Not too many positive things to say after last night so I’ll try to keep it short. The Rangers were back in action last night after yet another lengthy break in their schedule. Following their first loss of the season to Edmonton on Saturday, the boys looked to get back on track against a struggling New Jersey Devils team, who were still searching for their first victory of the 2019-20 campaign. Reports throughout the week reports indicated the Rangers conducted numerous high-tempo practices including inter-squad scrimmages that Coach Quinn was extremely vocal within. Prior to puck drop last night, Coach Quinn explained in a puzzling move that forward Brendan Lemieux would be a healthy scratch and would be replaced by veteran tough guy Michael Haley, who would make his season debut. Many speculated that Lemieux’s absence was contributed to him missing practice due to flu-like symptoms, however it was later confirmed that his benching was associated with some undisciplined penalties throughout the first three games. Also, goaltender Alexandar Georgiev would be make his second appearance of the season. Additionally, forward (or whatever you want to call him, I prefer manikin with a broom stick) Brendan Smith would be promoted to third line. This only reinforcing the rumor that our team objective is create the most incompetent, dysfunctional lineup as humanly possible. As things usually go, even bad teams can’t lose forever. Even a bad team will find a way to win a decent amount of games in an 82 game regular season, this isn’t the NBA. With all of that being said, the winless Devils, appeared almost destined to catch a few breaks and… well …it happened.
The puck was dropped in Newark and the first matchup of this historic rivalry of the 2019-20 season was underway. The Rangers came out strong and looked to have their legs under them after their most recent break. At 6:02 of the first period Tony D opened up the scoring burying a loose rebound in front of Mackenzie Blackwood and gave the Rangers a 1-0 early lead.
The Rangers maintained substantial pressure in the Devils zone throughout most of the period, but chances continued to go back and forth. At the 12:58 mark of the period, Devils forward Blake Coleman fired a wrist shot that Georgiev attempted to stop with his mask, however the Rangers goalie unintentionally headed the puck off his cage and between his own legs. The period ended with the score tied at one.
The second period did not go well for the blueshirts. The Devils appeared to have gained momentum and seemed to out chance and out hustle the Rangers throughout the majority of the period. At 02:13 of the second period, Brady Skjei was called for interference after Devils John Hayden must have been auditioning for a role with Emmy aspirations, as he dove to the ice on the phantom call. As luck would have it, only a few seconds later the Devils cashed in on their powerplay chance when Kyle Palmieri roofed a loose puck over the shoulder of Georgiev to give the Devils a 2-1 lead. After some chances from both sides the Devils extended their lead at the 12:25 mark after Devils forward Miles Wood used all of his skill and finesse (sarcasm emphasized) to deflect an already deflected puck with the back of his pants and into the back of the Rangers net. The period ended with the Rangers trailing 3-1.
However, at the beginning of the third the blueshirts appeared to have life. Jesper Fast buried his goal of the year at 2:22 of the third period off a beautiful pass in front of Blackwood by Ryan Strome.
Unfortunately, that lead didn’t last long. After a few unsuccessful powerplays and more back and forth chances, the Devils found themselves again on the right side of luck as Devils Nikita Gusev collected a loose puck after Panarin broke his stick on a clearing attempt and put the puck five hole on the Rangers goaltender. Only a few minutes after and up a man on a 6 on 4 powerplay with the net empty, the Devils P.K. Subban fired a puck cross ice and into the vacant goal to give the Devils the 5-2 lead. That score remained and the Rangers found themselves in the midst of their first losing streak of the season, officially dropping their last two contests.
The Rangers will be back in action tonight at 7pm in Washington. They will have a lot to improve upon. The team finished 0 for 6 on the powerplay and were also guilty of seven minor penalties. They will need to clean it up and take advantage of offensive opportunities as they look to get back into the win column against this strong Capitals team.