Gm2: SQF: CAR 4 NYR 1, Rangers outplayed & outclassed in loss, Gm 3 tonight
The Rangers lost 4-1 on Monday to Carolina to trail their best-of-five series 2-0. New York gets their first chance to ward off the sword of execution tomorrow in prime time. An effort like today, and not only Rangers nation, but the entire NHL fanbase, save for Hurricanes' fans, may be reaching for their remotes to change the channel as quickly as humanly possible.
David Quinn post-game
A few thoughts:
1) Lineup: With Jesper Fast out, Kappo Kakko moved up to the second line, Julien Gauthier ascended to the third line and Steven Fogarty dressed. Defense was the same as Game 1. In net, Igor Shesterkin, after some speculation and a few announcements that he would play, was deemed unfit again. Henrik Lundqvist started with Alexandar Georgiev the back up.
2) NHL history - Teams that have fallen behind 0-2 in best-of-five series have lost 55 of 56 all-time. Clearly an uphill battle doesn't describe what New York has in front of them. I get they are playing with house money and if they lose, the consolation prize is a 1 in 8 chance at Alexis Lafrieniere. But the way they entered the play-in round and the view that they had a realistic chance at beating Carolina makes the way they have played even more difficult to handle.
3) Outclassed - Carolina has outclassed New York the first two games but especially Monday. Any attack was blunted before the Rangers were able to generate it consistently. The Hurricanes took every hit the Blueshirts tried to dish out, turned the tables on them, rolling off the shot and creating a scoring chance as New York took themselves out of plays by their overaggression. In addition, Brady Skjei looks like he did when he was a rookie in New York, not the player who struggled from his sophomore season. Moving him was the right call, but if he ends up like Ryan Graves or Neal Pionk, oh boy.
4) Goaltending - coming into the series, on paper, New York had the edge in net. This is why games aren't played on paper. Petr Mrazek has looked like the goalie that helped Carolina reach the ECF last season. Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant in Game 1 and solid in Game 2, but when a big save needed to be made early in each contest, he failed to do so. That's not the reason why the Blueshirts lost, but I will say, the psychological impact of making the key save when needed, as Mrazek did on Brett Howden, Mika Zibamejad and Kakko , can't be overlooked or overrated.
Jaccob Slavin beat Hank up top in Game 1, 61 seconds in. Andrei Svechnikov the same short-side between the arm and body to give Carolina a 1-0 lead. Maybe if Hank makes each save, the end result might have been different. Quite likely, seeing how the 'Canes dominated, making the save would not have made a difference, but we can dream.
If Shesterkin is deemed fit to play, he should be in net, If not, I could see Alexandar Georgiev between the pipes. Both handle the puck well, which would help blunt the Carolina attack slightly. That is a weakness of Lundqvist. By no way and shape and form am I putting this loss on Hank but the team needs.a major shot in the arm. Igor or maybe Georgiev can give them that.
5) Offensive offense - New York had a handful of chances today. They were few and few between, and when they happened, Mrazek stoned them. Howden had a glorious chance in the first period in front off a great feed by Steven Fogarty but Mrazek's glove was quicker. A phenomenal save, but watch the replay, if Howden pulls the trigger immediately, it's a goal. Same possibly later by Kakko, who had to gather the puck and then shoot rather than fire a one-time, the end result was the same. Zib got a half-a-step and tried to go back short-side, but was robbed. Other than these three and Panarin's goal, please point out to me the goal scoring chances.
Who had good games up front? Kakko maybe. Howden to an extent. Zib possibly. Who else? I will wait. No one else. Gauthier was barely used and then was placed on the fourth line. Fogarty saw seven minutes of action, part of which came shorthanded. Kreider should be on a milk carton and he rightly was moved down a trio. Ryan Strome really hasn't been a factor, save for the pass on the ppg by Panarin, who other than that, wasn't very engaged.
6) Blue line blues - did any defenseman play well? The six blueliners have looked slow throughout. Adam Fox has looked like a shell of the player that might have been a Calder Trophy candidate. Tony DeAngelo better be nursing an injury, since his play has been horrific. He scored 53 points during the year, but looks slow and has been beaten several times. Jacob Trouba needs to move the puck quicker and Brendan Smith has not been any sort of panacea. New York's best blueliner by far has been Ryan Lindgren.
My issue with the blueliners and the forwards as well has been the failed zone exits. Second goal against, failed zone exit because Trouba waited forever to move the puck, forcing the turnover, leading to the penalty and then Andrei Svechnikov goal, which likely should have been stopped. Third goal surrendered also came on a poor zone exit. A horrific, weak clearing attempt was easily stopped at the line, leading to the goal. ADA didn't play the pass by Sebastian Aho to Svech particularly well on the first goal and Strome failed to keep the puck in, leading to the break and Svech's hatty in the third. We hope Kappo becomes Svech. He has a long way to go to get there, as Svech is a beast.
7) Positives - if there are any positives to take, it's that the kids (Fox, Lindgren, Kakko and Chytil, as well as , Gauthier and Howden to a lesser extent) are gaining valuable experience. They are learning what it means to play in the playoffs. How you need to raise your game several levels to even compete. This should prove to be invaluable for the future. In addition, as said above, we didn't expect the team to be here when the season started or really when the pandemic hit. To a certain extent, as mentioned, it's gravy. But that doesn't make it any less disappointing to see how these two games have gone and they have been manhandled.
8) Moves for Game 3: time to throw the kitchen sink at it and see what happens. Wholesale changes where feasible needs to be the mantra.
In net, Igor or Georgiev. Lundqvist has played well but the team seems to have a different vibe when Igor is in net. A change is needed to try and change momentum.
Up front: Brendan Lemiuex comes back from his two game suspension and Vitali Kravtsov gets inserted. Sit two of PDG, McKegg and Fogarty. I could see loading up the top line, sliding Panarin up and Kreider down, as we saw during Monday's game.
Start with Kakko on the second line as he did Monday. If Strome struggles, move up Chytil. Put Lemeux on the third line, the only downside is that he could be overly aggressive, resulting in stupid penaalties, which he needs to watch, as we know the officials will be. Go with Lemiuex-Chytil-Kravtsov on the third line. The fourth line includes Howden and whichever two of Gauthier, McKegg, PDG and Fogarty are active.
On the blue line: Play Libor Hajek. At this point, we need to show for the stars. Trouba and Smith have not looked great. Slide ADA to play with Trouba. Smith has been game and played fairly well, but a change is needed. Leave ADA and Lindgren together. Staal has not been great, but I expect he plays and Smith sits. Play Hajek with either of the two to get a different look, because right now, what the team is doing isn't working.