in the game winner from a sharp angle. Afterwards he said, “when you have an opportunity to shoot, you take it.” Can Lindberg please tell that to everyone of his teammates please? The best example of this came with an empty net and Derick Brassard hitting Mats Zuccarello with a wide open net. Instead of firing it immediately, Zucc passed it to Viktor Stalberg in the middle who was met by two Avalanche defenders and eaten alive. Madness.

Back to Etem, he doesn’t belong on the 1st line. Please take him off there and promote Jesper Fast or J.T. Miller. Etem should be on the 4th line at this point, let’s not kid ourselves about this. At least not until he shows some consistent effort and determination. The more I watch him, the more it appears to me he is either lost/confused out there. Maybe he’s too nervous and doesn’t want to make a mistake…either way you can’t play hockey like that. The kid needs to develop on the 4th line with 2 responsible defensive players. Let him learn the system there and then gradually move him up.

Rick Nash who sat last night with a bad back, will also likely miss this contest too. Even if his back is fine, I think the Rangers will just be cautious and hold him out to the next game Tuesday at home against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Hey Chris Kreider! Please start hitting the net and burying your chances. Seriously, at this point Kreider couldn’t finish a Happy Meal nonetheless a play.

On defense, can we please stop bashing Dan Girardi because it’s becoming embarrassing. Girardi and McDonagh once again had a bad night on the fancy stats charts. Let’s ignore the fact that they faced the Avs best offensive players all night long in Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie. Those 3 combined for +21 Corsi For and G and McD were a -18. MacKinnon scored on the PP after Girardi thought he had a chance to make a play on the kid. MacKinnon made a power and skill move and got a step on Girardi, faked a move behind the net and came out front quick to beat Henrik Lundqvist on a bad angle. Instead of crediting the kid for making a world class play, the usual suspects took to twitter to annihilate one of the Rangers better defenseman. Yes…I said it! Dan Girardi is a vital player for the Rangers Championship dreams. Let’s remember, he had surgery this offseason. His game has come along in the last week and I look forward to the continued improvement.

Yes, Dan Girardi has a big and long contract. A contract any of the teams in the league would’ve given him which is why he’s getting this scrutiny from the advanced stats community. Many of those still lament the loss of Anton Stralman but forget that in the ECF last year he was at a 43% CF. Maybe Stralman isn’t a top pair defenseman? Maybe playing with stud defenseman Victor Hedman makes him look better than what he is (Here come the WOWY charts)? Just saying.

Oh! For what’s it worth, last night where it really counted…on the scoreboard, Girardi and McDonagh kept those 3 stars off the board 5 on 5. Actually Girardi and McDonagh finished the game +2. Sometimes I wonder if when they see these stats it doesn’t actually alter the way they view Girardi versus other defenseman? In other words, every single miscue he makes (that basically I see made by almost every defenseman in every NHL game) isn’t blown way out of proportion. It’s an honest question. In the same way they fault those for just relying on their eyes to make an analysis, are they at fault for letting those numbers making their eyes prejudice and biased? It’s certainly something they should think about.

Dan Boyle will likely make his return tonight meaning Dylan McIlrath will sit. In all honesty, I didn’t think McIlrath could cut it on the Rangers. So far, he’s making me eat my foot and deservedly so. The big kid is not only playing smart, but his skating is much better than I gave him credit for. He’s also making quick and smart decision with the puck and is using his size to rub out players. I like what I’m seeing.

In goal tonight, expect to see Antti Raanta in net and another rock solid performance. This guy has been a find and if the Rangers have another great season with Hank playing less than 70 games, big kudos to Jeff Gorton. Being forced to move Cam Talbot and finding a cheaper and just as good replacement is a great job.

Enjoy the game folks and like always…chime away in the comments section.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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