In a game that started out with great physical play and featured some stingey defense, the Rangers were on the wrong side of a 3-0 shutout. Steve Valiquette let in a soft goal from the goal line, much like Henrik Lundqvist let in last night in Calgary, early on in the second period. Daniel Sedin added a two on one goal with brother Henrik that just squeezed through Valiquette's legs, and then Jason Jaffrey added a goal off of a terrible Marek Malik penalty at the end of the third period.
Tom Renney's return to Vancouver was not a pleasant one, even though the Rangers looked like the better team throughout much of the game. Blair Betts and Martin Straka both played fantastic games, but like the rest of the team, they didn't find the back of the net. The closest the Rangers came to a goal was a left post hit by Jaromir Jagr. Petr Prucha had some good opportunities, as did Marcel Hossa. Ryan Callahan was almost non-existant on the second line, and Sean Avery wasn't up to any of his usual antics.
Steve Valiquette is a capable backup, but tonight he showed some flaws. It's hard to win games when you don't score though, so even if the two softies that he let in were taken away, the Rangers still would have lost the game.
Dan Girardi took a few stitches on his left cheek after catching a Ryan Kesler stick to the face, but was right back on the ice in the third period.
It's hard to imagine Marek Malik ending the season in a Rangers jersey. The last two nights he has made some boneheaded plays, and he can't use the excuse of the Madison Square Garden crowd's booing is throwing him off. He had a nice rush up the ice, got a good shot off, but his lazy penalty sunk the Rangers at the end of the game. His constant turnovers and inability to keep up with the opposition's fowards without grabbing, tripping or hooking needs to either be addressed, or just ship him out. I have a hard time believing Thomas Pock couldn't be doing the same thing Malik is doing, at a fraction of the salary.
The Rangers are off tomorrow to travel to Edmonton. Saturday night's game will be at 10 pm again. The Oilers are no pushover either, and the Rangers need to come away with two points so that this whole western Canada trip isn't a total loss. Hopefully Brendan Shanahan will be healthy and back in the lineup. Henrik Lundqvist will be back in the cage and we should see some line flopping. Ryan Callahan might need a stint down in Hartford to regain some confidence and the scoring touch that everyone knows he has.
I'll check in with any news if it breaks tomorrow. If not, catch everyone on Saturday.