The New York Rangers’ loss to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night didn’t necessarily come as a surprise considering the way these two teams have been playing as of late.
Boston had lost just once in regulation in their last 22 games (17-1-4) while the Rangers had lost nine of their last 12, including three straight.
What was surprising — actually, more unsettling — was the beatdown the Bruins applied, defeating New York 6-1 with backup goalie Anton Khudobin getting the start over Tuukka Rask.
The Rangers started fast as Rick Nash, who has been the centerpiece of many trade rumors surrounding the struggling Blueshirts, put the home team in front with a low wrister just five minutes into the game.
If you’re a Rangers fan, that was the time to shut off the game.
Boston scored six unanswered, including four on starter Henrik Lundqvist, who was pulled in the second period for Ondrej Pavelec after facing just 16 shots.
“It was disappointing, frustrating, embarrassing,” Lundqvist said of his and his team’s performance on Wednesday night. But the Rangers’ MVP all season quickly put the blame on his shoulders; a rather unfair assessment from a player that has kept New York in plenty more games than it should have been in.
“For me personally, I think it’s obviously just a mental thing right now,” he said. “It’s not technical… After they scored two in the first, instead of staying aggressive the way I need to be aggressive, I became passive. When you lose a lot, obviously it’s going to affect you a little bit and you have to work harder to stay in a certain mindset.”
What Lundqvist obviously won’t tell you is that the defense in front of him has been sieve-like at times, leaving him out to dry for a majority of his goals allowed.
Over the dreadful 13-game stretch that has now seen the Rangers lose 10 times, the defense is allowing an average of just over four goals per game. For captain and defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who has also been the subject of trade talks, last night was the embodiment of his team’s struggles.
“It’s probably one of the worst games of my career and one of the worst games I’ve ever been a part of in my Rangers career,” McDonagh said. “So that pretty much sums it up.”