The New York Rangers (0-2-0) fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins (2-0-0) by a score of 6-3 in their home opener at the Garden.
The Penguins scored early and often, opening with a powerplay goal just 1:48 into the game. Ryan Callahan responded with a 5-on-3 powerplay goal of his own halfway through the period, but the Penguins netted two goals before the end of the period and scored a total of four unanswered goals to put them up 5-1 just five minutes into the 3rd period.
Halfway through the 2nd period John Tortorella pulled Henrik Lundqvist who had 14 saves on 18 shots. After the game Torts had this to say about his decision, “I was not going to keep him in there. It wasn’t him, but I wasn’t keeping him in there with what was going on in from of him”. Hank was not himself but the defense in front of him was dreadful.
Taylor Pyatt scored his first goal as a Ranger on a backhand tip-in off of a nice feed from Michael Del Zotto. Rick Nash got the crowd back into the game late in the 3rd with a beautiful “Rick Nash breakaway goal”, that is the best way to describe it. Kris Letang iced the game with a shorthanded empty-net goal.
Things I Loved:
- I love Rick Nash. The man is a star who is playing “the right way”. He is out there throwing his body, sliding all over the ice to block shots, and is being creative in the offensive zone—something the Rangers have lacked for a few years. Nash is quickly becoming one of my favorite players on the team. My favorite point of the game was when a fan behind me shouted, “Nash we lied. You do have to do it all on your own”. I don’t suspect this to be the case for the entire season, however, it sums up the first two games pretty nicely.
- I loved the newcomers. Nash is a stud, Pyatt looked much better than last night, Jeff Halpern was much better on faceoffs, and Arron Asham tried to set the tone early with a terrific fight but the rest of the team failed to rally behind his effort. It was, however, a valiant attempt to get on the good side of the Garden Faithful.
- I loved the powerplay. They not only scored a powerplay goal, but they moved the puck well and got a lot of good chances on the man advantage. Much better showing than last night.
- I loved John Tortorella’s post game comments. Namely on the Orpik hit on Kreider, “Maybe we need to get whacked around a little bit to wake us up” and on Asham’s fight, “High marks to Ash. That is what pisses me off. Ash goes in there, hangs in there, and we don’t come in behind him. When a player does something like that the other players need to feed off of that and do their thing”.
Things I Did Not Love:
- I did not love Stu Bickel. Not only did he get caught flat footed, which let Joe Vitale blow past him, but he failed to pick up Tyler Kennedy trialing the play making him solely responsible for the second goal. I am sorry, but he should not be activate unless the team is expecting a nasty matchup against the likes of the Flyers, Devils, etc. It is time to give Steve Eminger a shot.
- I did not love the lack of cohesiveness. The team seems out of sync as a result of the short training camp. Every pass seems to be to the wrong side of the stick, into someone’s skate, or just completely off mark. They are not playing well together and it is up to Torts to help correct that problem.
- I did not love the blind passes. Those just need to stop. They rarely seem to work and lead to more scoring chances for the other team than for the Rangers. Unless you are Gretzky look before you pass.
- I did not love the overall effort. Once again the Rangers failed to bring their top game. You cannot let the Penguins come into your house and control the puck like that. The whole 2nd period seemed to take place in the Rangers’ zone. Unacceptable.
- I did not love the defense. This one goes along with the effort, but the defense was notably worse today compared to the Bruins game. Marc Staal in particular needs to pick things come.
Fan comments from Pensburgh:
- “First time that Lundqvist has been pulled vs the Pens in 43 games…”
- “Poor Rick Nash…note: CBJ won in the shootout yesterday, and actually looked decent!”
- “Rangers age is definitely showing.”
- “102 foot goal!! ‘Turn out the lights; the party’s over…’”
The Rangers next game is Wednesday, January 23rd against the Boston Bruins.