The New York Rangers (somehow) defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-3 at MSG tonight. For a box score, click here.
Sometimes you play well and lose. Other times you don’t play as well and manage to win. Tonight was definitely the latter. I wouldn’t call the cops to report a robbery but I’m not going to sit here and say the Rangers deserved the regulation win they got tonight.
For a majority of the game, the Rangers were given a taste of their own medicine. The Oilers are fast and have decent goaltending. (It was strange seeing Cam Talbot in the visitors net. For most of the night he looked like the “prince” we had grown to love during his time in New York.) And while the Rangers know how to play that way, they showed tonight they don’t know how to defend it as they looked completely lost for the first twenty minutes. Honestly, they looked lost most of the game but got a few bounces in the third to make it look like they knew what they were doing.
I’m not surprised the defense looked horrible. It’s not a secret the Rangers don’t have a mobile backend so I would expect guys like Girardi and Staal to struggle tonight. And they did. But so did McDonagh, who looked far from the player who has dominated for many games this season. For now I’ll chalk it up to a bad night but if it happens again, I’m going to start to wonder if that skate into the glass did more than he’s letting on. Because if McDonagh is the smooth skating defenseman we all think he is, he shouldn’t have looked like Girardi and Staal all night. But he did.
Honestly, I can count on one hand the Rangers players who played well tonight. Kevin Hayes. That’s really it. Hayes had a great game. His linemates, Grabner and Miller, weren’t bad either but I thought Hayes was clearly better. Everyone else? Burn the tape. Not surprisingly, that line comprised the three stars of the game tonight. I’m okay with Miller getting one because of the move he made on the empty net goal. Pucks were bouncing off the boards all night. Miller picked up on it and bounced one off perfectly for the clinching goal.
If I had to find one positive, it’s the fact that the Rangers never quit.
Three times the Oilers took the lead. It took the Rangers 1:58, 5:18, 0:42 to bring the game back to a tie. And then with 1:21 to go in the game, Rick Nash gave them their first lead and they never let the Oilers set up to try and get it back. In a game I felt they barely had control, that’s no small feat.
(Side note: I will admit I am not a fancy stats person but do respect their purpose. I was told stats said the Rangers played well tonight. This is the first night all year I don’t understand how they showed something completely different from what I saw.)
They also got a non-goal call in their favor 4:36 into the second period. It was the right call as Eberle did impede Lundqvist from getting over to make the save. But I also learned something new – apparently coaches challenges including goalie interference calls both ways as the Oilers wasted their timeout challenging the call. That challenge might have been worse than the one Tampa tried last weekend.
In the end, a win is a win. No one will remember how they got the two points, just that they got them. Next up, the Rangers head to Boston for a rematch with the Bruins on Saturday before coming right back home for game against Winnipeg on Sunday night.
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)