Friday, December 20, 2013

N.Y. Rangers vs. N.Y. Islanders; The Rivalry - Game 2

From the desks of:
Rangers Lead Series 1-0
I - NYR 3; NYI 2
NYR  16-17-2  34 points
NYI     9-19-7  25 points
New York Islanders
Madison Square Garden
33rd Street & 8th Avenue
New York Islanders:  Let's Just Say Things Are Not Going According to Plan.
After giving the Pittsburgh Penguins all they could handle in last year's playoffs, the Islanders short term future was looking brighter than is had in some time.  But after getting off to a 2-1 start this season, the wheels promptly fell off.  The Islanders season has so far been marked by horrific losing streaks.  They have won back to back games only once this season.  Instead, they have launched losing skids of three games, two games, two games, and then a four gamer.  On November 9th, the Islanders followed up an uplifting victory over the Detroit Red Wings, with a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, then went on to lose nine more consecutive games.  The Isles finally ended the streak with a shoot-out victory in San Jose, but no sooner took another step back, entering tonight's game losers of their last three consecutive games.
So far, Garth Snow's acquisition of Thomas Vanek has been a complete wash, if not disappointing.  In 19 games with the Isles, Vanek has 6 goals, and 7 assists, for 13 points.  Entering Friday's game, Vanek has one point; an assist; in his last three games.  Matt Moulson, coincidentally, also has 6 goals, and 7 assists, for an identical 13 points in 21 games played.
For several years, John Tavares and Matt Moulson teamed up to form 2/3 of the top line in the metropolitan area.  If Snow was so intent on breaking them up, he should have looked into shoring up his blue line, or sought to acquire an upgrade in net.  The Islanders are currently 29th in the NHL in goals against.
Goalie Ryan Miller will become a free agent in the coming off-season.  The Islanders need to find money and sign him.
With a 9-19-7 record, the Islanders currently reside in last place of the Metropolitan Division.  They enter tonight's match with open wounds suffered in Tuesday's brutal loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Kyle Okposo gave the Isle a 1-0 lead in the 2nd period, then Frans Nielsen gave them a 2-0 lead at 10:21 of the 3rd.  They could not however, keep Tampa down.  At 17:07, the Lightning struck with a Valterri Filppula goal.  Then, the heartbreaker came at 19:56 of regulation.  Just four second from an Islander victory, Valterri Filppula scored his second goal in under three minutes to tie the game at two.  The teams played a scoreless overtime, and then Tampa won the shoot-out by a 2-1 margin.
New York Rangers: The King Is Under Siege.
The Rangers know exactly how that feels.  A sorely depleted Pittsburgh Penguins entered MSG Tuesday night, and took the initial lead midway through the 2nd period.  Slightly less then three minutes later, Carl Hagelin scored on a brilliant breakaway opportunity between the circles.
Early in the 3rd session, Pittsburgh went double barrel, on goals from Pascal Dupuis and Brandon Sutter within a minute of each other.  But at 12:43, MatZuccs closed the gap to within a goal.  Then, the home crowd's reward - at 18:14, Derick Brassard scored on a power play, to tie the game at three.
The team's played a scoreless overtime, and into shoot-out they went.  With no outcome after three rounds, on they went, but not too much longer.  Brandon Sutter factored again, beating Henrik Lundqvist in the 5th round of shoot-out to win the game for Pittsburgh.  The loss pushed the Blue Shirts back under .500 again, who now sport a 16-17-2 record entering tonight's match.
The Rangers also know a thing or two about streaks as well.  Prior to meeting PITT, the Rangers defeated Calgary, however preceded that with a four game losing streak.  The Rangers are 2-6 this month, and have been outscored by a 29-19 margin.  They are at least a single-digit midget in something.  The Blue Shirts rank 7th in the NHL on the penalty kill.
There is no way to say this with tact, so, here - after signing his extension, Henrik Lundqvist has sucked.  The Rangers goalie will turn 32 years old this coming March.  He sports a 3.36 GAA this season in games the Rangers lost, along with an .880 save percentage.  Those are foreign numbers to Henrik.
Henrik Lundqvist owns a career .920 SV%, and a 2.27 GAA, but has struggled mightily in his 9th season, unlike any before in eight previous years off-Broadway.  His current 2.71 GAA, is by far his highest mark, and is plus-28 over his career worst 2.43 mark set during the 2008-09 season.  Henrik's current .908 SV% so far stands as a career low.  Lundqvist posted a career low .912 SV%  back during the 2007-08 season, but has not dipped below .920% in the last four seasons.
And...., fire Glen Sather.  That is all.

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