The defending Stanley Cup Champions proved once again that they are the cream of the Atlantic Division.
For the Rangers, they were more like warm milk.
With a host of new characters, the Rangers began tonight with a fresh start. A more offensively minded coach with a group of faster, better conditioned players. Yet, it seemed like much of the same.
Remnants of the 2008 – 09 season crept up as the Rangers couldn’t muster much offense, particularly late in the game when it counted.
The game even started on a sour note.
An early defensive gaff by Michal Rozsival seemed like an omen for the Rangers question marks. Porous defense compounded by quick competition. An inability to be consistent. And an overall lack of leadership on the blueline.
Follow that with a holding penalty by Captain Chris Drury and the Rangers would find themselves down 1 – 0 not even halfway through the first period.
However, the Rangers gained their composure and kept it competitive as Drury answered back to tie the game at 1 – 1 late in the first period.
But some of last season’s demons continued to creep up as the Rangers were again unable to capitalize on the man advantage, ultimately going 0 – 4 on the game.
At key points, especially late in the third period, the Rangers just could not get shots through on their opportunities.
What was unfamiliar was the penalty killing. The standout squad from a season ago wasn’t faced with much work, but allowed an Evgeny Malkin power play in the second period that was caused by some missed positioning in their own end.
Yet, one game is not enough to send the masses marching.
There were some bright spots for the Blueshirts.
First, defender Matt Gilroy had a stellar game and even when caught up ice, showed the ability to back check and break up plays.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t at his “A” game, but had a stellar outing and didn’t have much opportunity on any of the goals.
Holdout Brandon Dubinsky looked strong and had some flashes of vintage Scott Gomez through the neutral zone. His strong play down the boards, similar to the final preseason game at MSG, led to an important goal by his Slovakian linemate.
The biggest free agent splash of the summer in Marian Gaborik, made waves. He put home Dubinsky’s bouncing puck in the slot to pull the Rangers to within one goal midway through the third period.
Yet that was as far as it would go.
The Rangers couldn’t gain any momentum and Pittsburgh continued to pressure in their own zone, never allowing any setup time for the Rangers offense.
So now we look to tomorrow night as the Blueshirts return home for the home opener against the equally re-tooled Ottawa Senators.
Blueshirt Bulletin will be there.
Catch us in front of the Garden on 7th Avenue prior to warm-ups and tell us why you like the 2009 – 10 team. The clips will be posted on the brand new BlueshirtBulletin.com.
Check out Pucks On Broadway for tonight’s Fact or Fiction!