WASHINGTON – The Rangers got stronger, you may have heard it, but their success this season will still be largely determined by the top two talented lines.
So if you learn that in Wednesday night’s opener here against the Capitals that neither Mika Zibanejad nor Artemi Panarin were credited with a shot, only the top six forwards which also include Chris Kreider, Kaapo Kakko, Ryan Strome and Alexis Lafrenière combined for a sum of six evenly matched punches, how do you think the Blueshirts fared?
Correct. Final score in a game the Rangers had been pointing and building at for months, 5-1 against.
In the end, the team took care not to blame themselves. Oh and by the way, there was no beating of Tom Wilson. No one was beaten in a match in which the Blueshirts tried to set a physical tone – get on right now, Sammy Blais – but never slipped.
A statistic to chew on as head coach Gerard Gallant started the Zibanejad line rather than the fourth line including Ryan Reaves: No.75 was on the ice along with Mr. Wilson for a sum of 0:09.
But here’s a more relevant statistic: Trailing 1-0 after the first period on the first of Washington’s three power play goals, then 2-0 at 12:38 on another PPG and 3-0 just 24 seconds The Blueshirts later went to the 18:41 second period final without a even-matched shot on goal. They went at 1:33 p.m. with no shots from 3:50 to 5:23 p.m., finishing with five for the middle 20 minutes.
After the game, after Gallant’s tenure started with a thud, the Blueshirts maintained it hadn’t been as bad as the score – or your eyes – might have indicated. Zibanejad and Adam Fox both cited the few Grade A chances the club generated early on before a cascade of unruly penalties resulted in three Washington PPGs.
“I think when it came to 2-0 we were obviously a little frustrated trying to chase,” said Zibanejad, who had three attempts. “We talked about it a bit, we got a little bit out of our game. I don’t know if we were trying to get those two goals back as quickly as possible and that we were impatient.
Alex Georgiev took the surprise start in goal. It’s always a surprise when a team’s # 1 doesn’t get the first mission. Gallant, in consultation with goaltending coach Benoit Allaire, appears to have taken the call to get Igor Shesterkin ready for Thursday’s Garden opener against the Stars, when the Blueshirts are a tired side in the face of new news. team.
Georgiev didn’t cost the Rangers the game – the Blueshirts didn’t score until Kreider’s shrewd redirection on the power play at 9:13 of the third period brought the score to 4-1 – and he did fell victim to a few rebounds that the Blueshirts highlighted. much more than necessary, but the No.40 could not erase the mistakes of his teammates either.
There was a method for this decision-making, but in some ways it’s kind of like Casey Stengel doesn’t start Whitey Ford before World Series Game 3 so the left-hander can pitch at the stadium like the manager’s. did in the 1960s. -Loss of the game against the Pirates.
Blais, who impresses when he hits a lot like the Islanders’ Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck, came out on top. And the Rangers generated a few golden chances in the first six minutes, with goaltender Vitek Vanecek turning down Fox in the first quarter, then Kakko just over five minutes into the game and shortly after TJ Oshie gave the advantage in Washington. But there wasn’t much after that.
The Rangers were unable to generate out of the race. They were unable to generate a cycle game. Their discipline is collapsing. They took too many penalties – “Too many penalties, too many bad penalties,” said Gallant – and although they were shorthanded for a manageable 5:34 total, that number was low due to the success of the Caps on the human advantage.
If you’re looking for silver liners in this cloud, it’s because Kakko had a good evening in the attacking zone, registering five shots that included some legitimate scoring chances, and Lafrenière, much better as the game went on. was advancing, had three hits out of seven attempts.
It’s hard to imagine a bigger thud outside the door. The mandate now is not to be tougher on Dallas. It’s to get better. Much better. This goes for the team. This goes for Zibanejad and Panarin. This goes for the first six.