The Rangers fell 2-1 to the Canadiens on a late-goal Friday. Thursday, New York may not have been the better the team, but notched a win, Yesterday, the Blueshirts played much better - at least until the third - but came up on the short-end of the score. Sunday kicks off a four-game West Coast trip in Las Vegas.
A few thoughts:
1) The lines
that started the game were not the ones that ended the contest. During the game, coach David Quinn reunited the e top line turned of Artemi Panarin-Mika Zibanejad-Kaapo Kakko, a trio that may get another chance to play together. “I’d like to give them a little bit more of an opportunity,” Quinn said. “I thought they were OK. I didn’t think they had as many chances as we would have liked, but neither did either team or either line. It was kind of one of those nights.”
Chris Kreider joined Ryan Strome and Jesper Fast on the second line, Brendan Smith got bumped up to the third line with Brendan Lemieux and Filip Chytil while Pavel Buchnevich dropped to the fourth line with Greg McKegg, who made his way back after being sidelined with a lower-body injury, and Brett Howden. Smith was rewarded for his breakaway goal while Buchnevich, maybe because his facial expressions weren't Captain Happy, played three shifts in the third, none in the last 9:01.
2) Alexandar Georgiev
may not have been as good as he was Thursday but he was solid again. With Henrik Lundqvist nursing a "minor" ailment, could we see Georgiev on Sunday? That's the way I would go.
3) Marc Staal
, who missed 13 games and only had two full practices under his belt, returned, probably a game or so earlier than expected, from surgery to relieve an infection in his ankle. The 32-year-old Staal blocked three shots in 16:00 while getting paired with Tony DeAngelo, leaving the other two pairings intact. Staal was forced to play because Libor Hajek is out three to four weeks after spraining his right knee Thursday.
on Thursday's play and the loss Friday. Like a lot what he said, At times, especially with a young team, you do need to recalibrate and go over how you are to be playing. After the game, his comments on this just being the "ebb-and-flow" and what can happen to young players, but they will learn from it, was spot on.
“Sometimes you have to hit the reset button, recap what we need to do structurally, systematically, that we’re going to need throughout the season,” he said. “If we’re going to have a chance to do what our ultimate goal is we certainly cannot play like that, with that little structure and passion.
“We’ve talked about — we’ve had six or seven of them, which is way, way, way too many. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to focus on where we’re at. You know, we’ve won 14 games, and I would say 12 of them we deserved to win, and two we didn’t — the one in Carolina and (Columbus) were two games that we stole. But at the end of the day, we’re in a situation where we’re hovering around a playoff spot, we’re where we want to be, we’ve got some games in hand. … We’ve got to learn from (Thursday). It wasn’t pretty.”
As Carp noted, it was a risky play by Ryan Lindgren that should have been a safe play, and then likely a point for each team and an overtime. Maybe a shootout. But the puck deflected off a shin pad and then all heck broke lose.
“I think that’s a big piece of it,” Quinn said. “They’re a little more seasoned and have a little more experience than we have. When we have that type of time, we don’t want to try to force a play, which has been kind of a problem for us. That’s kind of what happened at the end there.
“But these guys are also in their early 20s or late teens, playing close to 30 games in this short period of time, it might be catching up to some of them. But that’s the ebbs and flows of a hockey season for young players.”