In the Rangers’ 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes Friday night, they turned back the clock to an awful second half last season which ruined ’15-16. As illustrated here by wonderful MSG studio analyst Steve Valiquette, Henrik Lundqvist had no chance on Jeff Skinner’s shot that was deflected by Bryan Bickell for a second period buzzer beater on the game-winner.
Let’s look at what the Rangers’ netminder had in front of him:
As you can see, Skinner gets off a clean shot with Jesper Fast turned around. I’m not sure what he’s doing. Right in front in no man’s land is Nick Holden, who should’ve taken a wide open Lee Stempniak in the slot. By standing there, he’s just making it harder for Lundqvist to pick up the puck.
Directly in front, you have Dan Girardi battling Bickell, who manages to get his stick loose to the side for the redirect. Girardi does a good job keeping Bickell away from Lundqvist. But he’s able to tip the Skinner shot home past a screened out Lundqvist, who may as well have been in the locker room.
There’s virtually nothing that could’ve been done. If only the Rangers four penalty killers had been more diligent, the last second goal never happens. With Carolina scoring less than a minute into the second on Skinner’s breakaway tally in which he wasted Marc Staal and Kevin Klein, and then their goal which beat the buzzer, it was a ugly reminder of what plagued last year’s team.
That it came against a beatable opponent even if it was their home opener isn’t what you want to see. The Rangers will have to step it up for the Lightning on Sunday. They will have the advantage of being rested while Tampa visits Newark to take on the Devils tonight. We’ll see if they respond.