Listless Rangers Glide Through Another Disappointing Home Loss

For most, there’s no place like home this time of year. For the Rangers, their franchise record nine-game homestand can’t be over soon enough. The Blueshirts drew ire from the crowd on Thursday night, as they dropped their fourth straight game (all at home no less) to the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team they were allegedly fired up to play.

But the game would get away from them early, as the newly re-crowned King Henrik allowed three goals in just over 11 minutes, and was replaced by Cam Talbot. Talbot, who’s proven his worth as a stalwart backup, allowed another goal in the third to put the game away. The Rangers managed only two goals on 34 shots on net, despite playing against a backup’s backup for two-thirds of the contest.

So what went wrong?

BLOCKED SHOTS: Columbus finished with 19 blocked shots, and while that might not seem like much considering the Rangers got 34 through to the net, many of those blocks were at key times and lead to clears for the Jackets.

PASSING: The Rangers repeatedly attempted blind passes along the entire length of the ice. From behind the Columbus net, to their own defensive zone, the Rangers repeatedly turned the puck over by passing without looking. And even when they did look, passes were often out of reach, careening off the boards, or predictable enough to be intercepted.

ZONE ENTRY: The Rangers played dump and chase all night, mainly because every time they tried to enter the zone, the bounced off a wall of Blue Jackets. Particularly on the PK, Columbus stood tall at their own blue line, with as many as four players lined up to prevent any penetration. The Rangers never really got their forecheck going, and Columbus players were quick to the puck and made sure they always had numbers in battles along the boards.

POWERPLAY: Once again, the Rangers were stymied on the PP. They went 0/3, and were regularly booed as they went back to fish a freshly cleared puck from deep in their own end. They were unable to establish pressure for any significant length of time, even with the man advantage.

For those optimists who search for the positives, there were a few to be had: Dylan McIlrath was a -1 in just under nine minutes of playing time, but he looked good, played hard minutes, drew a penalty, took some shots, and made a couple hits. All in all, he didn’t look like he was playing his first NHL contest. It remains to be seen if he has earned a spot beyond Thursday night, but his performance in the time he was given was solid. The Rangers 3rd/4th lines played reasonably well, but combinations of those players were so varied it was difficult to tell which line was which. Pyatt, Boyle, and Dorsett were easily the best forecheckers of the game, providing the only sustained even-strength shifts of the game. Pouliot also looked much better tonight than he has recently, a good sign for the Rangers, who could really use a hot stick right now.

After this loss, the Rangers drop to 6th in the Metropolitan Division and drop to a dismal 5-9-1 at home. Their next game is against the Calgary Flames who are 11-15-4, and sport the Western Conference’s worst goal differential, at -21. The game will be this Sunday at 7:00 PM EST, and televised on MSG.

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