The now 6-8 New York Rangers had their three-game winning streak snapped last night by a highly-skilled Anaheim Ducks team by a score of 2-1, who improved to 12-3-1 on the season. It was definitely a better outcome than the Rangers’ 6-0 loss to the Ducks back in the fourth game of the season, but it was still a loss nonetheless.
Everyone knows that the Rangers lack offensive skill, especially in the goal-scoring department, but what really struck me is just how much more physical the Ducks were than the Rangers. Anaheim greatly overpowered the Rangers last night, and I do not mean by fighting. What I mean by toughness is the ability to battle for lose pucks, win board battles and finish off checks, which the Ducks definitely did in greater number than the Rangers.
A number of times during last night’s game, the Ducks controlled the puck in the Rangers’ zone for extended periods of time like they were on a power play, yet both teams were skating with five skaters. Ironically, none of those chances led to a Ducks goals, and it was two turnovers that instead led Anaheim to find the net. Turnovers are easily fixable, but team toughness is not.
The Rangers just do not have, big physical guys on their team to match with their speed. In many games, it just seems like there is no protection for these players and that the Rangers can be easily stepped on by a better team, like what the Ducks did to them last night.
The Rangers did try their best at times to come back in the game after being down 2-0, but only managed to score one goal at the end of the second period from defenseman Michael Del Zotto. Unfortunately, any momentum the Rangers had at the end of the second quickly evaporated in the third as the Ducks used their lethal skill set of speed and toughness to control the puck in the Rangers’ zone for what it seemed like the greater part of the opening five minutes of the period.
This is a problem that cannot be easily fixed and needs to be addressed by GM Glen Sather, who must make a deal for a physical presence that can net some goals, along with another goal scorer, if the Rangers want to be serious contenders this season.
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