On a night when the Rangers found their offense, they completely forgot how to play defense. Leaving their franchise netminder Henrik Lundqvist on an island for most of the first two periods, the Rangers fell to the Devils 6-3 and moved closer to missing the postseason in the process.
Thumbs Up- Michael Del Zotto was the Rangers’ best defenseman tonight (not a tough task considering how horrible the defense played). Welcome to the Rangers, Jody Shelley! It took a while for him to get involved but his fight with Pierre Luc Letourneau LeBlond was one of the few highlights tonight for the Blueshirts. The goals by Vinny Prospal and Erik Christensen were some of the prettiest plays of the season.
Thumbs Down- The Rangers defense was non existent. Wade Redden was absolutely atrocious and Marc Staal was just plain average tonight. Henrik Lundqvist was the victim of some terrible defense and bad deflections but he also deserves some blame for a subpar performance. Marian Gaborik was once again a non factor. Sean Avery was talking early but he has to try harder to get involved in the game, especially on a night like tonight when the Devils could have easily been shaken after the Rangers responded to each of their first three tallies.
Three Stars- 3- Alex Auld- Replacing Lundqvist after the Devils’ fifth goal, Auld looked sharp and made some strong saves to keep the deficit at two goals going into the third period. Unfortunately, the Blueshirts couldn’t muster another comeback and Auld finally faltered on a late goal by Travis Zajac that he should’ve stopped.
2- Jody Shelley- The enforcer finally decided to join the party and scored a victory in his battle with Devs tough guy Pierre Luc Letourneau LeBlond (MOUTHFUL!!!). Shelley was also a physical force at even strength and continued his smart play not reacting to a crushing hit leveled on him during the second period by Colin White.
1- Brandon Prust- The other pugilist brought in by Glen Sather at deadline time, Prust brought the offense tonight, scoring his first goal as a Blueshirt. Like his teammate, Jody Shelley, Prust also played a physical contest and was diligent in his defensive game using a strong backchecking performance to help his inexplicably beleaguered defense tonight. Prust is a UFA following the season but his play of late might be enough to get an invite back for a longer look next season.
The Rangers will try to get back on the winning track when they face the Thrashers on Friday night at 7 PM.