As the Rangers embark on their five game New Years road trip, let’s take a look back at their lump-of-coal-in-their-stocking worthy homestand.
Saturday December 7th – New Jersey Devils defeat the Rangers 4-3 OT
-The homestand got off to a good start with the Rangers taking a 2-0 advantage in the 2nd period. The Devils rallied to take a 3-2 lead before Chris Kreider tied the game with a late power play goal. Rookie Erik Gelinas scored his third goal of the season on the power play to give the cross-river-rivals the second point. Marc Staal would leave this game with a concussion, and still hasn’t returned.
Sunday December 8th – Washington Capitals defeat the Rangers 4-1
-Things didn’t get any better for the Blueshirts the following night. The Rangers fell victim to another rookie, but this time it was netminder Phillip Grubauer. The German goalie made 30 saves for his first NHL win, and the Rangers lone goal (courtesy of Benoit Pouliot) didn’t come until there was 1:53 remaining in the 3rd period.
Tuesday December 10th – Nashville Predators are victorious 4-1
-Flat play and another rookie goaltender (Carter Hutton) were the culprits in another lackluster game from the Broadway Blueshirts. Rick Nash cut it to a 2-1 deficit in the Second Period, but the game wasn’t even as close as the scoreboard indicated at that point. While this was New York’s third loss in a row, the victory snapped a five game skid for the Predators.
Thursday December 12th – Columbus Blue Jackets win 4-2
-The Rangers flat play continued and they failed to register a point in the third straight game. Columbus scored three goals in the first 11:10 of the game (which led to an early end-of-the-night for Henrik Lundqvist) and never looked back. It was the first visit to MSG for former Rangers Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov. Artie scored the second goal, Duby had 4 penalty minutes, and Fedor Tyutin (another former Ranger from yesteryear) chipped in with two assists.
Sunday December 15th – Rangers defeat the Calgary Flames 4-3 in a shootout
-A win is a win, but the Rangers needed to come from behind twice against one of the worst teams in the league in order to get the game to an extra period. For the second time in the homestand, Chris Kreider pushed the game to overtime with a goal in the Third Period. Benoit Pouliot’s tally in the 7th inning of the shootout gave the Rangers the second point after Henrik Lundqvist stopped Mikael Granlund in the bottom of the inning.
Wednesday December 18th – Pittsburgh Penguins win 4-3 in a shootout
-For the first time in the homestand, the Rangers gave a strong effort throughout the whole game. Two goals scored by the Pens in 1:01 span of the Third Period to take a 3-1 lead, but Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard (PPG) forced the game to OT. Brandon Sutter scored the lone goal of the shootout to give the Penguins the bonus point.
Friday December 20th – New York Islanders win 5-3
-Two shorthanded goals in the First Period (one of them on a penalty shot courtesy of Cal Clutterbuck) gave the Islanders made things look bleak again. Benoit Pouliot scored on the power play thirty seconds after Michael Grabner’s shorty to make it 2-1, and the Rangers even took a 3-2 lead midway through the Second Period courtesy of goals from Derek Dorsett and Derek Stepan (PPG). The lead would only last four minutes, as Brian Strait potted his first goal of the season before the 2nd intermission. Thomas Vanek’s power play goal early in the Third Period gave the Isles the lead for good. It was only the Islanders second win in a fifteen game stretch, and it was their first regulation win in over a month.
Sunday December 22nd – Rangers defeat the Minnesota Wild 4-1
-The Blueshirts put together a complete effort for the first time in weeks en route to the three goal victory. After an early Jason Pominville goal, the Rangers scored four unanswered goals. Speedy wingers Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello each scored their eighth goal of the season in the Second Period to give New York the lead for good. Rookie goalie Cam Talbot snapped a two game skid in the win.
Monday December 23rd – Rangers defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 (SO)
-For the second time in as many days, Cam Talbot earned the win with 25 saves and kept the high-scoring Leafs at bay until Nazem Kadri tied it at one with a questionable goal 1:24 remaining. Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan scored in the shootout to close out the homestand at 3-4-2 for New York.
The old saying goes that you need to win more often than you lose at home, and go .500 on the road to be a successful hockey team. Squandering a nine game homestand by only getting eight of a possible eighteen points is inexcusable, especially consider the month of October that the Rangers had. The five game road trip that spans two years will start in Washington on Friday night. After that, they head to Tampa Bay, Florida, Pittsburgh and Toronto before coming home for a January 6th meeting with Columbus.
MARC STAAL UPDATE – There’s still no timetable for his return, but the Rangers defenseman started skating again. Getting back on the ice is always a good sign, and the Rangers could certainly use him in the line-up (considering