Yet another game that the New York Rangers had every opportunity to win, but ended up leaving the rink empty-handed in. First of all, thank God the Rangers and Stars only meet-up once this season because tonight's tilt ranks up there among the most boring hockey games I've ever witnessed. Secondly, nothing stings more than a 1-0 loss, especially with a rookie goaltender in the opposition's net. Some may say there's no reason to get angry over tonight's loss to the Dallas Stars, but I almost rather see the team get blown out of the water than lose 1-0 in a snoozefest like they did this evening at MSG.
The first thing that went wrong for the Blueshirts tonight, and probably the fault that lost them the game, was their powerplay (surprise!). They had five of them over the course of the game, and obviously based on the score, did not convert on any of them. Same story, different night and you'd think at some point head coach John Tortorella would've done a major mix-up with the powerplay units later in the game. But no, there's Brandon Dubinsky running around like he has not a clue as to where he is or what he should be doing.
Or how about Michael Del Zotto, who single-handedly ruined a Rangers powerplay with multiple hiccups in the second period. Can this kid really not aim the puck or does he just get a kick out of floating shots into the corners? Don't get me wrong, Del Zotto has shown some great improvement as of late, but I think I could hit the net more often with an eye-patch on.
But the powerplay's struggles do not come down to just two players; it's the entire unit that fell short tonight, and it started with vacancy in front of the net. Richard Bachman was starting in only his second NHL game, yet the Blueshirts allowed him to clearly see every shot that came his way. Save for Del Zotto's shots, because he'd probably need binoculars to get a good glimpse of those things.
Even when the teams were playing with equal manpower, the Rangers were hesitant to go to the net and create chances from in close. Not every goal is going to be pretty, especially when you have someone on their game between the pipes like Bachman was. The Blueshirts needed to get a dirty one tonight
And while on the topic of going to the net, I am still in disbelief that Carl Hagelin was called for "charging" in the first period after he collided with Bachman, who came out to the circles to play the puck. I am a big believer that goaltenders should be fair game when out of their crease, but even if that's not the case, Hagelin was pushed into the goaltender by a Dallas defenseman and both he and Bachman were going at each other in full-stride.
Anyway, the entire game (if you could call it that) came down to one single play. At 15:01 of the third period, Trevor Daley finished a pretty passing play to give the Stars a 1-0 lead, and that would hold up as the game-winner. Although the passes made on the play were precise, Jeff Woywitka made as big of a misread as you could make when defending a rush. He mistakenly followed a forward cutting through the slot without the puck, leaving a wide-open lane for Daley to walk in and shoot.
As Tortorella put it after the game, this contest was going to be determined by who blinked first, and the Rangers blinked on that play and ended up losing that game.
As a side note, Henrik Lundqvist took a laser of a slapper from Sheldon Souray to the shoulder in the second period, which left him in a great deal of pain. Hank remained in the game, but there's no doubt that he was fighting through discomfort the rest of the night. Lundqvist said after the game that his shoulder was sore, but sees no reason why he won't be available for Thursday night's game against the St. Louis Blues.
As for the game itself, I don't have anything more to say. It's amazing that the Rangers can net six against Jose Theodore and the Panthers, but can't get one past Richard Bachman and the Dallas Stars. Whatever, time to move on.