- What a game. Something for everyone, even Wicky.
- The lower bowl was awfully empty for the first 10 minutes, but then it filled in pretty nicely. There was a great atmosphere in the building, especially during the third period. For an interconference game in early November, the Garden erupted pretty loudly after the tying, winning, and empty net goals. There was even appropriate cheering for good defensive play.
- I went to the game with the intention of taking notes so I could write up a nice review, but the only note I managed to get down was “Terrible pass by Zibanejad on the first PP. Went to Lander right in the slot. Lucky it wasn’t McDavid.” So there’s that.
- I did manage to tweet some, but nothing too consequential. So I’m not going to be able to break down the goals the way I usually do. Also, without notes, this will be a bit free form, in the order that things come to me. I also don’t really have anything to say about the defense except that Skjei is really rounding into form and Holden had a great finish after a rough start. Clearly, this is a half-assed venture.
- The best line for the Rangers tonight, hands down, was the Grabner-Hayes-Miller line. All three were tremendous. I had been suggesting putting Buchnevich on that line in Grabner’s place, but I was just plain wrong. That line needs to stay together until it is clearly not working anymore. Not to spoil anything, but the trio were my three stars.
- Their best play of the game didn’t even result in a goal. Hayes controlled the puck in the zone, directing traffic with one hand while shielding the puck and skating around the zone with the other. I believe his possession ended with a good shot for Garbner. Then JT Miller got possession and drove hard to the net, almost jamming one home. It was an amazing shift.
- However, my sentiment regarding Buchnevich remains. He’s lost on that fourth line, which struggled mightily on their first two shifts, but Pirri and Fast connected well on the game tying goal. Even so, something has to change. I also did not think much of him on the PP point.
- Stepan is snakebitten right now. He’s clutching the stick awfully hard. He had the puck right in front of Talbot, alone for three seconds, and didn’t even get a shot off. Gotta be better than that.
- I saw some of you saying that Vesey and Kreider were benched, but I’m not sure that was the case. I think AV switched things up to get Zuke with Stepan and Nash, and because of penalties and just situation, Kreider-Zibanejad-Vesey couldn’t get on the ice. I definitely saw them in the third period, albeit less than I would expect. Feel free to fill me in on any benching details in the comments.
- AV’s switch to get Zuccarello with Stepan and Nash paid off in spades on the game winner. Zuccarello busted in to dispossess the Edmonton defender behind the goal line, I think negating an icing in the process, but I couldn’t tell. Zuccarello made a small pass over to Stepan, who worked it back to Holden who took a shot with Nash in front. The shot hit Nash, who controlled it and worked it around Talbot’s outstretched leg for the winner. The place erupted. It all happened because of Zuccarello’s good work on the forecheck and he won’t even get a point. Where’s the justice in that?
- Puljujarvi was the best player on Edmonton. He was so dangerous every time he touched the puck, singlehandedly creating at least 3 breakaways. What a player. He should be playing with McDavid instead of Cro-Maglan Lucic. I think it was Maroon’s goal when all of the Rangers flopped all over themselves, all because of his awesome work. Girardi’s snow angel almost stopped it, but in the end, left it a two on none down low, no chance for Lundqvist.
- McDavid was impressive to watch. When the puck is on his stick, his whole body looks like it’s wriggling from all of the subtle jukes and movements he makes to keep defenders and the goaltender off balance. Also, his edgework is so good that he accelerates without taking strides. It was a treat to watch.
- And for all I said about Puljujarvi being Edmonton’s best player in the game, the play by McDavid with his skate on the Edmonton PP goal was otherworldly. He didn’t move his stick or his body an inch, totally freezing the defense and the goaltender while sending the puck across to a wide open Nugent-Hopkins for the slam dunk. Everyone in my section was asking each other if he did it on purpose. Then we saw the replay. Yup, it was on purpose.
- He almost added a goal of his own, but for Eberle’s interference. That said, I’m not sure Lundqvist would have had much of a chance even if he had not been interfered with. It also erased McDavid’s great work to end up in that position in the first place.
- Otherwise, Lundqvist was mostly great, battling hard and controlling rebounds well. The only real exception was Larsson’s goal, which was pretty soft. I don’t care that he was screened: it wasn’t deflected and it went through him. Can’t happen.
- Talbot was also really good on the other end. Both goaltenders had to go long stretches without facing any shots. I don’t have any numbers to back this up, but it seemed like a few goals were scored right after they had to face shots after long stretches without doing so. In particular, I’m thinking of the Rangers’ first and Edmonton’s third. I might be wrong, though.
- Was great to see Gretzky in the building. My seats in the 200s are in a section which overlooks where most alumni guests are trotted out. For instance, Pete Stemkowski was brought out right underneath me during one of the breaks. I was hoping they would do the same for Gretzky, but they showed him in his seat instead. Gretzky, as humble and modest as ever, sheepishly waved and cracked an “aw shucks” smile at the standing ovation he received. It was great to see him, but do any of you remember his hair being that dark? I kid, I kid.
- I’m still looking for guest blogger volunteers for this weekend. So far, I have one in Eric. I need one more.
My Three Rangers Stars:
- Kevin Hayes
- JT Miller
- Michael Grabner
Your Three Rangers Stars:
- Kevin Hayes
- JT Miller
- Rick Nash, Michael Grabner (tied)