Friday, December 07, 2007

Rangers Watch: NYR 2, ATL 4

The same start to last night: Rangers gave up the first goal on rebound after the failing to pick up the man driving the net.

The same result as last night: Another Rangers loss (third in a row, their longest streak of the season) and a potential two points missed.

New York left the first period with a 2-1 lead, thanks to Chris Drury's 200th career goal. But bad habits die hard. The Thrashers out worked the Rangers leaving poor Stephen Valiquette to face the following sequence of chances by Atlanta:
  • 3 on 1 odd man rush
  • 2 on 1 odd man rush
  • Ilya Kovalchuk on a semi-breakaway
  • penalty kill where Valiquette plucked the puck off the goal line
New York was lucky to get out of the second tied 2-2.

The Rangers themselves felt they played well.
"I thought we played great," Rangers center Scott Gomez said. "We stuck to the game plan. We did everything, but it wasn't enough."

- New York Post

The fans, I'm sure, have a different analysis of the game. I know I do.

True New York out shot Atlanta, which is something they weren't able to accomplish in their last two losses, but the Blueshirts were still felled by their own inconsistent defensive play. Coach Tom Renney tried to address the problem by scratching Marek Malik, but that's not a cure for poor back checking by the forwards.

Malik will be an UFA at the end of the season, likely his last in a Rangers uniform. Despite being a career +127, much of that on Broadway, he's never been a fan favorite and is now in the dog house with the coaches as well. Scratching him, however, is not going to help him regain his confidence. He certainly doesn't deserve first line minutes the way he's played as of late, but Malik's not as bad a defenseman as his critics make him out to be. As long as Michal Rosival and rookie Marc Staal are in sync, the Rangers should take the opportunity to demote Malik to the third line pair with Paul Mara. Yes, that leaves Jason Strudwick the odd man out waiting for someone (forward or defense) to be injured before he gets a chance to play, but that's why GM Glen Sather brought him back. Strudwick will fill that role without complaint.

Recaps: Y!/AP, TSN Broadband



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