As will be customary for most weekend games, we have a guest reviewer.
Rangers vs Jets – In Review
By Jeff Yerger
(Just a quick, shameless plug for me… feel free to join me on Twitter if you got it: @jyergs. Also, I occasionally write stuff here: https://sundaybarrel.wordpress.com/)
1. You gotta love these Sunday night, non-conference match ups. Those fans at the Garden sure seemed excited to see all that young Jets talent come to town. Or maybe they were just leftover from the Knicks.
2. To me, this game had a big fat “L” written all over it for the Rangers, being their 5th game in 8 days, and the night after a well-earned road win against an Original Six rival. These guys are only human right? How the heck do you get up for a game – against a middle-of-the-road team you only see twice a year – on the B-side of a back-to-back weekend? Plus, the Jets did not play the night before, and they had A LOT of young talent with fresh legs on the ice. So yeah, this one had dud written all over it.
3. But how many times this season have we said “last year’s team loses this game”? This year’s Ranger’s squad is most definitely not last year’s team.
4. The Rangers started the game strong, with a pace that the Jets weren’t prepared for. They’re using their speed so well this season. I think the Rangers have more odd-man rushes this year so far than they had all of last season. It seems like it anyway.
5. You know what they say: there’s no such thing as having two starting goalies? Well, the Jets don’t even have one. Woof! And it didn’t take long for the Rangers to exploit this weakness. Hayes starts the scoring with a harmless wrister on net from the point that Hellebuyck HAS to save. But when you’re hot, you’re hot, and Hayes continues his streak en fuego.
6. Midway through the first period, the Jets woke up and put the Rangers on their heels, dancing around the Rangers defense and hitting a few posts in the process. After some sustained offensive-zone pressure, Ben Chariot put the puck towards the net and the 18-year-old rookie Patrik Laine is able to out muscle Brady Skjei and get his stick on the puck to deflect it past Lundqvist. Tie game.
7. Laine is a big, strong dude with some mitts on him. The Jets were lucky to draft him. Kid’s gonna be a star. He’s already playing like one.
8. In the 2nd period, Winnipeg continued to control the play. The Rangers didn’t have a sharp start, and weren’t able to put pressure on in the Jets zone at all. Hellebuyck could’ve sat back and sipped some ice tea… I mean lemonade! Read the sign!
9. That line of Laine-Lowry-Petan was giving the Rangers some trouble. Staal, in particular, had a tough game against this younger Jets team. He didn’t look comfortable for most of the night.
10. Byfuglien = Monster… but you knew this already. There was a sequence in the 2nd period where he ripped a nasty shot on goal, then had to hustle back and break up a quality scoring chance from Grabner to Pirri. Then how about those two GIANT hits on Buchnevich? Whoo boy! Welcome to the NHL, kid.
11. But big tree fall hard, and the Rangers took advantage of a Byfuglien tumble. Kreider immediately controlled the puck, gained the zone quickly, and fed a sharp pass to Zuccarello, who did not hesitate to pick a corner.
12. Good things happen when you stop playing fancy-boy hockey and start thinking shoot-first.
13. Yet, Winnipeg continued to stay hard on the puck, not giving the Rangers a lot of time to make plays in their own zone. The fresh legs of the Jets were starting to show. Not long after Zuccarello’s goal, the Rangers have a major defensive lapse in their own zone, leaving the middle of the ice wide open. Jets Defenseman Paul Postma could’ve landed a jumbo jet inside all that room he had to skate. He puts the puck on net, and a scramble ensues in Lundqvist’s crease. Skjei tries to save the loose puck, but Scheifele buries it. Tie game again.
14. Then about a minute later, the Rangers’ first line of Hayes-Grabner-Miller strikes back. Miller wastes notching his 5th of the season, shooting the puck short side over Hellebuyck’s left shoulder. Although Hellebuyck should’ve challenged that shot better, Miller did the right thing and put the puck on net. This kid is really blossoming into a mature and smart hockey player. It started at the end of last season, and it’s really starting to show early on in this campaign.
15. The Rangers have a legitimate fourth line again. Great play by Pirri to gain the zone, Klein sends the puck to the net, and the Rangers get a fortuitous bounce off of Fast’s right skate. Adios Hallebuck, hello Michael Hutchinson. I think there was a traffic cone on 7th Ave that the Jets should’ve put in goal instead.
16. Boy oh boy, how about that move by the rookie Russian Buchnevich for the Rangers’ 5th goal of the night? Skill, patience, strength. Think he’s starting to feel it? The young talent not only on the ice tonight but throughout the entire NHL this year is really spectacular. Too bad Bettman and his cronies have to dilute it by putting a hockey team in the middle of the freakin’ desert.
17. So, ya boys have scored 5 or more goals for 5 games in a row now, the first time this has happened since 1978-79. Papa John’s running out of pizza dough, and he’s got Peyton Manning working overtime in the kitchen.
18. Daily Nash-O-Meter: 1 SOG. 2 PIMs. Shrug.
19. Of course, we can’t forget about Henrik Lundqvist, who had a quietly spectacular game. After the barrage of goals in the 2nd, it’s easy to forget how solid Lundqvist was in goal. After watching a team like the Jets ride the goalie carousel, it makes you appreciate the insurance and comfort of having Henrik Lundqvist back there. The way the first half of that period went, it easily could’ve been 5-2 the other way. When the Rangers D-men got beat tonight, Lundqvist was there to bail them out.
20. By the time the third period came around, the Rangers were running on fumes. They called more timeouts in the third than they had shots on goal. Nevertheless, the Rangers didn’t lapse defensively. They limited the Jets’ chances, blocking shooting lanes and keeping the puck to the outside, especially during the two penalties the Rangers had to kill. They closed the game out without any hiccups.
21. Is it just me or have our fine NHL officials actually been… well… fine so far this season? There were only two penalties called in this game, with a bit of a soft call on Nash with the hook, but when the stick’s horizontal like that, the refs are going to call that every time.
22. Like I said, you gotta love those Sunday night MSG crowds. Score 5 goals? Barely a peep in the third period. Throw a crappy XL t-shirt into the stands? The crowd goes wild. Although, to be fair, there wasn’t much in the third period to cheer about anyway.
23. Did Blake Wheeler play tonight?
24. Zibanejad has cooled down offensively as of late, but I still would take him over Derek “It’s Hard to Play Against Other Teams’ Top Lines” Brassard any day. Speaking of, what’s Brassard doing these days? 3rd line?
25. Oh by the way, this is the Fox Woods Final Five.
26. How about little Landon Girardi taking the ice between periods? How cool was it to see him on the ice with daddy Dan watching/filming rink side? It seems just like yesterday we were watching baby Landon and Dan on HBO shooting pucks in their apartment. Heck, Landon stayed on his feet more than his dad does! I think I see a future defensive liability for the Rangers. I kid, I kid.
27. How about that Leafs/Canucks game the other night, eh? 157 PIMs in the third period. Holy shishkabob! Also, there’s nothing quite like a good ol’ fashioned goalie fight.
28. Please PLEASE vote this Tuesday. Your vote counts, no matter which side you’re on. Hey, these candidates could be worse… at least they haven’t proposed that we all have to wear name tags.
Your Three (sort of) Rangers Stars:
1. JT Miller
2-4 tied, Hayes, Lundqvist, Buchnevich.