Welcome to the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde show.
This Rangers team had its’ fans excited during its’ six-game win-streak. That after a slow start to the season that had head coach Alain Vigneault on the hot seat.
Following six-straight wins, the Rangers have dropped consecutive games, looking like they did in the early days of the season.
Yes, Sergei Bobrovsky was in a zone tonight. Yes, Columbus has been the better team this season.
That’s no excuse for the Rangers playing without urgency or energy.
A few brief pushes aside, the Blueshirts were beaten to every puck by Columbus.
They suffered their first shutout loss of the season, looking disinterested at times.
This loss will surely have fans questioning which version of the team is the real one. Is it the one that started the season 3-7-2? Or is it the one that won six in a row?
The real answer is probably somewhere in between.
The big problem is that they’re too dependent on their special teams. When the Rangers score on the power-play and kill off penalties, they usually win. But when they don’t get strong special teams play, their five-on-five play isn’t enough to win games.
When they went down 1-0 in the second period, it felt like a nail in the coffin. Even though this team has come back time and time again, the lack of energy was startling.
Artemi Panarin’s power-play goal early in the third period was the actual nail, as the Blueshirts looked inept and didn’t execute plays.
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
POWER OUTAGE: The power-play went 0-for-3. The penalty-kill gave up a back-breaking goal. All told, the special teams play wasn’t where it needed to be.
PUCK-WATCHING: A theme all season has been the defense getting caught puck-watching. Tonight was no different. The defense gets drawn to one-side and fails to pick-up the open man. This leads to scoring chances. And goals.
HENRIK LUNDQVIST: Hank made 40 saves, many of which were of the difficult variety. But when it mattered most, he came up small. Panarin’s power-play goal was a clear-sighted shot in which Lundqvist was set and didn’t get the glove high enough. Yes the defense left him exposed. But he has to pick them up at crucial moments. He didn’t tonight.
BRENDAN SMITH: The defenseman returned to the lineup after a multi-game benching. Within the first 10 minutes he had drawn a penalty, committed one, and had a grade “A” scoring chance. After that, he disappeared, playing the fewest minutes of any Rangers’ defenseman. His total ice time — 14:25.
The Rangers face Erik Karlsson and the Senators Sunday (Nov. 19) at MSG. Game time is 7:00 p.m. ET and the broadcast is on MSG Network.
This team needs a wake up call. Too often they show up lacking energy or urgency. In this season’s NHL, that could spell early doom.
They are not out of it. However, playing in a stacked Metropolitan Division is more detrimental than helpful.