Friday, April 1, 2011
Rangers need to rebound. Soon.
By Mike Hume
For the second straight game the Rangers came out flat. And for the second straight game they paid the price.
The rival New York Islanders pummeled the Blueshirts every which way Thursday night and made the morning of April Fool's Day a cruel one for Ranger fans.
The Isles were flying from the start, but the Rangers somehow managed to strike first on a slap shot by Vinny Prospal. Following a few Islander penalties, including some retaliation for Marian Gaborik checking Frans Nielsen headfirst in the boards, it seemed like the Islanders gave the Rangers every chance to put the game away early. But like it has so often of late, the Rangers' offense let them down and left the door open. A door the Islanders were all too happy to slam in their rivals' faces.
Defensively the Rangers gave Henrik Lundqvist little help in his personal-record 22nd consecutive start, and he paid the price by getting yanked after allowing the fourth of the Islanders' six goals.
After the game, Ryan Callahan called the effort unacceptable for this time of year (via Andrew Gross). You can call it extremely costly too. Depending the results of tomorrow's games, by the time the Rangers take the ice again on Sunday they may be clinging to eighth place by a single point over the Carolina Hurricanes. And while the Rangers battle the Philadelphia Flyers, the Canes will clash with the Buffalo Sabres, which, through the predictive power of Murphy's Law, will probably result in a three-point game that the Canes win.
The Flyers are still battling to lock up the No. 1 spot in the Eastern conference, leading the Washington Capitals by just one point. With home-ice on the line, it's doubtful the Bullies will pull any punches on the 3rd, metaphorical or literal. Safe to say the Rangers will need to up their intensity level or they'll risk yet another disappointing loss at the hands of a rival.