The Rangers concluded their hectic schedule in Zug, Switzerland today with a heavy 8-4 loss to EV Zug. While the visiting Blueshirts looked the more dominating team for a large portion of the game, it was the home side who made better use of their opportunities and looked better organized defensively.
It was a comedy of errors for the Rangers, who saw Zug go up 2-0 early thanks to a power play goal to former NHLer Esa Pirnes, and a soft shot from the shot that Biron simply misplayed. The Rangers would get one back thanks to Ryan Callahan, who scored off his own rebound after scoring off a transition of their own.
The reprieve was short-lived however, as another former NHLer - Josh Holden - scored on a shorthanded chance, making Brad Richards look like an amateur defender in the process. Even still, it was probably a goal Biron would have liked to have back.
The Rangers did rally to tie the game 3-3 at the end of the first, thanks to late goals from Mike Rupp, who tipped a Michael Del Zotto shot from the blueline, and an individual effort by Artem Anisimov who beat three defenders and muscled the puck over former Ranger Jussi Markkanen.
The second period started off more evenly, but two more quick goals by Holden and yet another former NHLer in Glen Metropolit restored the two goal cushion. Both goals came from blown coverage in the defensive zone, with Stu Bickel victimized on the first, and Holden getting a clean shot from the slot after Erik Christensen left his man to pursue the puck.
Ruslan Fedotenko kept it a game when he picked up the rebound off the boards from an Artem Anisimov shot to make it 4-5, but that was the end of the competition from the Rangers.
The third period turned out to be one-sided, with Zug adding three more goals, including a breakaway to Pirnes and an empty netter to Fabian Schnyder, who hung out at the Rangers blueline waiting for a puck.
Overall the Rangers looked unable to match Zug's speed, particularly early. As they turned the game into more of a possession game, they appeared to control the play better, though the minute they turned it over, they were chasing their opponents.
In goal, Biron had a game to forget. While certainly there were plenty of goals that weren't his fault, a couple of key saves on the second and third goals, both ones he'd likely want back, would've have potentially given this game a different complexion.
On defense, no one really stood out. On the positive side Ryan McDonagh looks a lot more comfortable with the offensive side of the puck, as does Michael Del Zotto. Unfortunately in the case of the latter, his defensive coverage still was found wanting at times.
Steve Eminger has not had a great preseason, and if there was more competition, he may have found himself on the sidelines. Of the two blueliners competing to get a chance to fill in the roster this coming weekend, Brendan Bell had a relatively quiet game, while Bickel showed that he's probably going to susceptible to speed, but might have shown enough to get the edge.
Sean Avery was a healthy scratch for the second straight game as John Tortorella continued to look for ways to get something out of Christensen. It's fair to say that #40 once again failed to seize the opportunity and looked once again to be playing as if he didn't really need to.
Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan had their moments, but are not yet running at mid-season form, while Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik showed only flashes of what has earned them big contracts. Interestingly, they looked best when paired with Dubinsky, rather than Ruslan Fedotenko whom they started the game with.
Brian Boyle and Mats Zuccarello both again stood out in terms of creating offensive chances, and Mike Rupp picked up his second goal of the preseason, though was quiet for the most part otherwise.
The Rangers will now travel back to Sweden and have a rest day tomorrow after playing three games in four nights in three different countries. They will practice Wednesday.