Madison Square Garden – After giving up 17 goals in their previous three games, the Rangers finally managed to pick up two points last night. The win came in a shootout against the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that would struggle to make the playoffs in an over-50 men’s rec league. An embarrassing 6-3 home shellacking against the Long Island Islanders of Brooklyn came on the heels of Sunday’s 6-3 beatdown at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
When the Rangers gave up a goal in the second period last night after squandering several power play opportunities, there was a sense of “here we go again” from the Garden faithful. MSG was silent and the players were flat. The Rangers have to find a way to get the power play going. At times the special teams doesn’t look bad but just can’t score. Last night the power play looked awful. They didn’t even come close to scoring on any of the half dozen or so power plays. Things were looking bleak until Brassard deflected the puck past Anton Khudobin for the equalizer.
An uneventful OT led to a shootout in which Henrik stopped all three of the Hurricanes’ shots and Rick Nash, who is finally playing like Rick Nash, scored the only goal to give the Rangers two much needed points. Nash has been the Blueshirts’ best player by far in the early stages of this season. His scoring streak was broken last night with the shootout winner not counting towards his season total. We could have used this Rick Nash in the playoffs last season.
The Rangers are sorely missing Derek Stepan and Dan Boyle. Center (American spelling) has been a definite weak point so far. The MSL experiment at center was always doomed to fail. St. Louis is the quintessential winger. I thought Rick Nash might have fit in better as a centre (Canadian spelling) but the Rangers have decided to bring in Kevin Hayes to center Nash and St. Louis. After some rough shifts early, Hayes has played well of late. But he’s definitely still not ready to be a consistent first line (or second or third line) center. The Rangers will have to weather the storm until Stepan gets back. But it could be a rough few weeks.
On the defensive end, losing Dan Boyle has exposed a serious lack of depth defensively. Michael Kostka had a chance to cement his place in the lineup but two costly giveaways Tuesday night all but sealed the game in the Islanders’ favor. Its games like Tuesday night’s tilt against the Isles that make me miss John Tortorella (a little). After the first giveaway that led to an Islanders goal, Torts would have benched Kostka. His second giveaway and the Islanders’ go-ahead goal wouldn’t have happened. Oh well. For now it looks like will hold down the 6th defensive spot until Boyle gets back. Kostka figures to be a healthy scratch a lot for the next few weeks and then it’ll be off to Hartford for him. Hopefully the Rangers can win a few games between now and then.