John (General Glare) Tortorella’s primary lesson in Hockey 101 remains simple; play hard, play smart, block shots, score goals and win by one if necessary. Two, is even better, as was the case last night.
Returning to his once favorite haunt, General Glare managed a smile at The Garden if only because his Blue Jackets turned the Blueshirts blue in the face with their second-period goal explosion, putting his team up 5-0.
After that, Torts went blue in the face as the Blueshirts mounted a heroic third-period four-goal rally that, eventually, fell short of its mark.
Coming off an All-Star Break that promised Alain Vigneault‘s sextet a Thruway to the post-season, the Rangers managed to return to the same pot-holed ride that cost them their last loss to Philadelphia on Seventh Avenue.
While Steve Mason’s airtight goaltending was the problem last week, this time it was the overwhelming Blue Jackets offense and Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggle to complete the game. That combination ultimately torpedoed the New Yorkers.
“The only thing he (Lundqvist) can do,” said coach Alain Vigneault, “and the only thing we can do as a team, is get back to work tomorrow and that’s what we’re going to do. There’s no excuse.”
In his post-game press conference, Alain Vigneault says the the Rangers were unable to take advantage of their early pressure and were made to pay after making costly mistakes vs. the Blue Jackets.
With the rejuvenated Sabres next on the Rangers agenda tomorrow in Buffalo, the Blueshirts must re-create the solid offense-defense-goaltending blend that previously enabled them to win games on a steady basis.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- TOTAL TWO PERIOD COLLAPSE: Down 5-0 after two periods, the Blueshirts required a monumental comeback to neutralize the Torts’ tornado. The valiant New York comeback proved to be too little, too late.
- JOONAS KORPISALO’S CONQUEST: Finnish-born, Joonas had the Rangers number for two periods and then became a four-goal sieve. But he held on long enough to procure two points.
- BLUESHIRTS GOALIES BLUE: Lundqvist got the hook after the first three Columbus goals. Replacing Henny in the second period, Antti Raanta could not stop the bleeding. Antti allowed two more, leaving the Rangers down by five.
The Rangers' beloved play-by-play announcer is one of the faces painted on Antti Raanta's new goalie mask.
- NO CASHING, NO RESULTS: Although the Blueshirts came out of the gates like Gang Busters, they couldn’t cash in and that left them goal-less for two periods. They needed a first-period goal and never got it.
- THE LUNDQVIST EFFECT: Giving up a goal on the first shot of the game appeared to cause Henrik discomfort. “I know I need to be better,” he agreed. “The third goal was a killer.” The puck hit off his glove enabling a rebound — and another Columbus score.
- A SECOND PERIOD DELUGE: The Blue Jackets scored four goals on eight shots in the second frame. A combination of defense turnovers and goaltender’s failing to compensate, virtually put a win out of reach.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- THE UNCANNY COMEBACK: Down 5-0 after two periods, the Rangers did what few teams could in a similar situation. They rallied to pull within two goals of tying the game. Goals by Jimmy Vesey, Michael Grabner, Chris Kreider and Kevin Klein gave the visitors a good scare; but didn’t produce points.
- GUNNERS KEEP GUNNING: Grabner’s red light puts him up to an astonishing 22 on the season. The Amazing One shows no signs of slowing down, either with goals or speed. Likewise, Kreider now is one short of 20 goals and rookie Vesey is up to a dozen.
TURNING POINT: The machine gun effect of Columbus second period goals made a Rangers comeback climb almost impossible. “Our decision-making wasn’t good enough when they made it 2-0 and then 3-0,” Vigneault explained. “Good teams make you pay.”
WHAT THEY SAID:
- HENRIK LUNDQVIST: “As a group, we responded well in the third period. The intensity and energy we had is something that when we have it we’re a good team. But it starts with me, and especially that third goal. That’s something that bothers me. Back to work; get better; improve.”
Henrik Lundqvist talks about his performance after he was pulled from the Rangers' 6-4 loss to the Blue Jackets.
- DAN GIRARDI: “We can’t try to do too much and deviate from the game plan. We need to just stay and do the same things that we did in the third period. We played together and worked swinging away — and we played the game plan. When things are not going right, you need to stick to it and not deviate from it.”
- RYAN MCDONAGH: “We’re in the second half of the season now so there are no excuses for coming out and playing that way. And that’s on us veteran guys, making sure we have everyone going the way we need to.”
- MAVEN REPORTER PATRICK MCCORMACK: “The Rangers picked up where they left off after their loss to the Flyers before the All-Star break. They were creating chances from the opening face-off, were cycling and maintained possession in the Blue Jackets zone. But Columbus scored on its first shot, then added the second-period goals and — just like that — the game was out of reach.”
COMING ATTRACTIONS: Rangers at Buffalo on Thursday, February 2. 7:30 p.m. TV — MSG Networks.
BOTTOM LINE: The first game after the All-Star break can be deceptive. It would be premature to make any long range predictions about what the loss to Columbus means. That said, Henrik Lundqvist’s next match — most likely against the Sabres tomorrow — bears watching. Ditto for the defense.