BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS: LUCKLESS BLUESHIRTS FALL TO VEGAS 2-1; HEAD INTO BYE-WEEK SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS

In Blueshirt Bulletin Main Blog, News by Blueshirt Contributor

Luck can only take you so far; that’s why gambling is so unpredictable.

And much like a gambler in a rut the Rangers learned that your fortunes can turn on the drop of a hat.

The Blueshirts 2-1 loss can be attributed to the following factors: injuries, flagging offense, inconsistent effort and defensive miscues.

The Rangers are missing their top-line power forward Chris Kreider — out with a blood clot in his right arm. And then they lost Kevin Hayes to a lower body injury during the game.

Early in the first period Hayes received a hit into the boards and quickly headed to the locker room. While he briefly returned — for 17 seconds — in the second period, the injury ended his night.

Adding to the Blueshirts’ woes, they’ve now gone eight straight games without a regulation win; scoring just 16 goals in that span. For a team that heavily relies on its’ offense, scoring two-goals a night isn’t going to cut it.

The Rangers started the game off better than they did against Arizona, but still not clicking on all cylinders.

Then 13:05 into the opening period Mika Zibanejad deftly used a Vegas defender as a screen to rip a wrist shot past Marc-Andre Fleury for the 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately a defensive zone turnover by Paul Carey led James Neal to tie the game just 4:18 after Zibanejad scored.

The Blueshirts played a solid first period, but the game went South from there.

Vegas controlled play throughout the second period as they outshot the Rangers 14-6 and could have had several goals, if not for the stellar play of Ondrej Pavelec.

Then the Rangers came out firing in the third period, but at a cost. The visitors abandoned their disciplined structure and got burned.

8:58 into the third Reilly Smith went through the neutral zone and skated along the left side of the Rangers’ zone. All the Blueshirt skaters leaned left — getting caught puck-watching — and Smith sent a cross-ice pass to William Karlsson.

Karlsson sniped the puck past a hung-out-to-dry Pavelec and Vegas had their 2-1 lead.

The Blueshirts valiantly tried to get pressure on Fleury in the final few minutes, but it was too little too late.

Vegas won 2-1; sending the Rangers into their bye-week with a bitter taste in their mouths.

BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS

SUBSTITUTE: Ondrej Pavelec continued his stupendous play of late; stopping 32 of 34 shots. Going back to his start against Pittsburgh on December 5th, Pavelec has turned aside 147 of 153 shots. That’s a 1.45 GAA and .961 SV% over four starts.

PENALTY-KILL: A one-for-one showing on the penalty-kill continued the Rangers’ strong season when down a man. Of the last 95 penalties called against the Blueshirts, they’ve successfully killed off 83; that’s an 87.4% success rate.

UP NEXT

The Rangers face John Tavares and the Islanders Saturday (Jan. 13) at MSG. Game time: 1 p.m. ET. Broadcast: MSG Network. NOTE: Rangers have a mandatory bye-week January 8-12.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The bye-week couldn’t come fast enough for this team.

Since the calendar turned to 2018 the Rangers have had the following performances:

A shaky win against a game Buffalo team in the Winter Classic.

Then came their 5-2 loss to Chicago where they were skated out of MSG.

Next was their lucky win over the worst-in-the-NHL Coyotes.

And finally their gritty loss to the Golden Knights.

The Rangers need to use this week off to get their heads straight; hopefully coming out strong against the Islanders on Saturday.