Thursday, March 24, 2011
'Sleeping' Rangers suffer lethargic loss
By Matt Ehalt
NEW YORK -- After a lethargic loss to the Senators, the Rangers left the Garden like thieves in the night with a point they might not have deserved.
“Tonight everybody didn’t [play with energy] and tonight we steal a point,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said following his team’s 2-1 loss in the shootout. “We take the point, stuff it in your back pocket and move by this and get ready for a team [Boston] that just spanked Montreal.”
Somehow escaping the Garden with one point seemed about the only positive for the Rangers after Thursday’s loss, as the team openly questioned its energy in the locker room afterward. While the players weren’t visibly downtrodden or angry, they understood they didn’t bring the intensity needed against an inferior team.
“I thought we didn’t play the game we needed to,” forward Ryan Callahan said. “It was an important game for us. We needed two points and we didn’t have the effort we needed. It is a tough one but we need to put it behind us.”
Much like Tuesday's game against Florida, when the Rangers won 1-0 on a third period goal by Brandon Dubinsky, the Rangers had little life through the first two periods. They attempted just five shots in the fist period and never created great scoring opportunities for themselves. The lack of excitement left fans silent and at times disinterested.
The Ranges offense had little pace and rhythm, with off-sides and icing seeming to be the plays of choice, and the fans even showed their frustration with a minor chorus of boos as the team left the ice in the second period trailing 1-0. Ottawa had taken a lead on a goal by Ryan Shannon.
While the Rangers eventually played inspired hockey in the third period, resembling the team that had won five straight games entering the night and tying the game on a goal by Brandon Prust, it didn’t end up being enough. The Rangers failed to score on a 4-on-3 to open overtime and then went 0-for-5 on the shootout, with no real good scoring chances against Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson. Anderson stopped 30 shots.
“It was just us sleeping,” forward Vinny Prospal said. “I wouldn’t say it was a lack of effort. It just was a game we didn’t have energy to generate anything. We don’t have too many of those.”
Even as bad as the Rangers played, though, the point they collected loomed large afterward. As goalie Henrik Lundqvist noted afterward, the team could at least find some solace that despite scoring just two goals in its last two games, it had managed to somehow get three of a possible four points.
At this time of season, each point is critical. Even if a team plays a regrettable 60 minutes.
“We don’t play too many bad games. We haven’t this year,” Tortorella said. “Tonight was one of them.”