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Rangers issues on display again in 3-2 overtime loss to Penguins

March 13, 2023, 11:24 AM ET [180 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers lost 3-2 in overtime to the Penguins on Sunday. New York was vastly outplayed the first two periods before a much better showing in the third, in which they carried play. The Blueshirts embark on a five-game home stand beginning Tuesday against Washington, during which they face the Penguins on Tbursday and Saturday.

Game recap:

Lines (at least to start the contest)



Scratches: Lindgren (upper-body injury)

A few thoughts:
1) Lines: once again, the blender came out in the third. Pittsburgh carried play the first 40 minutes by displaying a lot more grit than New York while also showing some speed through the neutral zone. Forgive me if you have heard me say this before, but the Blueshirts’ inability to slow teams down through the middle of the ice and softness along the boards are two major concerns.

Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko are skilled players with the latter two still trying to find their way. Grit beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard enough and won’t get their nose dirty when needed. New York looks to lack the grit that existed last year down the stretch with the hope that the skill will coalesce and allow the Blueshirts to defeat teams. Right now, that has not really been the case, and the question as to whether or not that will change looks to be a valid one. Maybe what we saw in the third and the trio of Kreider-Trocheck-Kane, which looked to click a little, bodes well for the future.

2) Third period: coach Gerard Gallant highlighted how much better the team was in the third. As I will highlight below, only the fourth line had a solid night. The rest, meh at best. If the big boys don’t figure it out, the remainder of the regular season may look like we have seen recently.

"We worked real hard in the third, played really well, but you got to do that for 60 (minutes)," Gallant said. "We’ve got to be ready to start games better than that."

“ We played our game," the coach said. "We forechecked, we reset pucks, we got pucks to the net. I just thought we skated and it was the probably the best period we had in about the last nine or 10 (games)."

3) Fourth Line: The line of Barclay Goodrow with Tyler Motte and Jimmy Vesey was once again New York's best, with that trio out-chancing the Penguins, 10-2, according to Natural Stat Trick. Goodrow scored the team’s first goal of the game and that trio plays - way for it -North-South game. The other three lines could learn something from this group. You can make plays in the offensive zone once you gain possession of the puck and limit chances on the other end. Lately, though, it’s been more the inverse, where the other nine scramble to limit chances, impacting the ability to generate offense.

4) Recent play:New York has only have one regulation win in their last 12 games, a span in which they've gone 5-5-2. The Rangers have only scored five even-strength goals in their last four games, with their five-on-five play leaving much to be desired. The silver lining is that they did earn five of six possible points in the three-game road trip with each game going at least to overtime. One positive to take from yesterday is that New York outshot Pittsburgh in the third period, 12-8, leaving Gallant and his players feeling hopeful that they may have found something to build on.

Turnovers resurfaced as an issue in Pittsburgh, as the Blueshirts were charged with 26 in total, including 18 giveaways. Line changes were made stating the third, partially driven by the rough night for Alexis Lafrenière, Filip Chytil and Kane, who were outshot, 8-1, in the game

"We haven’t played well," Gallant said. "We admit to that, but we're still winning hockey games. Tonight, we still got a point against a real good team over there and we're battling hard. We’ve got to be better. We know that. I think everybody in that room knows it."

5) Standings:The Rangers are 10 points behind the Devils and Hurricanes for second place in the Metropolitan as those two teams are tied for first with Carolina having a game in hand. Pittsburgh holds the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Islanders and five ahead of Florida. The Penguins are in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division, six points behind the Rangers.

The good news is, as long as the team plays close to .500 hockey, they have a pretty shot at staying at the three seed in the Metro. The goal is to avoid the second Wild Card and a match up with Boston. Seeing how well New Jersey has played, Carolina may end up the two-seed in the Metro, resulting in a potential match up for the second straight year against the Canes.

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