There are going to be days like this. It’s part of the process under a new coach still trying to establish himself. When I predicted that the Rangers would be more exciting to watch, this was a bit what I expected. Well, maybe not the wild storm they got struck with by the Hurricanes in a painful 8-5 loss. In falling to 0-3-0, it’s the first time they’ve started a season with three straight losses since ’98-99 during the Dark Ages.
What must be understood by already frustrated fans, who unfairly blamed to young backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev for this mess, is that there are going to be bad nights where the team struggles defensively. They reverted into old, bad habits in a nightmare third period that saw the Canes score the final four goals.
Following Chris Kreider scoring his second of the game to put the Rangers back ahead 5-4, they imploded in epic fashion. Lucas Wallmark tied it on a broken play from in front only 35 seconds later. Then, rookie Andrei Svechnikov went to work by scoring his first NHL goal on a nice redirection of a Justin Faulk point shot. The 2018 third overall pick became the first NHL player born in 2000 to score in a game. He had a good game winding up with a goal and assist to help Carolina improve to 2-0-1 under new coach Rod Brind’Amour.
It only got worse. Once Warren Foegle scored his second from in front with Ranger skaters just standing around, it was like a blur. A one goal lead quickly turned into a two goal deficit. Unlike his predecessor, David Quinn had seen enough. He actually took a timeout and was very animated on the bench talking to the players. There was still enough time to come back. It wasn’t happening. Instead, Teuvo Teravainen scored a power play goal into a vacated net to put the finishing touches on the Canes’ second straight win.
All the good things the Rangers did the first two periods didn’t matter. Even with both Kreider and Jimmy Vesey getting their first two goals, it was wasted in a depressing loss. Pavel Buchnevich scoring the team’s first power play goal from seventh defenseman Tony DeAngelo was nice, but they lost a game they should’ve won.
Too many costly mistakes. It’s very easy to pin it all on the young netminder. Georgiev didn’t have a good night. He let in an unscreened softy to Michael Ferland with 31 seconds left in the second. That tied it at four. That was the only awful goal of the seven he gave up on 39 shots. Far too many came from within 20 feet, including goals from Foegle and Jordan Martinook. There also was a total communication breakdown between Adam McQuaid and Brady Skjei that allowed Jordan Staal to fly by and beat Georgiev on a breakaway. It reminded me of the last two years, except it was Henrik Lundqvist getting victimized. Some fans have a selective memory.
There were a lot of mistakes made. Even though they scored five times and did some good things offensively, the attention to detail was atrocious. Mika Zibanejad had a night to forget. He only had three shots and lost 14 of 25 face offs while getting victimized on the first two Carolina goals. He stood around puck watching instead of picking up the open man. He hasn’t gotten off to the kind of start the Rangers need from him. One assist in garbage time doesn’t cut it. He’s the number one center. It’s time to start playing like it.
At least Kreider sprung to life. He has taken a beating so far, getting hit by a puck last night. Sporting stitches above his eye, he also took a missed high stick tonight. A play they somehow called a penalty on Skjei for. It was confusing. Maybe getting knocked around helped Kreider. More active throughout, he got on the board with his first thanks to a great centering pass from Brett Howden. Vladislav Namestnikov did some good board work to pick up his first assist. He was back in the lineup with Quinn scratching Vinni Lettieri. He opted for seven defensemen by inserting DeAngelo, who was one of the few on the blueline who played well.
Kevin Shattenkirk only played 7:29 with almost half on the power play where he received 3:22. He was on for two goals against. I have no idea if he got hurt or it was a coaching decision. I’ll try to find out more.
At one point, they were leading 2-0 after 6:02 had been played. Vesey’s first goal came off a good defensive play by Jesper Fast, who chipped the puck out to him for a two on one with Kevin Hayes. They worked a give and go with Hayes dishing across for a sweet Vesey finish. A nice reward for a player who’s been working his tail off.
But following Kreider’s goal off some more hard work, the Rangers let Carolina back in it. First, Foegle was the recipient of a Justin Williams pass from behind the net. He was able to beat Georgiev in front with Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello lost in coverage. Over five minutes later, Martinook was left alone to score from Williams and Staal.
The Rangers retook the lead in the second twice. The first time came on a well constructed play from Filip Chytil, Skjei and Vesey. Chytil worked his way into the Carolina zone and pulled up. Dropping the puck to Skjei, the defenseman skated down low and fed Vesey for a one timer past Petr Mrazek for a 3-2 lead. Following a defensive breakdown that allowed Staal to tie it, a good pinch by DeAngelo resulted in Buchnevich getting his second. Able to handle a tough pass from Hayes, DeAngelo cut to the middle and got off a tough, low shot that Buchnevich deflected into Mrazek. He was unable to control the rebound, which Buchnevich put home for a power play goal.
With things finally looking to have settled down, Georgiev made a costly boo-boo when following his reverse past teammates, he lost focus on a long Ferland wrist shot, allowing a knuckler to get past him high stick side. It was a bad read. Of course, he was crucified. But honestly, he wasn’t to blame for what happened in the final period.
It was a total debacle. Following a beautiful Kreider tally off a rush from DeAngelo and Fast, they broke down. First came total confusion on a play behind their net, which allowed Svechnikov and Martinook to combine on Wallmark’s tying marker. Then, they skated around like chickens following a Georgiev save. The Hurricanes played catch until Faulk fired a low deflectable shot which Svechnikov redirected for his first career goal.
The comedy of follies continued when they left Foegle all alone in front for a two goal deficit. Even after Quinn ripped into the team during a timeout, they didn’t respond well enough to get back in it.
All in all, a ugly loss that’ll be forgotten in a couple of days. There are sure to be some hard practices ahead of their next game. That’s not until Thursday at home against the Sharks. Gulp. Hopefully, that’ll go better.
Post Game: DeAngelo had a goal and assist in over 17 minutes in his first game. He should definitely play again. Fast registered two assists including as noted above, career point number 100. He continues to improve. The hard work is paying off. Hayes also had two helpers to bounce back from a ineffective night in Buffalo. Chytil now has two helpers in three games, and Howden has a goal and assist over the last two contests. Zuccarello had a bad game finishing without a point and going a minus-three. He looks a step slow so far. Marc Staal and Neal Pionk each were minus-two. Both must be better if this team wants to be competitive.
Tweets: Let’s just call this a new addition to game reviews. It got so ugly that I took a break from my timeline in the third. It’s only Game 3 of a rebuild. Imagine if some of these fans had to go through seven consecutive embarrassing seasons of no playoffs between ’97-98 through ’03-04. Holy cannoli.