Found December 13, 2011 on Blue Seat Blogs:

This was a bit of a boring game, as the Stars are a defensive minded trapping team with a few offensive weapons, and forced the Rangers to play their way. That should sound familiar, it’s how the Rangers played in the latter half of the Tom Renney era. In the end, it was a bad turnover by Jeff Woywitka that cost the Rangers the game. Losses happen.

The Stars did what they do best: trap the opposition and capitalize off turnovers. Losses happen, and this is still a good streak by the Rangers. Remember that this is a tough eight game stretch (starting with the first Tampa game), where I said that if the Rangers go 5-3 it should be considered a success. They are currently 3-2-1, with games against St. Louis and Phoenix still to come. And they are doing this without Marc Staal or Mike Sauer.

Offense

  • It’s kind of ironic. The Rangers had the puck seemingly all game, but couldn’t solve the defensive setup or the goaltender. It’s like deja vu back to the Renney days, it really is. The Rangers played a good game, but they got beat. It happens.
  • The rush by Carl Hagelin that led to his charging penalty (more on that below) was a great way of Hagelin to showcase his speed, and why speed is such a dangerous weapon. Most goalies don’t come out to play the puck like that, and it was a good opportunity for Hagelin and the Rangers.
  • The powerplay looked very good this game, and that’s how it has been looking for the past month or so. They moved the puck well, found open ice, and got shots on net. There were a few times (cough, Stepan, cough) where they should have shot the puck, but they got too cute and passed it around too much.
  • Of course by the above statement, I mean every powerplay except that last one where they didn’t move at all.
  • At the beginning of the game, Artem Anisimov made a nice little play to take the puck away from the Stars at the blue line, and then made a nice pass to Marian Gaborik. There was no shot on goal, but both the takeaway and the pass were nice plays by Anisimov, who had a good game.
  • It seems that the Rangers get better and better as the game goes on. I’m not sure if that’s because of coaching adjustments or if it’s because the Rangers are just that much more conditioned, but getting better as the game goes on is a great team quality to have.
  • For such a low scoring game, there were a lot of odd man rushes. It’s a product of turnovers and great defensive plays on the odd man rushes.
  • The Rangers had a lot of opportunities off rebounds that Richard Bachman was leaving, but they bounced just out of reach of their sticks. It happened all game too, just really bad luck.

Defense/Goaltending

  • How many people pooped themselves when Henrik Lundqvist slumped and was hurt after the Sheldon Souray shot? As I was saying on Twitter, that kind of shot, the heavy shot that Souray has makes it difficult to shake that off. The padding doesn’t help that much, especially on those shots up high (or in the junk).
  • There were two instances where Anton Stralman rushed the puck into the zone (good), but no Ranger forward moved back to cover for him (bad). The Rangers are lucky they didn’t get burned on those.
  • Aside from Hank’s pain in the second, the Rangers as an organization held their breath when Ryan McDonagh went head first into the boards in the second period. They then held their breath again when Steve Eminger took a puck to the midsection. This team can’t afford to lose anymore defensemen.
  • Speaking of Stralman, he played a great game. His best as a Ranger. Good to see him finding his stride.
  • Speaking of Eminger, he played a great game too. He has really stepped up in Mike Sauer’s absence.
  • Michael Del Zotto saved the game for the Rangers with his backcheck on Eric Nystrom while the Rangers were on the powerplay. He harassed him just enough to force his shot to miss the net.
  • As great of a goal as that was for Dallas (great passing), Jeff Woywitka turned the puck over with a lazy pass through the neutral zone. That goal should not have happened.

Opposition/Officiating

  • Let’s start with the charging call on Hagelin in the first period. That is, as Rick Carpiniello has said before, the epitome of the ‘pansification’ of the game today. All three players involved made great plays, and there was incidental contact. This is hockey, there is going to be contact, especially when the goalie is that far out of the crease. But the refs, fresh off the Milan Lucic incident, made a terrible call on Hagelin, despite his attempt to stop.
  • The officiating in this game was atrocious. Aside from the Hagelin gaffe, the call on Steve Ott –the tripping call after the Del Zotto incident– was just funny because he didn’t trip him, and the offsides call when Dan Girardi kept the zone were just as bad. I’m trying to think if it has always been this bad, or if we just see it more because we have better replay angles.
  • The Stars get by with solid defense and a trapping style, which they showcased to a tee tonight. Unfortunately for the Stars, the Rangers have the best goalie in the world and the defense to match that type of low scoring game.
  • That kid Bachman in net for the Stars was fantastic. He matched the best goalie in the world save for save, and has really been something for the Stars, who were desperate with Kari Lehtonen on the shelf for the foreseeable future and Andrew Raycroft not being able to play the position.
  • For the most part, the Stars played a 1-2-2 hybrid trap, but switched to a 1-4 while protecting that one goal lead. It worked. And it has been working for them all year. That’s how a team wins games despite a negative goal differential. They also clogged the middle all game, and it looked like more of a collapsing box towards the end of the game.
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