by Patrick Hoffman on 10/04/08 at 08:30 PM ET
The New York Rangers dominated the Tampa Bay Lightning this afternoon in Prague and yet, only won by a score of 2-1, thanks to a late third period power play goal from second year man Brandon Dubinsky.
Is this a continuation from last season? Are the Rangers going to outshoot every team by a two-to-one margin and score just one or two goals? You would figure that after firing 40 shots against the defensively weak Tampa Bay Lightning, they would have more than just two goals. However, the Blueshirts made Lightning netminder Mike Smith look like Patrick Roy and also went 1-6 on the power play.
So I ask, again, why is this still happening?
Now, I am not complaining that the Rangers won a hockey game. This is a game that they deserved to win because they controlled the majority of the play. What I am questioning is why the scoreboard doesn’t show it.
From the first period on, the Rangers put pucks to the net, skated around effortlessly in the Lightning’s defensive zone and won many battles along the boards. However, the game should have been put away early in the third period after Smith got stung on the left forearm by a Dan Girardi shot from the point.
Smith was clearly in pain and yet, after he was hurt, the Rangers didn’t dare shoot up high on him. Was I asking for the Rangers to hurt Smith? No. What I was looking for the Rangers to do was exploit the injury and make him move his arm by shooting up high.
The power play is another issue. With guys like Markus Naslund, Nikolai Zherdev, Wade Redden, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, scoring a power play goal shouldn’t be too difficult. Yet, the Rangers found a way to go 1-6 with the man advantage despite totaling 12 shots on the power play.
There were also times when the puck was loose in the crease and they had Smith scrambling like a fish out of water and they still couldn’t put the puck in the net. The Rangers have the arsenal to put teams away this year and if they want to have any kind of success this year, they need to do it early and often.
Despite my early negativity, there were a lot of things that I liked about the Rangers’ play this afternoon. First off, I never have a problem with throwing the puck at the net. The Blueshirts were not afraid to shoot the puck tonight and unlike last season, it was nice to see them shoot when they had the room to.
The team’s newcomers all had great games for the Rangers. Naslund scored his first goal as a Ranger this afternoon (it was night time in Prague) and had an array of scoring opportunities. Zherdev blocked a few shots, fired some of his own and skated hard every shift, something he was not known for doing in Columbus.
Lastly, Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist turned in a strong performance, especially in the first period when he shut down the likes of Vincent Lecavalier, Vinny Prospal and Martin St. Louis. As long as his defensemen allow him to see the puck, he’s gonna stop it.
All in all, I’m satisfied that the Rangers won the game but I would like to see a bit more finish. If they can do that, this could be quite a good season for the New York Rangers.
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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.