by Patrick Hoffman on 11/03/08 at 12:35 AM ET
There the New York Rangers were, half way through the third period with a 2-0 lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs. What happened next was something that most realistic Blueshirt fans were for all along: a melt down.
The Maple Leafs exploded for five goals in the final frame to give the Rangers their third loss of the season, giving them a record of 10-3-1.
For any Ranger fan, it’s pretty easy to see what did them in: the team’s offense and sloppy coverage in their own zone.
Despite owning the best record in the NHL, the Rangers’ offense has been a problem for them all season. It’s especially been dismal on the power play and had they cashed in the power play half way through the third period, they could have very well picked up their 11th victory of the season.
Instead, the power play crashed and burned and the Leafs’ went on to score five goals in a little over five minutes. Yes, Rangers’ backup netminder Steve Valiquette could have prevented one of them but this game was not his fault, especially when you get outshot 10-4 in a period that the Rangers’ usually dominate.
What do the Rangers have to do to be successful on the power play? For starters, they need to shoot the puck when they are given room to do so. It seems like they’re all still looking to pass to Jaromir Jagr or even Brendan Shanahan.
Secondly, the team needs to realize that it’s sometimes not all about their coversion rates but instead, is about scoring at the right time. Had the Rangers cashed in on that power play midway through the final frame, I could be blogging about the team being 11-2-1 heading into a matchup with the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
This game should show the Rangers that the game isn’t over until the final horn sounds. Remember, this is the same team that blew a 5-0 lead to the Montreal Canadiens last February and is also the same team that almost blew a 4-0 lead to the Flyers back on October 11th.
The Rangers surprisingly had an off day but I would imagine that they will continue to work on their dismal power play and clearing the puck out of the zone before their game on Election Day.
Hopefully, this won’t be a trend for the team the rest of the way out and that in the end, it’s just a blip on the radar screen.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.