By Brian Monzo
» More Columns
These are the games where a team that missed the playoffs the year before by a point needs to get two points. When the Pittsburgh Penguins (without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin) come to MSG and the Rangers get Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi back, you need two points. First game back from a week off, you need to win that game.
So when the final score is 4-3 Penguins after a shootout, it is considered a bad loss. What went wrong?
The Rangers were not able to hold on to a 2-0 lead. In fact, that lead was deceiving. The Rangers were half a second behind every Penguin most of the game.
As John Tortorella said in the postgame, the Rangers inability to keep up with the Penguins in the neutral zone was awful. Plain and simple. They were slower, and the Penguins were quicker. The Penguins got to pucks, beat out fights in the corners and got better goaltending.
The Rangers were given a gift in the second period when Brandon Prust was punched in face by Jordan Staal, with his glove on, and Staal was given a five minute match penalty and a game misconduct. The Rangers scored a goal in the final minute of the power play, but the first four minutes might as well have been at even strength. They were unable to sustain any kind of pressure, and it cost them. Regarding the penalty itself, I was shocked they gave Staal a five minute penalty. I know throwing a punch is inexcusable, but it wasn’t all that hard and Staal is not known for something like that. I thought it was worth two minutes for roughing.
The team had a new look with Callahan, Dubinsky and Girardi back, and coming off the layoff, it’s not surprising they came out with a flat effort. That said, it is not acceptable. This team is not going to win because they have great players, they are going to win because they outplay teams. That wasn’t the case in the first game back from the break. When a team misses the playoffs a year earlier by a point, losing to a division rival that is missing two of their best players is not going to fly. You have to take advantage and get two points.
The Rangers now have the Devils at MSG coming up. While they have struggled, the Devils are no longer a team that will be walked on. The Rangers need to be prepared to play 60 minutes. If not, another two points will be missed.
Follow me on Twitter: BMonzoNHL660
- Callahan, Dubinsky, Girardi Return For Ailing Rangers (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Monzo Minor: Rangers Report Card (newyork.cbslocal.com)