This is flat out ridiculous.
The Rangers lost to Pittsburgh 5-2 and have been outscored 12-4 coming out of their bye-week.
Several season-long trends continue to haunt the Blueshirts and as the year progresses it makes you wonder if they’re reversible.
From Day One the Rangers defense has been shockingly poor.
Last offseason the Blueshirts “revamped” their defense by signing Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith, while releasing Dan Girardi and having Kevin Klein retire.
On paper their defense should be vastly superior to last year’s group, but it isn’t.
Shattenkirk and Smith are just part of the problem. Although, the constant miscommunications and blown coverages are a teamwide issue that isn’t unique to just them.
And the most surprising deficiency is the Rangers’ lack of effort.
In today’s NHL it’s hard to play a full 60 minutes every night. Most good teams play roughly 55 minutes per game.
But the Blueshirts? They play 10-15.
You cannot win games when you are routinely getting outworked, outshot and outclassed by your opponents.
The NHL prides itself on parity. On any given night any one team can beat any other team.
With the way the Rangers are playing, it often feels like they’re out of games before the first period is over. Even if the score doesn’t reflect that.
And their loss to Pittsburgh is the perfect example.
The Penguins came out jumping. The Blueshirts did not.
Patric Hornqvist scored just 3:14 into the game; giving the Penguins the 1-0 lead.
12 minutes later, Michael Grabner stripped Evgeni Malkin of the puck and shot up the ice on a breakaway. Grabner faked once then roofed the puck over Tristan Jarry; tying the game.
And four minutes later, Vinni Lettieri showed off his deft passing skills by wiring a perfect pass to Brendan Smith from behind Pittsburgh’s net.
Smith one-timed it through Jarry’s arm slot and off the post, into the net; giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead they likely didn’t deserve.
The Penguins came out in the second period determined to take back control of the game.
And they succeeded.
Pittsburgh placed pressure on the Rangers and forced the visitors into taking consecutive penalties.
The Blueshirts’ penalty-kill held up but their momentum was shot; the Penguins took full advantage.
Dominik Simon scored his first career NHL goal; tying the game. And 1:15 after Simon’s marker, Phil Kessel followed with his 20th of the year; making it 3-2 Penguins.
The third period was more of the same as Pittsburgh continued to beat the Rangers to every loose puck.
Goals by Sidney Crosby and Carl Hagelin iced the game.
Pittsburgh won 5-2 outshooting the Blueshirts 47-26.
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
PENALTY-KILL: The Rangers went three-for-three on the PK; extending their stretch of successful penalty kills to an impressive 88 of 100 (88% success rate).
HIS MAJESTY: Normally when your goaltender yields four goals he had an off-game. Not this time. Henrik Lundqvist is the ONLY reason the Penguins didn’t hang a 10 spot on the Blueshirts. With the quantity and quality of chances that Pittsburgh sent his way, Lundqvist can be forgiven for only making 42 saves.
The Rangers face Claude Giroux and the Flyers Tuesday (Jan. 16) at MSG. Game time: 7:30 p.m. ET. Broadcast: NBCSN and MSG Network.
The Rangers’ season is slowly starting to get away from them. And if they have any aspirations of making the playoffs then they better turn things around now.
And it was clear the team missed Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Hayes; both missed the game with injuries.
The only positive to come out of tonight’s game was that Rangers fans in attendance got to make a cool road trip.
Ukraine born, and Brooklyn raised fan, Olesya Egelova, shared her experience following her favorite team’s disappointing loss:
“It was a great feeling cheering them on in a different city.”