What’s the old saying? March came in like a lion and out like a lamb?
If we extend those perimeters to the last days of February and the first days of April, it describes the Rangers perfectly.
In the Blueshirts’ 5-2 loss to New Jersey, Tuesday night at Prudential Center, the Rangers showed as much fight as a sleeping lamb.
The trouble started 25 seconds into the game.
New Jersey rushed up the ice, storming the Blueshirts’ zone.
Rob O’Gara was the sole defender on the Devils’ two-on-one odd man rush. And after Henrik Lundqvist made the initial save, Travis Zajac corralled the puck; putting it in the back of New York’s net.
Then, three minutes later, with New Jersey on the power-play, the puck bounded towards MVP-in-waiting, Taylor Hall. Hall promptly fired the puck into the Rangers’ net; giving the Garden Staters a 2-0 lead.
Will Butcher compounded the Blueshirts’ problems seven minutes later; blasting a shot from the point through a screened Lundqvist to give the Devils the 3-0 lead.
In the final two-minutes-and-change of the opening period, boy wonder Filip Chytil deftly navigated the neutral zone and fed a beautiful pass to Jimmy Vesey. Vesey then pulled his own rabbit-out-of-the-hat pass and Ryan Spooner skillfully redirected the puck past Keith Kinkaid; bringing New York with 3-1.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there.
6:53 into the second period, Will Butcher tallied his second power-play goal of the game; upping New Jersey’s advantage to 4-1.
Nine minutes later, Hall added his second of the game — courtesy of a penalty-shot — to give the Devils a 5-1 lead.
A garbage time goal by Kevin Hayes with 5:34 remaining in the third brought New York within 5-2. But that’s as far as the Blueshirts got.
For the Rangers, it was a thrashing that is best erased from all memory banks.
For the Devils, it was another step closer to a playoff berth.
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
BROKEN PENALTY-KILL: The Blueshirts allowed three power-play markers — two from Butcher and one from Hall.
NOT SO SPECIAL SPECIAL TEAMS: Aside from allowing three power-play goals, the Rangers also surrendered a penalty-shot goal to Hall and went oh-for-two on the power-play.
The Rangers face Mathew Barzal and the Islanders Thursday (April 5) at Barclays Center. Game time: 7 p.m. ET. Broadcast: MSG Networks.
If you watched this game you’ll wish you didn’t.
From opening faceoff to final horn, the Devils dominated the Rangers in every way possible.
It’s clear which team is superior, so let’s end things at that.