29 November 2016
Let's take a look at how our crosstown rivals fared last night.
Before we get to the game, let's stop for a minute to discuss the Rangers this year. Their motto has been something along the lines of - "I feel the need...the need for speed!" - and it certainly has been entertaining to watch. Leading up to every game, we hear the players stating some variation of how they need to use their speed. The NHL betting lines have shifted as a result and the Rangers are often favored most nights.
But what happens when an opponent is able to slow that speed game down? The Senators gave us the answer last night.
People have stated how great Anderson was and also complained how frustrating Boucher's system is to compete against. While it's true that Anderson was fine he easily attained the shutout since he was rarely challenged. It's true that the Senators' defensive style is boring to watch. However, good teams will work around those things. Good teams come to the came with more than just Plan A.
Personally, I defend Vigneault. However, his inability to make in-game adjustments is beyond maddening. If the Rangers want to play a speed game, that's great. However, if an opponent is filling up the neutral zone, then you need to adjust. For Vigneault, he continues to try and put a square peg into a round hole. This stubborness is what ultimately doomed the Rangers last night.
The Rangers tried over and over again to skate through the wall Ottawa on the red line. They continued to turn the puck over and the Senators capitalized. It's one thing to be stubborn and keep at the plan through the first period. Why the team didn't alter the game plan during the first intermission is mind-boggling.
Halfway through the third period the Rangers finally shifted to a dump and chase game. However, the Rangers forgot that they have to "chase" after they "dump". This strategy at least got the puck got near Anderson. Their shots were limited to the perimeter but it was a start. Perhaps if they changed to this strategy during the first or second period, they may have ended up with a goal or at least challenged Anderson.
The defense took a lot of the blame and certainly they did not have a great night. However, they did get the pucks out of their zone, only to see the forwards turn it right back over. The Rangers defense is certainly not perfect but when the team has a bad defensive outing, I think the blame needs to be shared with more than just those six player. The forwards are guilty as well.
It's interesting to think about what the Rangers goalies feel during games like this. Late in the third period, the Senators appeared to be on a breakaway. Raanta headed towards the blue line. He was able to stop the play but then sent the puck up the ice to give the Rangers a scoring opportunity. This was the best pass of the night. It appeared that Raanta would have skated it down himself. If the goalies can see the problem, then, I don't understand why the coaches and players do not. If they can fix that, then Vigneault might actually get the Jack Adams this year. And to top it off, the Rangers probably would have won last night.