Tonight’s recap is brought to you by loyal reader Glen Miller. Glen also is the advanced stats writer on snyrangersblog and a regular contributor for Ranger Nation. His twitter handle is@gkmkiller. Get some…
As many of you likely do while watching the Rangers game, I dabble on Twitter and interact with fellow Blue Shirts fans. At one point late in tonight’s contest with New Jersey I noticed three consecutive tweets in my timeline all containing the same word in reference to the game. That word was “mess” and it seemed fitting given tonight’s lackluster 4 – 1 defeat at the hands of the Devils.
In what seems to be becoming a rather alarming trend, the Rangers were once again sloppy and inconsistent in their effort. They committed several egregious turnovers, two of which led directly to goals against.
The game started off miserably with Kovalchuk converting yet another turnover into a goal at 0:49 of the first period. After acquiring the puck in the neutral zone, Kovalchuk skated right up the gut splitting the Rangers defense. Ryan McDonagh tripped trying to pivot in order to defend the onrushing Kovalchuk thus springing the Devils star sniper on a mini-breakaway. Unfortunately for the Rangers, Kovy wouldn’t miss.
Compounding matters in the first, Brandon Dubinsky decided it was wise to engage in a scrap with Ryan Carter. Carter got the better of Dubinsky, bloodying his nose, and the Rangers forward would leave the game with what was revealed later to be a hand injury. With Prust, Rupp, Scott and Bickel all in the lineup it didn’t make any sense for Dubi to take that fight.
Speaking of scraps, John Scott would drop the mitts for the first time as a Ranger when he took on Cam Janssen. The two have a history so it was no surprise they decided to tangle tonight. Fans clamoring to see Scott unload on the much smaller Janssen were disappointed as the Devils tough guy was able to tie up Scott’s right arm and basically fought the gigantic new Blue Shirt to a draw.
For the period the Rangers were outshot 11 – 9 by the Devils and outhit 8 – 5. The Rangers were not able to generate any kind of a consistent forecheck. The best line of the period may have been the Brian Boyle, Scott and Rupp line. They were able to pin the Devils in their own zone for stretches of time.
The Rangers upped their intensity level in period two and would tie the contest up at one on a goal by Derek Stepan. Carl Hagelin made the play from behind the net and passed the puck out to Stepan in the slot. The puck was deflected some by Brodeur thus causing it to elude the back-checking Zach Parise. Stepan would snipe the puck top-shelf, stick-side.
It was the second game in a row Stepan has scored a goal. He has four in his last nine and has shown off a tremendous shot. Stepan would be better off taking more shots and being less selfless.
They would have other great chances in the period but Brodeur was equal to the task and would finish the period with 13 saves. Ryan Callahan might have had the best of those chances when Marian Gaborik sprung the Captain on a breakaway 14:35 into the period. Brodeur would swallow up Callahan’s snap shot though.
The third period was a complete disaster. The Devils outshot the Rangers 11 – 3 for the period and potted three goals. The first was scored by Ranger nemesis David Clarkson when a shot from just inside the blue line by former Ranger Petr Sykora deflected off Clarkson’s right leg and by Hank for the eventual game-winning goal.
Just 1:54 later Carter capitalized on Girardi’s miscue to give the Devils a two-goal advantage. Patrik Elias would cap off the scoring with an empty-net marker with just 1:53 left in the game.
Girardi’s play has dipped of late. All the minutes he’s played may be catching up to him. In four March games Girardi is a -4 and just doesn’t seem to be as sharp as he has been for most of the year.
All-in-all it was another disappointing effort by the Rangers. The team has been outshot 93 – 62 over the last three games and have been dominated for long stretches of time in each. Whether this is just a mini-slump or the team is wearing down late in what has been a grinding season, the Rangers will need to play much better if they intend to go deep into the post-season.
Next up is a road date with the Ottawa Senators at 7:30 EST on Thursday.