Maybe it shouldn’t be so shocking. The Rangers clearly don’t like Tony DeAngelo. It doesn’t matter that he led the defense in basically every offensive category. He gets no love from half a foolish fanbase that’s so far removed from the hockey part that you question their sanity.
Truth be told, it wasn’t a good night for DeAngelo or most Blueshirts. They embarrassed themselves in a 4-0 loss to the Islanders. The less said about it, the better. Following an awful Jack Johnson turnover, DeAngelo was beaten outside by Mat Barzal for a goal on Igor Shestyorkin.
Barzal would later strip Adam Fox clean from behind and walk in on a breakaway and get stoned by Shestyorkin. Yet you don’t see Fox being punished when he was just as bad. The best defenseman from the forgettable Season Opener was K’Andre Miller. And he wasn’t great. There were nerves which you’d expect for a 20-year old making their NHL debut.
It didn’t explain the lousy turnover from Jacob Trouba that resulted in Miller left by himself to defend an Isles two-on-one and watch Anders Lee beat Shestyorkin for their second goal. Miller did the right thing taking the pass away. His goalie couldn’t come up with the save.
DeAngelo probably didn’t do himself any favors by overreacting to a minor penalty by slamming the door on the penalty box to earn an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. Not a wise move. Even if his teammates got the job done. Here’s a question for coach David Quinn. If he was so upset with DeAngelo, why did he play over 19 minutes? Why not bench him for a period?
Instead, DeAngelo looks like he’ll be sitting up in the press box for the Rangers/Islanders rematch tomorrow night. He was working with the Taxi Squad while veteran defenseman Anthony Bitetto took his place in line rushes. For some inexplicable reason, Quinn had Johnson with Fox in practice. Yikes. Ryan Lindgren was moved up to work with Trouba. The one pairing that makes sense because it can become a shutdown tandem.
What will the third pair be for Saturday? Likely Miller and Brendan Smith, or Bitetto. That’s at least what it looks like. With DeAngelo likely being punished for the first abysmal game where the Rangers looked like they saw ghosts, Fox worked with the top power play unit. A unit that stunk it up. Artemi Panarin did nothing. Chris Kreider was not effective. Neither was Ryan Strome. Mike Zibanejad shot the puck, but was rusty after missing most of the abbreviated camp due to quarantine. DeAngelo didn’t get that shot through on Semyon Varlamov, who could’ve pulled up a lounge chair. That’s how easy his 24 save shutout was. The 28th of his career.
Is DeAngelo culpable for getting beat by a excellent player to the outside on the Isles’ third goal? Sure. Was he foolish losing his discipline by getting an extra two in the third period? Absolutely. However, he was far from alone.
I fail to see how keeping Johnson in the lineup makes any sense following his really poor Rangers debut. The dump in that somehow wound up on the stick of Cal Clutterbuck was awful. It setup the Barzal goal. The foolish holding minor he got in the first two minutes set the tone for Brock Nelson tallying on the power play. It didn’t take long for Trouba to make a bad pinch and watch helplessly as Lee scored the second goal 1:11 later.
The truth is the Rangers stunk collectively. They were a miserable hockey team in Game 1 of 56. They didn’t look like they belonged on the same ice as the Islanders, who are so well coached by Barry Trotz that they can put you asleep. Essentially what they did. Outside of some improvement from the Blueshirts in the second when Toronto and the refs jobbed them out of a goal which Trouba looked to get a piece of to put it in past Varlamov, there wasn’t much. It was the JV versus the Varsity.
For the team to reverse the result from last night, they’ll have to be a lot harder to play against. More North/South style which Kreider alluded to in the postgame via Zoom. He felt they relied too much on East/West and weren’t good enough. It showed. They took too many penalties and were very lackadaisical.
If Quinn’s early message to DeAngelo works, great. It doesn’t seem fair. He’s subtracting one of his best skaters who is a key contributor. If this was an organizational call due to outside crap, then it’s ridiculous. There isn’t anything else to add.