How annoyed was I at the Rangers’ third period? It was to the point where I must have yelled at the poor flat screen TV 10 times. They had a opportunity to play one good period and steal a win against an improved Blackhawks in Chicago. Instead, they hardly could be bothered in what amounted to a listless effort, resulting in a ugly 4-1 loss.
I was so disgusted that I took a drive before the Alex DeBrincat empty net goal along with the Jimmy Vesey fight with the loathsome Brandon Manning. I’m sure I didn’t miss anything. It’s not like the Rangers could be bothered in an awful final period that saw them get one shot on goal on Corey Crawford. Between the five icings I counted, horrible giveaways that forced Henrik Lundqvist to make some ridiculous saves to maybe silence former Hawks scrub Adam Burish (more on that later), and flat out ineptitude of the $5.7 million man, Brady Skjei, I was livid.
Listen. I can take losing when our team gives an honest effort. But as coach David Quinn put it, it was their worst effort of the season. They were only down a goal entering the third. Only a handful of skaters could be bothered. I’ll single out the five I thought played hard. Lone goalscorer Pavel Buchnevich had arguably his best game scoring on a rebound to tie the game in the first. In what can only be described as a perplexing premonition, I had a dream that he’d score on a rebound. Who knew my subconscious state could predict the future?
Kevin Hayes was around the puck all night long, creating chances for himself and his linemates. Unfortunately, he has no puck luck with his shot off a brilliant feed from Vladislav Namestnikov going off the crossbar to prevent the Blueshirts from tying it up. He sure brings it every shift. They’re just not going in for him or rookie Filip Chytil. He didn’t play much in the third, but came very close to getting his first goal in the second on two point blank chances that Crawford stuffed. I don’t know why he barely got any shifts in the third.
It’s not like Jesper Fast was gonna bury anything. He’s back to being the hard working forward with stone hands. He can’t be in the top six. He should play with Brett Howden and Jimmy Vesey until Namestnikov gets going. He only has one assist in nine games. Quinn gave him an extended look in the third over Chytil. Namestnikov wound up with over 13 minutes and finished minus-three. They might be showcasing him if you believe Elliotte Friedman.
I’d like to see Buchnevich with Hayes and Chytil. Now that he’s buying in by working harder to get to the inside like his third goal of the season off a Brendan Smith rebound, created by Howden, I think Quinn owes it to the second line to put two offensively gifted players with Hayes. Let’s find out what Buchnevich and Chytil can do together. That could be a good combo in the future.
It’s disappointing that they didn’t give more in the third with Lundqvist performing his usual acrobatics. I wonder if Burish was paying any attention to our goalie who he called “overrated.” He must not have seen him carry the John Tortorella ’11-12 low scoring blocked shot roster as far as they could go, or been in a fog during the 2014 NHL Playoffs. Burish was a fourth liner on a loaded Blackhawks championship roster. I’m sure Lundqvist doesn’t care what he thinks anyway. While Crawford had a walk in the park, our goalie stood on his head like he usually does. He’s going to the Hockey Hall of Fame when his career is over. It would be a shame if he never gets another chance to play for the Stanley Cup.
I’m not gonna bother recapping the Hawks goals. It’s pointless. Jonathan Toews opened the scoring after the awful Skjei collided with Adam McQuaid, who left the game in the second with a lower body injury. It was pathetic. It was one of Skjei’s worst games. Maybe Alain Vigneault was right about him. He gets caught so out of position defensively. For a guy taken 28th overall in 2012 while Shayne Gostisbehere was stolen by the Flyers in the third round some 50 picks later, he sure has a lot to learn for a 24-year old defenseman in his third year. There were a slew of D taken much later who are better.
Following Buchnevich’s goal, the Hawks went back ahead. I didn’t see it because I decided to flip to some other games, but it sounded like some bad luck allowed Alexandre Fortin to score halfway through the contest. At the time, the best team in New York got a game-winner from Kyle Okposo on the power play with 61 seconds left in a Sabres 4-3 win over the equally surprising Canadiens. The Sabres have six wins in regulation. Third in the Atlantic Division. I also caught the end of the Devils game that Kyle Turris won in overtime for Nashville. Hasan recapped it.
Despite trailing by one, the Rangers came on late in the period and were outshot 12-11. There was a chance for a comeback. Instead, they mailed it in. There were way too many unforced mistakes in a lopsided third. It was all Blackhawks. They completely dominated play with their game breaking speed and forecheck. However, Lundqvist wasn’t cooperating. He really deserved better than he got.
The top line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello were shutdown. They couldn’t get anything going. I’m not sure if it was totally head to head versus Toews, but they were a non-factor. Kreider later admitted that he passed up a couple of shot opportunities. He indicated that they needed to be harder on the puck. They were too cute, trying fancy low percentage passes like the abysmal one Skjei made to nobody, resulting in a Hawks transition. I have no clue why Skjei didn’t shoot. There was enough traffic. Instead, he passed the puck like a grenade into the corner.
In this game, Marc Staal was good. He paired up with Neal Pionk, who’s become our most reliable defenseman. He played over nine minutes in the first. Both gave an honest effort. Somewhere in another space in a delusional rage, someone probably thinks Staal should be benched. They must not be watching his shifts too closely. He’s not perfect. But the vet gives a good effort daily. He has a clue how to take the body and get out of his end.
With McQuaid hurt and Fredrik Claesson on the mend, it looks like Tony DeAngelo is gonna get a shot out in California. This could be his last chance. He’s only played in two games so far. One good with two assists. The other bad. He’s still only 23, but that trade with the Coyotes that also netted Lias Andersson isn’t looking too good. Derek Stepan remains a top two center and Antti Raanta is the starter in the desert. He’s hurt right now. Just my luck. My goaltending in fantasy hockey is a joke. Come back soon Cory Schneider. I’m sure Hasan is thinking the same thing.
Eventually, Patrick Kane put the game away by sweeping home his own rebound that hit the post. He backhanded in his ninth before the net went off its moorings. Somehow, the refs were too blind to notice it. Then, Quinn challenged for goaltender interference. There was none. The goal counted. At that point, I checked out.
I’m only gonna say this once. They better give a damn good effort on Saturday. This was inexcusable. The loss dropped the Rangers to 3-6-1. They rank 29th out of 31 through the first 10 games.