Rangers Western Canada trip a nightmare for McDonagh and Girardi

Uff hopes Girardi gets better (NHLI)

Ulf hopes Girardi gets better (NHLI)

I’m confused. The Rangers played one of their most complete games all season at home against the Ottawa Senators. It was a textbook win where it looked like every Ranger understood his role and responsibility, then executed it to perfection.

Most Rangers fans were feeling really good as the Blueshirts headed out on a 3 game Western Canada road trip. There was likely even an air of cockiness as the Rangers have dominated Western Conference opponents in recent memory.

Things were actually looking good in Vancouver until the referees decided to become the center of attention. A horrible call on Jarret Stoll for a delay of game while the Rangers were killing a penalty to Dominic Moore led to a 5-3. Stoll went down and fell on top of the puck and covered it while shielding his body from 3 or sticks jabbing away at his midsection. This resulted in a PP goal and was followed by a bench minor to Alain Vigneault who justly giving the refs “the business”.

The Rangers would tie the game on a Dan Boyle penalty shot only to give up the game winner 30 seconds later. On the ice, Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi who are both having a horrendous road trip. The game winner by Sedin is bad luck for the most part. If you watch closely, it’s Oscar Lindberg who doesn’t pick up anyone and leaves Sedin unchecked. Ultimately, it was foreshadowing of things to come for the pairing.

In Edmonton last night, Girardi and McDonagh were awful. I understand there are advanced stats that make Dan Girardi out to be the worst defenseman the Rangers have had since Jeff Bloemberg. Yet those same people using these stats to put down Girardi are ignoring just how bad Ryan McDonagh has been. While as MSG’s Steve Valiquette pointed out that Girardi took bad routes to the puck, thus making it harder on Lundqvist and the Rangers to defend. It was actually Ryan McDonagh who’s overly aggressive play and failure to make the right reads cost the Rangers last night. The result? The Captain was a -4 and now a -5 on the trip. His partner, Girardi was a -3 and -4 on this trip.

Girardi was on the ice for the first goal against that was on the PP. Lundqvist lost control of the puck and the rebound was put it. On the 2nd goal, you can see Girardi track his man behind the net and McDonagh’s job is to not let the pass through. Both fail at their jobs and the matter was made worse by Dominic Moore going after the same man as McD, leaving Korpikoski wide open.

On the third Oilers goal, McDonagh is overly aggressive and misses a pinch. Of course, every Ranger was terrible on this play, yet Girardi took the brunt for not attacking the shooter? You can watch McDonagh skate in for the best view in the house on the goal. Like it or not, McDonagh was the first domino to fall here causing the calamity that ensued.

This one is ridiculous. Please tell me why McDonagh goes behind the net? Who was he checking? Did he have the puck? No! The matters are made worse when Rick Nash leaves Taylor Hall all alone in front. It’s never a good thing when 2 defenseman go behind the net. McDonagh’s decision here is mind numbing.

Here’s the Oilers 5th goal and every Ranger looks drunk out there. Girardi gets beat and outmanned on the left side wall, but why is McDonagh going to the same side of the ice leaving Nurse WIDE OPEN? Still, emphasis is on how bad Girardi’s been and McDonagh is somehow being dragged down by hisĀ terrible play.

Now here’s the game winner just seconds after the Rangers tied it at 5! Who’s on the ice? McDonagh. Who is his partner? Not Girardi. This time, just like on the Oilers third goal, McDonagh is overly aggressive. His decision to move up causes the chain reaction that follows. Sure, Stoll could’ve covered McD’s rear end, but he didn’t and Dan Boyle is the victim of another terrible decision by McDonagh.

After the game Girardi admitted to his poor play and it has been bad. So has McDonagh’s and he needs to be the leader on this team. At this point, Alain Vigneault simply can’t keep these two together anymore. He has to break them up and do it before tonight in Calgary.

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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