There is no worse pain than feeling kicked when you’re down. That’s what the New York Rangers mostly likely feel like lately. Going into last night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, it did not help the Blueshirts lacked players like Rick Nash, Darroll Powe, Arron Asham, and Michael Del Zotto. With a watered down lineup and a Blueshirt offense struggling to produce goals, the Canadiens pocketed the night in a 3-0 shutout win.
What seemingly felt like a solid start for the boys in blue after the first period quickly came to a close early in the second period when Montreal forward Erik Cole slid off the half-wall to a puck that deflected onto his forehand. Cole had a quick snap shot goal to get the Canadiens on the board first.
The original-six opponent came knocking again at 13:36 in the second when Lars Eller carried the puck into the Ranger zone and did a spin move that provided just enough time and space for Alex Galchenyuk to work his dirty magic. Galchenyuk did a quick outside-inside move and drove hard to the net to sneak one past Blueshirt backup goalie, Martin Biron. The goal was reviewed to make sure Eller had not gloved it in, but the call remained.
The line of Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller, and Erik Cole each had 1 goal and 1 assist last night proving to be a thorn in the sides’ of the Blueshirts.
The final goal of the game came on the Montreal power play at 19:34 in the second period. The Canadiens kept the puck moving and Galchenyuk got the puck up to the right point where Lars Eller one-timed the rubber past Biron. The Rangers ended last night with a third loss, and an even longer injury list.
Ryan McDonagh left the game after a questionable hit by Max Pacioretty at 7:20 in the second period. McDonagh, bloodied by the hit, drew a power play for the Rangers.
Just when things seemed they could not get any worse, Dan Girardi blocked a P.K. Subban one-timer with his right ankle with just 1 minute remaining in regulation time. The Ranger defensemen had to be helped off the ice, and could not put much pressure on the ankle.
The injuries really killed the Rangers last night, especially where the Rangers were down offensive machine, Rick Nash, who stayed back in New York still suffering from an undisclosed injury. Other players missing were penalty-killer, Darroll Powe, out indefinitely with a concussion, Arron Asham with back spasms, and Michael Del Zotto with a lower back injury that came in Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators. To make matters worse, the remaining offensive weapons that they usually rely on, could not produce.
Marian Gaborik leads the Rangers with 5 goals and 7 points against original-six opponents, but last night Gaborik seemed non-existent. When players are not doing what is expected of them, it is no surprise when head coach, John Tortorella, benches them as a result. Gaborik did not see one second of ice time in the third period. Brad Richards similarly was benched in a recent game prior.
Even with all the injuries, the Rangers can not panic, sometimes hitting rock bottom is the best way to find yourself as a group.
“We can’t get into a panic mode,” Tortorella said. “We just need to get more minutes consistently out of our players. It’s just a matter of trying to find yourself, hope some good things happen and gain some confidence.” (NHL.com)
In a positive light, the Rangers saw the debut of Christian Thomas last night, the son of Steve Thomas, a former NHLer. Unfortunately for Thomas, last night’s game is one the Blueshirts may like to put behind them, but the young rookie displayed an eye for the goal having a few shots on net and a big hit in the opening minutes of the first period.
The Rangers have to find some way to get past this stormy cloud above and generate the offense that has been lacking. There is a 4-game homestand in the horizon and that might be the perfect opportunity for the Blueshirts to try and turn this season around, as they are currently just above .500.
The Rangers will face off this coming Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets at Madison Square Garden in what will hopefully be the start of some sunnier days ahead.