It is almost as if the New York Rangers looked at the list of things that they needed to do in order to win game 2 of their series with the Philadelphia Flyers and made sure that they didn't do a single thing. The Rangers gave away a game that could have made their playoff lives a whole lot easier but sometimes I really wonder if this franchise prefers the hard way when it comes to doing anything.
The one thing this Ranger team badly needs to develop is a killer instinct as they just don't seem to know or realize what to do when they have a team on the ropes. There isn't a player who is willing to step up and finish off a team to turn a game into a laugher.
Up 2-0 after 8:22 of the first period instead of pouring it on and not giving the Flyers any kind of momenteum, the Rangers did exactly that. The experts talk about the shift after a goal being a key factor in a game and they were right as the Flyers went after the Rangers in that shift looking to force a mistake or two.
Carl Hagelin gave them that mistake when he took a bad holding call at 9:56 of the first and the Flyers had the life they needed to get back into the game. The Rangers may have killed off the penalty but they also killed their own momemteum in doing so.
They stopped attacking the crease area, nobody tried setting up shop in front of Flyer's goalie Ray Emery which turned him into a confident goalie. Yes the Rangers had the edge in shots on goal but the majority of those shots came from the perimeter where Emery had all day to see the shot coming in and make the save.
All of a sudden it was like the Flyers had built some kind of force field where the Rangers could only shoot the puck from long distance. The Rangers had 17 shots on goal in the 2nd period but I seriously doubt they got more than a couple of them from in close. And no I am not going to sit here and give the Flyers the credit for this win because the Rangers handed the win to them.
Ranger's coach Alain Vigneault said his team had several "grade A" chances to score and I am sorry but the coach is kidding himself because Emery wasn't having to scramble in his crease to make saves like he did in the first period when he was a step behind the Ranger passing game during the 2 goals.
If you are feeling frustrated about this loss there is good reason to be as the Rangers got suckered into playing the Flyer's sytle of play. The Rangers were reacting to everything the Flyers were doing rather than skating away as they did in game 1.
The Rangers did cut down on their giveaways by 4 but still a 12-5 margin is way too much. Brad Richards and Derek Stepan each had 3 for the game and sorry your top 2 centers need to play much better than that.
And yes the required reminder that Rick Nash other than a secondary assist on the first goal still is for the most part failing to get the job done. 17 NHL playoff games and just 2 total playoff goals is unacceptable. If you want to be considered a star player in the NHL then you better do something in the playoffs as that is where reputations both good and bad can be made.
If Alain Vigneault swaps out Jesper Fast for Dan Carcillo instead of JT Miller then he will be helping the Flyers more than the Rangers. The Rangers will not win if they are suckered into playing the Flyer's style of chippy play. They just do not have the kind of players who can match the Flyer's physical brand of hockey.
Alain Vigneault needs to keep the Rangers focused on doing the things that won them 25 road games like playing a disciplined game where the Rangers dictated the tempo and forced the other guys to play catch up. Changing the lineup because you fear what the Flyers will do also tells your players that their style won't work when it very much has a proven track record.
You Didn't Ask Me BUT
I love Ryan McDonagh as a player and as a person but he is the last guy I would want as the next Ranger captain. McDongah is way too much the nice guy and the Rangers have had way too many players of late who are "nice guys."
I am sure having a locker room full of guys who love each other is nice but the Rangers need their next captain to have a bit of a "jerk" in him. They need a leader who even if he is quiet will want the puck in the biggest situations. They need someone who is not going to be afraid to get into someone's face when he isn't playing good hockey.
Yes they do need someone who will stand up in the locker room and demand accountability from his teammates. Do the Rangers have someone on their roster to fill that role, maybe as I think Derek Stepan might be kind of young but I believe he is poised to become a team leader.