For those watching the Rangers woeful 4-0 loss to Toronto, one thing was made painfully clear. This team must sell.
The Blueshirts came out flatter than a pancake. And the Maple Leafs poured syrup all over them.
8:42 into the game Justin Holl rang a shot off the post past a screened Henrik Lundqvist. And as has been the case lately, puck luck was not on the Rangers’ side.
The small frozen rubber disc bounded off the goalpost, right into the Rangers’ net. And just like that Toronto led 1-0.
Roughly seven minutes later James Van Riemsdyk took advantage of the lackadaisical effort displayed by Brady Skjei and Marc Staal. JVR snuck behind them; stuffing the puck past Lundqvist for the 2-0 Toronto lead.
And it only got worse from there.
Just 52 seconds into the second period Patrick Marleau found himself the beneficiary of a wide open, clear-sighted shot from in front of the Rangers’ blue line. And as the future Hall-of-Famer let go the shot he managed to catch Lundqvist drifting out of position.
Marleau’s aim was true and so was the Leafs 3-0 lead.
Barely two minutes later Zach Hyman ended Lundqvist’s night.
The Toronto center walked in untouched on Henrik with Jesper Fast camped in front of the Rangers’ net. Fast got caught puck-watching as Hyman beat Lundqvist for the 4-0 Maple Leafs’ lead.
The goal sent Henrik to the bench as Ondrej Pavelec came on in relief for the second time in three games.
The other being a 6-3 loss to Anaheim shortly before the All-Star Break.
At the end of two periods of the play the Rangers found themselves down 4-0 and trailing 17-12 in the shots department.
The third period was more of the same as the Blueshirts proved they were incapable of mounting any sort of offensive threat against the Leafs’ backup goalie Curtis McElhinney.
The 4-0 loss proved once and for all the Rangers need to be sellers at the upcoming Trade Deadline.
And making matters worse, Pavel Buchnevich exited the game midway through the second period after a collision with Jake Gardiner; injuring his jaw.
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
POWER-PLAY MIA: The Rangers saw their power-play goal streak snapped; going oh-for-three on the man advantage and looked disjointed throughout.
PENALTY-KILL ALL DAY: The Blueshirts went one-for-one on the penalty-kill; extending their streak of not allowing a power-play goal to 17 of their last 26 games.
WHO’S IN GOAL: A combination of ineffective goaltending and porous defense did in Lundqvist after 23:05 of play; the second time in three games he has been yanked. Ondrej Pavelec came on in relief early in the second period and held the Leafs off the scoreboard the rest of the way; stopping all 19 shots he faced.
THE HITMAN: Cody McLeod led all skaters with eight hits for the game; the most by a Rangers’ player in a single game this year.
The Rangers face Roman Josi and the predators Saturday (Feb. 3) at Bridgestone Arena. Game time: 8 p.m. ET. Broadcast: MSG Networks.
Forget about going 10-3-0 over the next 13 games. And forget about securing 41 points in 32 games.
The Blueshirts are ready-made sellers; that’s the end of the story.