A movie reviewer for National Public Radio described the newly released movie “Into the Woods” as having an enchanting beginning, with a somewhat apocalyptic second half. He wrote that you may leave the theater feeling like the Big Bad Wolf directed the ending. In other words, the two parts of the Sondheim work are like night and day.
While things aren’t quite that bad for the Rangers, with two puzzling shutout losses now following their brilliant streak of 13 wins in 14 games, the change in fortune over the past week for the Blueshirts is appearing to head in the direction of the latter half of this most recent Disney release.
Night and Day
During the Rangers streak of 13 wins in 14 games, aside from earning 26 of a possible 28 points, here’s some of what went right for the tenants of Madison Square Garden:
- Outscored opponents 50-22
- Henrik Lundqvist went 11-1-0-0, with a .936 save percentage and one shutout
- Power play converted at a 35% clip; almost 10 percentage points higher than the top team’s (STL) season average with the man-advantage
- Killed off 35 of 41 (85.4%) of penalties
While some of these numbers may state the obvious, the Rangers used their speed and quickness to their advantage, which in turned helped them take down some of the top team in the NHL during their latest road trip to California. Los Angeles coach Daryl Sutter pointed that out following his team’s loss to the Rangers last Thursday.
“We had trouble keeping up with a fast team,” said Sutter. “There is two ways of neutralizing speed: Be fast yourself, or slow them down. Even on the (Jeff) Carter line, we couldn’t handle it.”
Bruce Boudreau, the Anaheim Ducks bench boss, even stated that he believed the Rangers are as good as anyone in the league, and with their speed and ability to grind, he also commented that the Rangers will be a tough team to beat down the road.
All of the sudden, though, the Rangers have seemingly lost their steam, as they’ve now been shut-out twice in a row by the same 3-0 margin, and have gone 121 minutes on the dot without having lit the lamp.
From Rainbows and Unicorns, to Dark Clouds and Doom? Not Exactly
On Tuesday, the Rangers fell to their hated rivals, the New York Islanders, in a game in which the Islanders dominated the middle frame, and put a shorthanded goal past Henrik Lundqvist to break the proverbial camel’s back.
And then on Wednesday, the Rangers again got shutout, stood up at the blue line, and fell at the hands of the fellow original six franchise, the Boston Bruins.
In nearly the blink of an eye, the Rangers went from the hottest, Stanley Cup contending team in the National Hockey League, to a team unable to find the back of the net in over two games, and earn much needed points in these ever-important Eastern Conference contests.
But as bad as these two losses may be, the fact remains that Henrik Lundqvist is still, well, elite, and two losses can quickly be erased with another 13 wins in 14 games. They’ve done it once, and they can do it again; they already proven they can make it happen against the class of the league…
Unfortunately for one poor soul though, this most recent loss to Boston just fits an already developed narrative which will not really help his case, and that individual is Tanner Glass.
The Vicious World of Social Media
I’m going to come straight out and say it. I feel bad for Tanner Glass. Now, do not twist my words here. I am by no means saying the guy is Wayne Gretzky. However, what I am saying, is that I do not believe that Tanner Glass deserves all of the heat and criticism he’s been given all throughout this season, particularly within the Rangers twitter-verse and social media circles.
Tanner Glass is so awful it has to be seen to be believed.
— Tim Carey (@CareyTim6) January 16, 2015
If you were to just keep tabs on the Rangers via twitter, I swear you would think each and every loss was the fault of one single fourth line forward. You would think that every missed pass, bad breakout, and soft goal allowed was the fault of Tanner Glass, when in reality, that’s just a bunch of malarkey.
I hate tanner glass so much. Dump him somewhere before the trade deadline please sather — Anthony Imperato (@Impzz) January 16, 2015
Yes, it’s true that after Glass was taken out of the lineup following the Rangers’ loss to Dallas which, at the time, ended their seven game winning streak, they went on to win another five games in a row. But it is also true that Glass was still in the lineup during the aforementioned seven game winning streak, and was out of the lineup when the Rangers had their first stinker of a loss on Tuesday to the Islanders.
I blame Tanner Glass
— Ryanne Salzano (@rysalzano) January 16, 2015
Unfortunately for Glass though, in his first game back in the lineup following his six game absence, the latest loss in Boston is only going to feed the already raging fire that is the “Blame Glass” narrative.
What do you know the rangers start Tanner glass and they lose again — Brendan Dempsey (@big_demps) January 16, 2015
Now, Glass does of course just have one point – an assist – on the season, and he is a minus-12. With almost full health having returned to the Rangers for a time there, Glass really wasn’t needed in the lineup anyway, and if it could remain that way, the Rangers would probably be somewhat better off, as they would then have the 12 most talented players they could possibly have out on the ice; yes, Jesper Fast over Tanner Glass seems to be the more beneficial move. But with Stepan sidelined with an upper-body injury, there was little choice other than to shift Miller back to center, and insert Glass back onto the fourth line.
I don’t think the problem with Glass is him being unaware of the need for possession in the offensive zone. He knows it. Just can’t do it.
— Adam Herman (@AdamHerman_BSB) January 14, 2015
However, all of this does not change the fact that I truly believe that Tanner Glass has still been unfairly blamed for all that has gone wrong for the Rangers at certain checkpoints along the way.
In the lead up to Thursday night’s game in Boston, Vigneault did comment on the play of Glass, and while he admitted that others perhaps had more to bring to the table, he did exude confidence in his ability to give it his all, in hopes that that would be enough for him to stay in the lineup.
“In my estimation, as much as he was working hard and trying to contribute… when I used the other guys I thought they were giving us a little bit more,” Vigneault said. “Now he’s getting an opportunity to come back. I’m confident he’s going to give everything he has and hopefully that’s going to be good, and good enough to keep him in the lineup.”
Again, not saying he’s Gretzky. I’m not even saying he really deserves to stay in the Rangers lineup when the team is at maximum health, I’m just saying that it’s just a tad narrow sighted to blame one guy for almost anything that goes wrong in Rangerstown.
Unfortunately for him, this loss to the Bruins, in which he played in, will only perpetuate the “Blame Glass” narrative.
If you’re going to criticize a player to no end, at least do it in a somewhat intelligent manner, don’t just spew hate.
Silly to Panic
So things haven’t gone well over the past couple of games for the New York Rangers. They haven’t scored, and the effort has seemed uninspired. But is a panic really necessary? Not even a chance.
This is a good, fast squad that can play without almost anyone. To think they wouldn’t hit a rut at some point would’ve been naïve. Here’s one of those ruts. Just have confidence that they’ll push through and continue to butter the role they had been on not too long ago.
The path back to the right track begins tonight in Columbus.
Jake Gittler is now in his second season as a contributing member of The Hockey Writers. After spending the 2014-15 season working in Communications for Adirondack Flames of the AHL and covering the New York Rangers here for The Hockey Writers, Jake’s coverage has been switched over to the Colorado Avalanche for the 2015-16 season. Jake can be reached via email at Jakegittler@gmail.com, or on Twitter @Jgittler_hockey.