Sorry for the delay, but I think this will have been worth the wait.
1. It’s definitely odd that in a game where the Rangers scored 7 goals that Lundqvist is my first star (spoiler), but he was. If he wasn’t as good as he was in the first period, this game could have been over long before the Rangers took over in the scoreboard.
2. Some people yesterday in the comments say that he didn’t make any great saves. I disagree. First minute in, he made a great save on a really fast and cleverly disguised wraparound by Sutter and made it look routine. Tremendous push to get across. Great job keeping McDonagh’s accidental deflection from going in. Great kick save on a low one-timer by Sutter. Late in the first, he makes a save on Gudbranson’s shot through traffic, then makes another save on a shot from the point and turns away the rebound from right in front when Staal and Skjei couldn’t clear the front of the net. Moments later, the Rangers scored. More on that below. Another awesome save at the end of the second period PK in which Fast got hurt. Third period he stopped Horvat twice right in the doorstep. Moments after that, stopped a well-deflected point shot, and held the post tightly to keep the puck out, then capped that sequence by alertly and quickly diving out to cover the loose puck. Stopped another deflected point shot a minute after that. Bottom line: he was awesome.
3. First period, two consecutive shifts against each other, Hayes’ line is pinned in by the Sedins’ line for extensive periods of time. McDonagh and Girardi were the defensemen both times. Canucks rookie defenseman Nikita Tryamakin knocked down three clearing attempts with his stick. It reminded me so much of Nik Lidstrom, behind whom it was impossible to chip the puck. At 6’7″ and 228lbs, he showed some nastiness with the dirty slash on Grabner late in the third and then knocking him down after the whistle. Wicky must have loved it. The Canucks may have found a player here.
4. Lindberg takes a penalty, then immediately takes another. If Stepan hadn’t been hurt blocking a shot during the first PK, you’d have to imagine Lindberg may have been benched for his stupidity. Penalties were a big problem for him last year. Failed to get an unchallenged puck out of the zone late in the second period. He has not covered himself in glory in his limited opportunities this season.
5. Stepan’s injury led to Brandon Pirri taking his spot on the top line with Nash and Grabner. I get AV wanting to keep lines together, but having Rick Nash playing with two guys who started the road trip on the fourth line is not ideal. At some point, you just have to play your best available players with your best available players. Of course, this was temporary
6. The Rangers were outplayed like crazy in the first period. Lundqvist was brilliant. Then, completely against the run of play, Zucarrello pulls up on the right half boards, Miller cuts to a soft spot in middle of the slot and makes a beautiful deflection off of the perfect feed from Zuccarello, 1-0. Here’s a great view of the goal. Somehow, the period ends with the Rangers holding a lead.
7. I’m on the verge of tears by the time we arrive at the second period since I’m positive Derek Stepan will be out hurt, but he isn’t, and relief washes over me in an awesome wave.
8. The Rangers finally get a foothold in the second period. They have a disjointed power play, followed by a great move by Vesey that almost scored. Then Hayes winds up a big shot and just blows it by Markstrom, short side. Bad goal, 2-0. The play was started by a great takeaway and simple pass by Skjei.
9. Sloppy PK work bailed out by Lundqvist kept the score 2-0. He really was brilliant on the last save. Fast was hurt during the kill. I’m sure BDL was devastated by this news.
10. First PP of the second period, Zibanejad is passing the puck. Stop. You’re a shooter. You need to shoot. Second PP of the period, Zibanejad shoots from the Ovechkin position and Pirri buries the rebound, 3-0. See? Shoot the puck Mika, shoot the puck. He had also passed on a break down low in the first period.
11. After the Rangers’ third goal, the Canucks began to surge. Eventually, Henrik Sedin sets a perfect screen and Sutter fires it in, 3-1. Klein gets aggressive on the left side of the ice near the blue line, leaving Rick Nash to defend/clear Sedin. I’m just going to use this opportunity to say how awesome the Sedins are, and how unlucky we’ve been as fans in the east to see so little of them. They’re both great players. It’s sad to see them get old.
12. Third period, Fast takes the puck away, skates up ice, takes a bit of a dive while getting hooked, but gets the puck up to Hayes on a breakaway from the red line in. He makes a move and goes top shelf blocker side, 4-1. Beautiful goal. The horn went off for a second and confused my son to no end. The horn doesn’t go for the Rangers when they wear white.
13. Moments later, Skjei wins a board battle behind the net and pokes he puck through to Miller who makes a very dangerous pass, diagonally through the slot and a couple of Canucks, to Zuccarello. Zucarrello dumps and chases, and makes a perfect feed to Miller who buries it, 5-1. It ended well, but I’m certain that initial pass by Miller got him a talking to in the video room.
14. Grabner is slashed on a breakaway, no call. Nash passes the puck back to Klein for a shot and he breaks his stick. Klein busts it back to the bench for a new stick but the defense is out of sorts when the Canucks enter the zone. Klein ends up on the left boards, just as he was on the Canucks’ first goal. Holden tries to break up a centering feed for Granlund that would have been a slam dunk. The puck pops up into the air and Granlund connects with it while it is still airborne. Lundqvist gets a piece with his blocker, but not enough and the puck hits the crossbar and trickles across the line, 5-2.
15. The Rangers get an extended possession in the Vancouver zone that looked like a power play. Eventually the puck comes to Klein at the left point, who passes it to Holden at the bottom of the left circle, who sends a perfect pass across the goal to a wide open Zuccarello who buries it, 6-2. Another three points for Zuccarello, who is having another tremendous season. I know some of you suggest trading him for a defenseman, but it would have to be some defenseman to make me want to trade him.
16. For 6 goals, do we get an additional 50% off of Papa John’s pizza-flavored imitation pizza product? Still not enough of a discount for me to eat that, and I’m a big fat guy.
17. As mentioned at the top, Tryamakin slashes Grabner late in the third and the Rangers go to the PP. Pirri wins the face off cleanly to Klein, who sends it to Holden on the right point and Holden rips it through Markstrom, 7-2. Not a good goal for Markstrom, but all of the Canucks had thrown in the towel at that point.
18. Chaput is a portmanteau of chapeau and shampoo.
19. One of the big stories of the night was the debut of Boo Nieves. He was fine. Didn’t do anything great or terrible. Showed decent speed. Didn’t finish a couple of his checks. I wonder if he can fight.
20. Holden is much better on the left side. He was quite poor on the right, in my opinion. Was nice to see him rewarded with a PP goal. He still isn’t great, but he can play third pair if he stays on the left.
21. Brady Skjei is really good. He moves the puck so well. His skating completely eliminated a Sedin possession in the third period. He made lots of good subtle plays and passes. He will score soon. Hayes gave up the chance at the hat trick in the last minute to try and feed it to him.
22. McDonagh and Girardi have both been good at choosing when to pinch in the offensive zone. Very effective of keeping possession in the offensive zone.
23. Daily Nash-O-Meter: All those goals and none for Nash. I actually thought he was pretty good. Showed good burst and excellent work on taking a few bad passes without breaking stride.
24. Miller and Hayes have been tremendous this season. They were on separate lines in this game and they were both still tremendous. Aren’t you glad that they weren’t traded?
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Henrik Lundqvist
2. Kevin Hayes
3. Brady Skjei
Your Three Rangers Stars:
1. Kevin Hayes
2. JT Miller
3. Henrik Lundqvist