It’s been almost seven years, December 2006, to be exact (according to Elias Sports Bureau) that the Rangers have been this dismal in consecutive games. Thursday’s 6-0 loss to the Ducks in Anaheim came hard on the heels of a 9-2 thumping by the Sharks.
The last time the Rangers allowed 14 or more goals in consecutive games: A 9-2 loss in Toronto on Dec. 16 and a 6-1 loss to the Devils at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s tough to say there were signs of improvement in a 6-0 loss,” said coach Alain Vigneault, who has been off to a rough start at the helm. “Having said that though, tonight we tried until the end.”
Captain Ryan Callahan was at a loss to explain how the Rangers, for all the talk of a rebound, were down 3-0 after the first period. “I don’t have an explanation. I thought our effort was a little bit better, but it’s still not where it needs to be. Turnovers in the neutral zone cost us pretty big, especially against a team that can create so much offense in transition…I expected a little more from the group after what happened in San Jose. It’s not acceptable.”
The Ducks were prepared from the get-go. They knew how the Rangers were struggling. “We knew they hadn’t played well the last couple games in the pre-season and in the first game. We had a pretty good video session on showing this,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. Said goalie Jonas Hiller: “We knew we had to push and we wanted to put pressure on them. We knew they weren’t too solid in their last game in their own zone.”
The Rangers did manage 31 shots in the second and third periods, after a miserly three in the first, when the game was all but decided. Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silvferberg from in front, and Dan Winnik, on a long shot, scored in the first 11:36. And this sounds like a broken record, but it could have been worse. Lundqvist stopped 14 shots, several from point-blank range.
Granted, this is Game 4, without concussed Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin and a not-quite-ready Derek Stepan and a rattled, confused defense that appeared nervous early after the 9-2 pounding.
To be sure, the Rangers need more practice.
But listen to Dan Girardi on the defensive chaos: “It always seems like they have an extra guy in front of the net for some reason. I’m not sure why that is. Our puck management is not very good right now. We are giving pucks away and not getting all the way down….we are definitely making it easier on teams.”
All six goals were at even strength, which certainly says something about the 5 on 5 play of the Rangers, who now must trek to St. Louis to play the impressive Blues before they go home for three days, then face the Capitals on Wednesday.
A downcast Lundqvist summed up: “We’re just so far from where we need to be…Our game is all over the place.”
For those fans at home, you don’t need stats to see the problems if you watched the telecast.
Here are some good ones anyway: Brian Boyle won 16 of 21 faceoffs, had five shots and was one of three Rangers not in the minus column. He was even, along with Derek Brassard and Mats Zuccarello. But Zuccaerello had no shots on goal and Brassard just one. Arron Asham and Derek Dorsett took out their frustration in fights with Pat Maroon and Bryan Allen…The penalty kill was 6-for 6…The Rangers did not score on two power plays.
More tomorrow, when the Rangers practice in Anaheim before moving on to St. Louis…