by Patrick Hoffman on 10/16/08 at 11:10 AM ET
If there was a team that the New York Rangers were going to lost, it was last night’s against the Buffalo Sabres. Much like the Rangers, the Sabres were undefeated (2-0), getting timely goal-scoring, playing solid defense and getting excellent play from their goaltender (Ryan Miller).
As such, it should come as no surprise that the Blueshirts lost their first game of the regular season last night to the Sabres by a score of 3-1. The team did not generate many scoring chances and took bad penalties, two things that usually lead to a loss.
Let’s face it, even at 5-0, the Rangers were not playing their best hockey. For example, last Saturday night, the team almost let a 4-0 lead to the Philadelphia Flyers. Secondly, they’re not getting much scoring help from their first or third lines and are instead relying on the second line of Aaron Voros, Brandon Dubinsky and Nikolai Zherdev to be productive.
Last night was a perfect example of that. The second line was held scoreless and only Scott Gomez was able to break through on one of his team’s 20 shots. If this team wants to have any kind of chance to win the Stanley Cup this season, they are going to need scoring from at least two out of their four lines instead of just one.
In losing their first game of the young season, the team was never out of the game despite playing poorly. They started the game off on the right foot by scoring early on Miller and finished the game strong by being able to throw pucks to the net and generate scoring chances, which they were not able to do during the second period.
“They played just a little bit better than us tonight, especially on the power play, that was the difference,” Henrik Lundqvist told the team’s website. “They crashed the net really well. They had guys around me all night.”
Rangers’ head coach Tom Renney also acknowledged that the team didn’t have it last night and how that will happen sometimes during the course of the season.
“I know that this is a group of guys that badly wants to do well,” Renney said. “They want to play the game in a way that the fans and they can be proud of, but it’s not going to go your way every night.”
This is why every two points is important and right now, the Rangers are at the top of the league with 10.
The team will hopefully learn from their mistakes and get back on track when the meet the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden.
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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.