Knights March Over Rangers as Blueshirts Fall 2-1 In Sin City

Getty Images

Here is our recap of the Rangers 2-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Mika Zibanejad – The lone offensive bright spot for the Blueshirts was Mika Zibanejad, scoring for just the second time since coming back from injury. Zibanejad showed off why he was sorely missed in his absence, especially on the power play, when he wired a wrist shot over the glove of Marc-Andre Fleury. Mika has been getting his game back in order since returning, and he’ll need to make his mark on games for the Rangers to make the playoffs.

Rick Nash – One thing you can say about Rick Nash is that he doesn’t get discouraged by the puck not hitting the back of the net. Nash had a few chances against Vegas and was noticeable on almost every shift he took. The pending free-agent is playing for his next contract this season and seeing that his level of play and energy isn’t diminishing because of a lack of scoring would interest many, if not all, NHL general managers.

Full Effort – One thing that has ticked me off for a while about the Rangers of recent memory has been a “laziness” when back-checking. This isn’t always, and it isn’t every game, but it seems like after a turnover in the neutral zone or any other transition chance against, you will have two or three players gliding back on defense. You may say that I’m overreacting here, but if it’s unacceptable for a batter to jog to first base on a grounder to the pitcher, it should be equally unacceptable for a guy to not backcheck with full effort.

And you’ll see it here. Three Rangers gliding back and puck watching while William Karlsson skates down the opposite wall for a wide-open one-timer. There was no communication, no initiative taken by any of the other players to be engaged on the backcheck, aside from Shattenkirk trying to defend the pass from Reilly Smith. The Blueshirts aren’t going to be playing past early April if they don’t start treating every game like it could be the difference in their season; which considering how tight the Metro division is, it very well could be.

Ondrej Pavelec – The Rangers substitute goalkeeper was strong between the pipes for Alain Vigneault’s squad. The Czech netminder stopped 32 of 34 Vegas shots, including this sequence in the second period.

Pavelec has been solid for the Rangers as the understudy to Henrik Lundqvist, even if his record doesn’t reflect his play. Unlike previous years of his career, Pavelec has given his team a chance every time he steps on the ice for the Rangers.

Next Game: The Rangers will return from their “bye-week” on Saturday when they host the Islanders at MSG. Puck drops at 1!



  • Free Pavel!!

    • Maybe if he would chip in more than 3 goals over the last 2 months he would EARN ice time. But when Paul Carey has scored more goals than Pavel and Jesper Fast has double the amount of goals in those 2 months, he deserves to be benched.

      Zbibs was benched in the 3rd period of the Leaf game before Christmas break, he responded. Maybe this will wake up Pavel.

  • Selective discipline. AV’s hallmark. It is a flawed approach and will never yield results with professionals. There is no accountability found when a coach is inconsistent. The coaches credibility goes out the window when some are taken to task over and over and others are ignored. Its not a matter of favouring veteran vs prospect. That’s too easy. So you think AV’s tough love turned around Z’s game? Nope, he had the game and competitive spirit all along. He was coming off a long layoff and finally, with playing time, rounded into form.

    There are plenty of other miscreants on this roster that are not burying the puck in the net. Is that your only criteria?. Among all those who are not scoring, Pavel alone (and perhaps Nash) has the singular skill set to extricate himself from the funk, and improve the production of others. Ask yourself, how much of this lack of production is due to the merry go round of line mates that AV concocts at will. Placing him in the press box when the team is hungry for goals and is regressing on the PP is inexplicable at best and borders on the insane. Either way, it is worthy of condemnation.

    Kreider is on the shelf. Nash can’t finish. Who are you going to turn to? Paul Carey? Pavel is 3’rd on this roster in scoring. That is justification enough to keep him on the active roster and place him in a position to succeed. Ain’t never seen a goal from the press box. End of story.

    When is this head coach going to own a flawed defensive system that this team cannot exploit. He is out coached at almost every turn, even by the likes of Phil Housley and (gasp) Rick Tocchet. AV is the cancer that will plague this club until it fully implodes and Gorton wakes up from his slumber. It can’t come soon enough.

