by Patrick Hoffman on 01/24/13 at 10:41 PM ET
With a shortened season and condensed schedule, this is something that the New York Rangers need to get used to quickly to avoid performances like tonight in Philadelphia.
After beating the Boston Bruins last night by a score of 4-3 in overtime, the Rangers were flat in the first two periods and it cost them in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Not enough offense, too much time in their own zone and untimely penalty caused the Blueshirts problems and ultimately, the hockey game.
Going into this game, everyone knew that the Flyers were a desparate hockey club. The club was off to an 0-3 start, they have a bunch of guys that are hurt and were having trouble putting the puck in the net.
While the Flyers did not exactly light up the scoreboard, they did generate a ton of scoring chances, did a good job controlling the puck and limited the Blueshirts' scoring opportunities. The Flyers also did a good job of slowing day what was already a tired hockey club in the Rangers.
What the Flyers also did was kill a big 5-on-3 Rangers' power play in the third period. The Rangers were not able to get many pucks on net, spent too much time setting up at the perimeter of the zone and towards the end of the power play, they let the Flyers control the puck for way too long.
One obviously has to give a lot of credit to the Flyers tonight for their solid performance. With that said, the Rangers cannot afford to use the "back-to-back" game as an excuse because it is going to be like this all season long.
With the exception of last night's win over the Bruins, a glaring theme for the Blueshirts has been their slow starts. In three of the four games, the Rangers have allowed the first goal of the hockey game, putting the team behind the eight ball and forcing the club to play from behind.
Had it not been for the play of Rangers' netminder Henrik Lundqvist (31 saves), the outcome could have been much worse for the Rangers tonight. For the first time this season, Lundqvist looked like the Lundqvist of old and did not allow any soft goals, kept his team in the hockey game and made several terrific saves to give his team a chance to win a hockey game.
With the way the schedule is set up this season, tonight's performance from the Rangers cannot become commonplace. The team is going to need to do a better job coming out of the gate, generating scoring chances early and even giving themselves a lead.
Of course, another theme that is hurting the Rangers is their lackluster power play. Down by one in the third period tonight, the Blueshirts had a chance to not only tie the game, but tkae the lead when they were given a 5-on-3 power play. Unfortunately, the team was not able to come through when they needed to and it ended up hurting them.
At 1-3 through four games, it is not exactly the time to panic but it may be the time to question some things. Can the Rangers afford to keep the line of Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik together when no other line or player, with the exception of Taylor Pyatt, is producing or putting the puck in the net?
Another question that needs to be answered is what exactly do the Rangers need to do to get the power play going? For starters, they need to be less stationary and need to be willing to throw the puck on the net more.
Lastly, will the Rangers ever get back to playing the kind of hockey that made them so successful last season? Right now, that is tough to say because there were glimpses of it last night against the Bruins but in the team's other games, there were none.
The team will be back in action tomorrow night when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs, who, much like the Rangers, have been an inconsistent hockey club so far. Hopefully for the Rangers, they will be able to find and establish the consistency that made them successful last season and ultimately, one of the toughest hockey teams to play against.
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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.