Just as Pennsylvania was a key battle ground in this years election with it’s 20 electoral votes, it will be vital for the Rangers to keep it a Blue State if they are to succeed this season as they will meet the Flyers and the Penguins a total of 10 times this season. The Rangers have split the first two games against the Flyers and look to even there record against the Penguins at 1-1 as well. While it is way to early for this to be viewed as a must win, it certainly can be looked at as one of those measuring games.
Coach Tortorella was still upset over some of the Rangers play in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Flyers, during the pre game press conference he stated, “I wasn’t upset at the third period, I was upset about some of the things we did in that third period, not totally the third period, and I still am, we’re still teaching that part of it, the team that gets to the point of handling details and situational play within the game and handle those type of things more consistently is going to be the team that wins more consistently and we are trying to get there as quickly as possible. Situational play is huge in winning and losing hockey games, situational play comes to the forefront in the third period, and that’s where I thought we have struggled a bit.”
The Rangers entered the contest trying to win their third in a row, interestingly enough the Rangers in the early part of season have avenged every one of their loses when they have had the opportunity to do so. Would the pattern continue tonight ? Would the Rangers handle the details and situational play coach Tortorella worried about during the pre-game presser?
The Rangers seemed tentative in the first period, looking more like they were playing a road game. It may have been due to the trickle down effect of Captain Ryan Callahan’s injury. While there wasn’t any facet of the game in the first period that was lacking, there wasn’t anything or anyone for that matter that stood out either.
After the game, Ryan McDonagh agreed with the assemint of the teams tenative play, “We’re not happy with this one. It just wasn’t typical Rangers hockey. We were kind of playing too tentative, I think. We just didn’t have that aggressive mindset.”
The only goal of the period came early as Evgeni Malkin scored 1:24 into the game on a shot Henrik Lundqvist usually stops. The period ended with a questionable call on both Marc Staal and Evgeni Malkin that carried over to 4-4 to start the second period, During a the 4-4 Dan Girardi was called for what appeared to be incidental contact against Sidney Crosby who could have be called for diving , and Chris Kunitz seemed to get away with roughing at the tail end of the play as well. Brian Boyle was huge on the Penalty kill and the Rangers seemed to regain their footing momentarliy .
If Tortorella was angry about details in The 2-1 win the lack of focus in the second period must have had his blood pressure through the roof. To make matters worse after a huge save on a flat out break away by Sidney Crosby, the Rangers took a bench minor penalty . The coach did say the third was when the details come to the forefront and the Penguins cashed in the power play to put the Rangers down 2-0 on James Neal’s fifth goal at 0:28 of the third.The Penguins put the game at 10:23 of the third when Simon Despres—right out of the penalty box and took a perfect pass from Pascal Dupuis who was left all alone in front of the Rangers net for his first goal of the season to pad the Penguins lead to 3-0. The Rangers game close a few times in the third as Anton Stralman’s slap shot was deflected off the post by Taylor Pyatt, and earlier in the period Marian Gaborik shot that also hit the iron.
Both teams seemed to be sloppy,and the Rangers locker room seemed upset at the way they approached the game. Dan Girardi said it best: “It wasn’t the game we wanted to follow up a couple of wins with, that’s for sure. There’s really no excuse.”
The Rangers will have three more games against the Penguins and Flyers so there is still plenty of time to turn Penslyvania into a Blue State with 12 points still up for grabs.