    • Selective discipline? Wasn’t Zibanejad benched during a game? He responded. Wasn’t Brendan Smith benched multiple times for horrendous play? Didn’t Shattenkirk get beached for 3 periods in multiple games do to bad play? Hasn’t Miller been switched to different lines because of mental mistakes? He responded with better play? He’s benches his best players who weren’t getting it done.

      Pavel isn’t a two way player so when he isn’t going offensively it’s not like he gets the job done in his own zone. Nash who can’t buy a goal still plays an exceptional defensive game. Pavel isn’t in the same zip code defensively. What exactly has he done over the last few games? He’s getting very little offensive chances. Sitting one game isn’t a major news story.

      You criticize AV yet when asked who you want as a coach, you disappear. I’ll ask again, who do you want to see coaching this team? Let me hear what recycled failure is going to turn this team around.

      • Mike once agin I could not have said it any better. I’ve been saying the same thing on twitter which I think I’m gonna stay off of anyway because there’s so many fans that are just ridiculous. They’re all freaking out that the guy sat a game. Does anyone remember when AV sat Pouliot for a few games and Stralman? They both responded so well that they earned contracts with other teams. Buch started out great but hasn’t done shit since Zibanejad went down and then Kreider went out. They’re talking as if the guy was red hot and AV decided to bench him. I just don’t get why fans think a kid is supposed to just have to show up and get top line duties no matter what. Right now the whole team is playing pretty bad other then a few guys like Vesey and whoever is in the 4th line. That’s also why it’s not so bad for Buch to play in the 4th line for a while. They’ve played the best hockey for the most part. But I still would love to hear what fans think AV should do instead of just saying he deploys the wrong guys. Well who are the right guys and if he’s fired who do they think would be better with the talent we have? I think fans think we have an elite group of players out there. Could it be were just not as good as they think. After Zibanejad who is our best center? Hayes has 17 points on the season and he’s supposed to be our next best. Man this is getting tiring. I just wonder how long it will take these fans that want AV gone to be saying the same thing about his replacement. People were not in last place but you’re getting on AV as if we were

        • If it weren’t for our goalies we may very well be hovering around last place in this division. AV deserves little credit for their current status.

      • Mike O…..

        Coaching candidates that are worthy an opportunity in the NHL:

        With NHL experience….. Kirk Muller. Wouldn’t discard him based on a single season with the dysfunctional Canes. Plenty of experience as an associate coach in the NHL.

        Up and Comer outside the NHL….Sheldon Keefe. Young with plenty of success in turning around struggling franchises. Has a creative offensive mentality. Relates well to young prospects. Has groomed most of the young guns and D on the Toronto roster.

        Any coach who treats his players like children and thinks that sending them to the “corner” in order to get more out of them is not a coach for today’s NHL. This is not kindergarten and there are far superior ways to extract more from talented players. Buchnevich is still third on this team in scoring after spending half of his time on the fourth line and some in the press box. His offensive metrics are better than his peers. No one else is lighting the lamp. There was absolutely nothing to be gained making him a healthy scratch, either for the player or the team.

        We haven’t won in regulation since the 19’th of last month and even in victory against the dregs of the league, we looked bad. Heap that on the shoulders of a 22 year old if you must. I chose to look to a coach who keeps making the same errors year after year. How in the world does he expect to generate much needed offense when one of his gifted O specialists is confined to the press box. I haven’t even begun to rant about the misuse of Shattenkirk and favouring an AHL retread over Smith, a D you just re-uped to the tune of 17 million. Shades of Tanner Glass and Dan Girardi who clearly were favourites of AV’s and could do no wrong. Modest journeymen and offensive producers like Lee Stepniak, Emerson Etem and Keith Yandle, languished in AV’s dog house in favour of of players
        who offered little at either end of the rink.

        All this is not to say that we have a “great team” worthy of cup contention, it is merely to point out that our esteemed coach is doing nothing to move this club to the next level. His limited success with the Rangers is tethered to superb goal tending and that, in and of itself, requires no coaching; other than that credited to Benoit Alaire.

        Gorton is quickly becoming the issue for not dealing with the problem that is AV.

We would love your thoughts! Comment Please!