The game of hockey is a humbling one.
You can have a great player who’s single-handedly keeping his team in games. But if the rest of the team doesn’t do their jobs then they waste the efforts of the great player.
And that’s exactly what the Rangers have been doing to Henrik Lundqvist this season; especially today in their 3-1 loss to the Avalanche.
The absences of Chris Kreider, Kevin Shattenkirk, Kevin Hayes, Marc Staal and Michael Grabner proved too much for the Rangers to overcome.
And those absences meant players such as Tony DeAngelo, Daniel Catenacci, Steven Kampfer and Peter Holland all had to suit up.
None of those four players are everyday NHLers and that contributed to the Rangers’ offensive malaise against Colorado.
The first period saw the Blueshirts get outshot 11-5 and give up a plethora of “Grade A” scoring chances.
Defenseman Erik Johnson redirected a pass from Mikko Rantanen past Lundqvist at the 9:00 mark for the 1-0 lead.
Then at the 3:24 mark of the second period, Nathan MacKinnon continued his torrid play with a beautifully sniped shot through a screen; beating Lundqvist to make it 2-0 Avalanche.
The Rangers closed within one roughly three minutes later when Pavel Buchnevich redirected a pass from Mats Zuccarello on the power-play; beating Jonathan Bernier to the blocker-side.
From there the game was scoreless until Rantanen sealed the deal with an empty-net goal at the 19:59 mark of the third period.
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Rangers were one-for-one on the power-play (Buchnevich) and have now scored at least one power-play goal in five of their last nine games. On the flip side, the Blueshirts’ penalty-kill also went one-for-one; extending its’ stretch of dominance to 94-for-108.
HIS MAJESTY: Lundqvist fought through a first period injury scare to stop 34 of 36 shots sent his way. Henrik has recorded a save percentage of .900 or better in 17 straight starts; a career-high.
The Rangers face Jonathan Quick and the Kings Sunday (Jan. 21) at Staples Center. Game time: 10:30 p.m. ET. Broadcast: MSG Network.
The Rangers were missing five key players. But that’s no excuse for a team that prides itself on having a “next man up” mentality.
The Blueshirts have a tough schedule ahead of them and they can’t count on any of their injured players returning before the middle of the week.
Therefore, it’s up to the team’s leadership to rally the troops in these trying times. And it remains to be seen if they’re capable of doing so.