The New York Rangers are only off to a mediocre start this season. They started out of the gate stumbling all over the place like Bambi on skates, but are finally putting the pieces together under new head coach Alain Vigneault. On top of that Rick Nash has recovered from his concussion and was medically cleared to rejoin his team Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins. Unfortunately the night of his return was left bitter-sweet as the team fell 2-1 to the Bruins.
The first period started out great with plenty of scoring opportunities going the NY Rangers way, including a penalty shot that was awarded to Chris Kreider who was tripped on a breakaway six and a half minutes into the opening frame. Unfortunately Tuukka Rask made a good blocker to turn the shot away. Rick Nash had a partial breakaway late in the first period but didn’t get a very strong shot on net, so it was easily saved by Rask.
At about the five minute mark of the second period an unexpected rocket off the stick of Shawn Thorton flew by Lundqvist and went bar-down. The shot was released coming down the right wing on a two-on-two play, and the fourth line grinder scored what was probably one of the nicest snipes of his career. Only six minutes later Daniel Paille stick checked a Ranger defenseman walking the Bruin’s blue line and pushed the puck past him to get himself onto a breakaway which he scored on by going backhand between Ludqvist’s legs.
A minute later however Derick Brassard scored on the powerplay with a rocket coming off the left wing to beat Rask and get the NY Rangers back in the game at a score of 2-1. The two teams would go back and forth, each getting several opportunities of their own to either knot the game up, or in the Bruins’ case jump ahead by two again. Neither team got anymore scoring done though, and the Rangers fell to the Bruins by a 2-1 final. Rask was given the 1st star of the game award for only allowing one goal on 44 shots and backstopping the Bruins to a hard fought win.
After that loss the Rangers now currently sit in 3rd place within the Metropolitan Division with 10 wins and 11 losses, for a total of 20 points. They have 43 goals for and 52 goals against at the 21-game mark of the season. Now these are disappointing numbers, but they still remain in a comfortable position within their Division and Conference because of the less competitive atmosphere in the Eastern Conference. 20 points are good for 8th in the Eastern Conference, but that total would leave them in 13th position in the West. There’s definitely room for improvement, but with one of their top players back in the lineup, as well as a new coach trying to implement a proven system that got him a lot of wins with the Canucks. They are in good shape moving forward, and they are only currently struggling so much due to developing a new system around the team, a system which preaches a puck possession game.
By Brandon Webb