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Rangers see 10-game win streak come to a crashing end

February 26, 2024, 1:16 PM ET [376 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers saw their 10-game win streak end with a dud, falling 4-2 to the Blue Jackets on Sunday. Against a team that lives to create off the rush and use their speed to generate chances, New York enabled Columbus to play to their strength in the loss. The two teams meet again Wednesday at MSG.

Game recap:

Rangers lineup :




Scratches: Jones, Belzile
LTIR: Chytil, Wheeler

A few thoughts:
1) Streak - you can argue that the Rangers were not always at the top of their game during the win streak, relying at times - or too often - on their goalie to bail them out. Yesterday, that was certainly the case, as Jonathan Quick, despite allowing four goals, was a reason why the game was close.

A microcosm of the game was when the score was 2-2. New York had just tied the contest and 46 seconds later it was untied. Jack Roslovich tallied on a 2-on-1, another in what seemed to be a parade of odd-man rushes against the Rangers.

I blame the forwards to a certain extent, which was the case on Ivan Provorov’s game-clinching marker. Provorov came from all the way down low in the Columbus zone, beating three forwards to the offensive zone, taking a pass in the slot to beat Quick. But not everything is on the forwards.

The defense was brutal, which also has been the case too often lately. Jacob Trouba and K’Andre Miller had a game to forget. The duo was on ice for three Columbus goals, with Miller failing to exert the proper effort on one of them. That pairing has been on ice for the most goals against the past year and their shelf-life may be coming to an end. I blame Miller more than Trouba for yesterday’s failing, though both are culpable for their issues.

Recognizing the blue line’s issues, coach Peter Laviolette made a changes to the defense pairings in the third period. Ryan Lindgren skated with Trouba while Braden Schneider was alongside Miller. Erik Gustafsson saw some time with Adam Fox. Not sure that any of those revised pairings were better than the original duos, but maybe we see a change in practice Tuesday and game Wednesday.

Offensively, New York needs a first line right wing. They also would benefit from Mika Zibanejad playing like a top center. Too often he looks to set up Chris Kreider instead of just blasting the puck on net. Hard to argue with his vision and passing ability, but shooting would make the goalies hesitate a millisecond, creating even better passing lanes.

The first line received some shake ups during the loss, rightfully deserved. Zib was joined at times by Artemi Panarin, who scored his career-best 33rd goal last, and Alexis Lafreniere. Kaapo Kakko slid up to skate with Vincent Trocheck and Lafreniere. Chris Kreider, who had a meh night at best, was moved down to the third line to play with Jonny Brodzinski and Kakko. I don’t think any combinations generated consistent offense, and with less than two weeks left to the deadline, infusions are likely coming.

The one I thought was fine in their limited ice time was the bottom trio. Adam Edstrom scored a grinding goal, set up by a strong forecheck by he and Matt Rempe. Edstrom was on ice for slightly more than seven minutes, while Rempe, due to his fight and evaluation for a concussion post-bout, saw just under five minutes of playin time.

New York’s power play continues to be a problem. Besides the three goals, two of which came 6-on-4 last Sunday, the unit has struggled. Too much passing and not enough shooting, plus the bumper spot isn’t used enough. The high-low pass that used to be a staple has vanished. Laviolette could make some tweaks, but as we have seen, it usually reverts back to what we have seen.

2) Rempe-Mathieu Olivier - like Matt Martin and Nicolas Deslauriers, Olivier set up with Rempe to go before the game. Unlike those first two bouts, Rempe was the clear loser in this tilt. Despite being six inches shorter, Olivier landed several big shots to Rempe’s face, forcing him to be evaluated for a concussion.

On X last night, many people were questioning why Rempe didn’t just walk away and not engage. The reason is there is a code among tough guys, if called out, especially when first joining the league, you are expected to answer the bell. But that at some point has to end.

If I am Laviolette, I speak with Rempe and tell him that he has established his presence in the league and doesn’t need to accept all challenges. My concern there is even if Rempe does decline to dance pre-game, that won’t stop the comers and established fighters from goading him to go. In addition, I don’t want Rempe to be painted with the “he is a goon” moniker because I don’t think that’s true. Laviolette has to protect Rempe to a certain extent and try and minimize the number of fights that he has.

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