Apparently the Rangers thought Thanksgiving started in the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night.
Because they might as well have been dining on Turkey, because they weren’t playing hockey.
A five-spot from the Pens was enough to chase Henrik Lundqvist in route to the 6-1 Pittsburgh win.
“It was just a pretty tough game overall for everybody,” said Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh. “Anyone who watched it or followed us there, our play kind of spoke for itself, in the effect of not giving ourselves a chance at all.”
Ironically, last Thanksgiving eve, the Rangers were in the same position. Leading the East and then were crushed by the Montreal Canadiens, 5-1 at the Garden. It was the beginning of the end and the Rangers never recovered, eventually losing in the first round to these very same Pens.
So with history repeating itself, the Rangers are at a crossroads. Do they rebound from this or repeat the failures or last season?
“I tread carefully saying to forget about it,” forward Derek Stepan said. “I think it’s really important that we learn from it because we are not in bad shape in the second period, and we just let it go and it just gets so far away from us that we don’t even give ourselves a chance. [We need] a short term memory, we learn from it tomorrow and then we get ourselves ready to play.”
And that means getting back to what made them a top team in the game the first month and change on the season. Not only do they need to make the smart plays, they have to do the little things that winning teams to.
They need to force the puck up the ice and work the corners and not just rely on the fast play that allowed them so many blowouts early in the season.
Simply put the Rangers need to play a tougher brand of hockey or again they will collapse like a house of cards.
“It’s very difficult to explain, there’s no doubt that we disappointed ourselves tonight and we disappointed our fans,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “I thought we played a pretty strong first period, killed off some penalties, had some good looks earlier on in the second and then the game got away from us.
“It’s tough to explain at this point why, but all I know is when we left Pittsburgh after the last game all they were talking about was the importance of responding well and preparing themselves for the next game and I think the same goes for us. We have a Friday afternoon game and right now our response as a team is very important and we need to focus on that.”
This game could very well be a one-off and should be accepted as such. Go back to the way they have been playing and this game will be forgotten quickly.
But if on Friday, the Rangers skate in Philadelphia like they had too much Thanksgiving Turkey, then this turkey of a game will linger.