The New York Rangers were playing confident hockey coming into tonight’s matchup against the Edmonton Oilers. They had won a season-high four straight games and were favorites to beat the lowly Oilers. That is why, as the old saying goes, they play the games. This game had all the makings of a trap game and the Oilers made the Rangers pay for their lackadaisical play.
The Rangers ended up losing to the Oilers 2-1 in a game that really had to be won. The Rangers face the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night in a test to see where the Rangers are before the Olympic break. But the Rangers failed to take care of the game that was right in front of them and left two valuable points on the floor.
If the Rangers could’ve eked out a victory they could have catapulted to as high as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference depending on if the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs won their games tonight.
Cam Talbot got the start tonight as Alain Vigneault wanted to play Henrik Lundqvist tomorrow night on the back end of a back-to-back. The Rangers came out horrendously flat and got down 1-0 after Talbot lost track of a puck that went straight into the air. Derick Brassard got the lone goal for the Rangers. Nail Yakupov hammered home the game winner with under two minutes to play. If you recall, Yakupov was involved in trade rumors with the Rangers earlier this season. Dan Girardi was the rumored Ranger to be heading to Canada if the trade went through. Ben Scrivens played well for the Oilers but did not have to make any spectacular saves.
But trade rumors aside, the Rangers just didn’t bring their A game today. The whole team played flat and couldn’t muster up the scoring chances they have been getting lately. Defensively, they allowed too many players open opportunities in the slot area. This has been a constant problem for the Rangers defensively and one they have to improve on.
It’s safe to say that the Rangers need to play better tomorrow night if they want to have a chance against the Penguins. Hopefully tonight’s game was just one bad performance and they can bounce back from it.