The New York Rangers lost to the Dallas Stars 7-6 on Tuesday night. New York battled back in the third period to cut a four goal deficit to one, but were unable to complete the comeback. Here’s reaction and analysis following the affair.
1. I planned on giving myself the night off for this one, but after watching the Rangers get absolutely man-handled by the Stars for two periods, I knew I had to cover the game. However, the Rangers made a comeback, and my mind began to shift towards the Rangers resiliency. That’s a problem the Rangers cannot have.
This game cannot be remembered in any positive light. This cannot be a tale of the Rangers battling through adversity and nearly completing a comeback against an offensive juggernaut. This cannot be cited as reason the Rangers can hang with any team in the NHL.
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This was a disaster, and it needs to be treated as such. The Rangers must look themselves in the eyes. Everyone must be held accountable. There were no victories in this defeat. Winning one period but completely failing to show up for the other two is unacceptable. Treating the game as anything other than a complete failure is doing an injustice to the team and ignoring the problems made clear by the game.
2. Onto game action itself. The Rangers need to make a change. Multiple changes would be nice, but a shake-up is necessary. Looking at the possibilities, making a move at forward makes zero sense. The Rangers scored six goals for good reason. The forwards are part of the solution, not the problem.
We’ll discuss Henrik Lundqvist in a moment, but he’s Henrik Lundqvist. There’s no possible change to be made there.
That leaves the defense and Alain Vigneault. One of the two, if not both, must see change. It’s complicated in the sense that the Rangers cannot shoot themselves in the feet by making reactionary moves that hurt themselves, but changes must be made.
On defense, the simplest change would be to call up Ryan Graves, scratch Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein, shelter Graves and either Brady Skjei or Nick Holden, and play Ryan McDonagh and Adam Clendening the most. Girardi and Klein are burying this team on a nightly basis and the Rangers are doing nothing about it. As for the coaching….
3. Alain Vigneault must go. Vigneault’s tenure in Vancouver ended after he failed to adapt to his personnel. Vigneault has shown zero ability to adapt this season or last, and the Rangers are suffering because of it. Any time the Rangers suffer through defensive woes, Vigneault’s solution is to promote Dan Girardi or Kevin Klein. Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein are two of the worst defensemen in the NHL.
The Rangers suffered so many lapses in their play last night it would be fair to wonder if their coach even showed up. Systematic breakdowns were more prevalent than players playing in position. No player played a complete game, and it was unsurprising. New York has been a team scrambling around the ice for the majority of the season. Nothing has changed. Vigneault has not adapted.
John will cover Vigneault more later on, but there’s no doubt here that Vigneault is not the man for the job. The system is broken, the players are attempting to outscore their own defense, and this is a highly capable team playing like it’s a video game. Structure is necessary.
May sound silly, but Steve Valiquette deserves a look if the Rangers do make a change.
4. Henrik Lundqvist is in trouble. If anyone should want Vigneault gone, it’s Lundqvist. The systematic breakdowns have left Lundqvist a fireman looking to put out disasters in front of him rather than a goalie. He appears uncomfortable in net for the first time in his career, constantly shuffling out of position. Lundqvist is likely overcompensating for a defense he has zero trust in.
That being said, Lundqvist must be better himself. The fifth goal was unacceptable. Some stops must be made, and Lundqvist would say that himself. Lundqvist is going through the worst stretch of his career, and it likely won’t change until the Rangers help him out. The guess here is that if Raanta was in net last night the Stars would have hit double digits.
5. As for the fans booing Lundqvist, what a disgrace. Lundqvist kept the team afloat so often throughout his career, single-handedly willing teams to victory in key playoff games. His Rangers career is the stuff of legends, and to boo him is to spit on the history books.
No one cares about the Rangers more than Henrik Lundqvist, and no one demands more of Henrik Lundqvist than Henrik Lundqvist. He prevented the Rangers from being disasters last season, and although he can’t do so this season, it’s not on him. There are 18 other players on the ice making his job near-impossible. The “fans” don’t need to make it worse.
The Rangers will play Toronto on Thursday night. Hopefully they will do so with a new coach, new defenseman, or at least a new attitude. It was the first time the Rangers lost three games in a row all season, but the systematic breakdowns have been repetitive and must be treated as concerning. New York will go nowhere without taking Tuesday night’s debacle seriously.