McKenzie: Rangers' defence falls short in Game 4

Bob McKenzie

5/22/2012 12:06:03 AM

Some quick thoughts from the NHL on TSN panel on Monday night.

The strength of the New York Rangers is their ability to defend, and when that fails, their goaltender Henrik Lundqvist usually bails them out.

It was pretty clear early on in Game 4 on Monday night that the Rangers weren't defending to their normal level.

An example of the Rangers' Game 4 struggles came at 9:26 of the first period when defenceman Ryan McDonagh fought Devils forward Adam Henrique.  Less than two minutes later, when McDonagh would have been on the ice with Dan Girardi against the Zach Parise line, he couldn't because he was in the penalty box.

Michael Del Zotto was out there instead, and because Del Zotto isn't as accomplished a defender as McDonagh, and he doesn't have as much chemistry with Girardi, the Rangers gave up a two-on-one to Parise and Travis Zajac that ended up in the net, and gave the Devils what would end up being an insurmountable 2-0 lead just under 12 minutes into the game.

While Henrique is a really good player, McDonagh going into the box for five minutes isn't a good trade for the Rangers.

Game 4 was not a characteristic defensive effort for New York, and they now find themselves in what amounts to a best of three against the Devils.

Top Line Emerging

One of the things the Phoenix Coyotes liked about their Game 4 victory of the Los Angeles Kings was the play of their first line.

Even though the number one line with Martin Hanzal, Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata didn't score a goal, there were more occasions where they got better zone time offensively. 

Shane Doan may have had both goals, but the Coyotes' top line started to create something.

On a day when Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams really weren't that effective, there were times when Phoenix's first line looked as though it was more threatening than Los Angeles' first line.

If the Coyotes are going to stave off elimination here, they are going to need somebody to help Doan. They just can't expect their captain to carry the load offensively every game.

I know injuries and suspensions have prevented this line from being together as much as the Coyotes would like them to be, but there is no question that they need to step up and continue that trend that they showed last game.