New York kept the beat rolling against New Jersey. Jacob Trouba tallied 47 seconds into the contest, joined by Ryan Lindgren, who notched his first marker in 98 games since Nov. 10, 2019, by scoring from the slot at 6:39 of the period. A third tally, the first of two by Artemi Panarin, came a little over five minutes later and that was all she wrote.
The Rangers — 6-1-2 in the last nine — have two more this weekend against the Devils after winning the first two of the four-game set. Despite the victory, there is still a four-point gap to the Bruins, who beat the Islanders - thanks a lot, guys - 4-1 on Thursday. New York has 13 games to go while Boson has 15 contests remaining on the schedule.
a few thoughts:
1) Igor Shesterkin
became the first Rangers rookie netminder to register consecutive shutouts since Lorne Chabot in the franchise’s inaugural 1926-27 season. Faced only three shots in the first and four in the third, but was big when needed in the second, when the Devils made a push. Should be in net again Saturday, and if New York wins, as I expect a much better effort from New Jersey, does coach David Quinn go with him or Alexandar Georgiev on Sunday>
2) The Breadman delivers.
It's not just the two goals, the ability to go from 0 to 60 to create space, then stop on a dime and blast home a one-time, but his comments after the game. Panarin recognized that after an almost perfect first period, the team was far from good in the second, pointing this out in his post-game comments.
“Obviously, it’s nice to dominate a game, but it was not ideal,” said No. 10, whose left-wing drive off a pinpoint cross-ice, two-on-one feed from Ryan Strome lifted his team to its early 3-0 lead. “We have some details to work on and [improvement] for some very serious games coming up.
“I would say, fewer turnovers at the blue line. In general, obviously, this game was fun to play, but I’m probably in the front row of those giveaways, so I realize that. We have to tighten that up, play a little better defensively very seriously.”
All six d-men have recorded a goal over the last six games. The blue line generating offense has aided in the team's recent hot streak. New York is 3-0-1 in their past four and 11-4-3 in their past 18 partially due to the defense. As Larry Brooks highlighted, the even-strength goals from Trouba and Lindgren represented the club’s 11th and 12th from defensemen over the last 23 games. The blue liners had combined for three even-strength goals over the first 20 contests.
Brooks summed up the impact Trouba has had lately. But it hasn't just been on the ice, but off. It's the meeting in between the second and third period Tuesday. Taking K'Andre Miller and now Zac Jones under his wing to aid in their transition to the NHL. On the ice, the breakout passes, matchups against the opponent's top line and physical play have all been evident, especially lately.
There has been a slight shift in the dynamics of the back end the last week or so, as the Trouba-K’Andre Miller pair has been given an equal share of the responsibility with the Lindgren-Adam Fox tandem, whose play had dipped a bit.
Maybe Lindgren has been banged up or somewhat fatigued. Maybe Fox had become somewhat seduced by points. But there has been a leveling off from the two sophomores. In the meantime, though, Trouba has played his best hockey as a Ranger, elevating as he did late last year.
Indeed, after Fox had led the team in ice time in 34 of the first 39 games (one of which he missed), Trouba has paced the club in three of the last four matches, including this 23:44.
“He brings to the table a lot of things that we don’t have,” Quinn said of Trouba. “This guy is a throwback in a lot of ways to his approach to playing the game.
“The thing that’s underrated about him is his puck skill — I think he makes a great outlet pass — and he plays hard and creates a mentality in our locker room. He means an awful lot to us on and off the ice. People talk about the leadership role he has embraced this year, but I certainly like what’s going on, on the ice, as well.”
for all the criticism lobbed at him, some of his moves have worked out. Colin Blackwell has seamlessly fit on the Panarin-Ryan Strome line, adding a career-best three assists last night. Vitali Kravtsov is flying, scoring his first NHL goal, which then came off the books due a successful challenge by Devils' coach, Lindy Ruff - boo - due to a slight hesitation at the blue line by Pavel Buchnevich. Your peers are your best advocates or biggest critics, look at what Strome said:
Strome on Kravtsov: “Quinny’s done a good job of mixing guys in. You never want to throw him out too, too much. It’s such a tough situation, coming over from Russia. But Quinny’s been giving him more and more of an opportunity and a chance to play with some of the top lines, and he’s done really well. I think, even on the line he’s been on with (Kevin Rooney and Brett Howden), I think he’s been really good there. They’ve been having some great games, some offensive chances.
“He’s super confident with the puck. He makes really high-skilled plays but not really high risk, which I think a young player tends to do in this league — which is force it a little bit, and certainly what I went through. I think he’s done a really good job of taking what he sees in front of him and making the smart-but-skilled play. He’s certainly fit in really nicely. It’s been a really nice addition. He’s done everything he’s been asked to do. He plays hard, he’s smart out there, he’s very responsible and obviously, it’s very encouraging to have a guy like that step in and be able to help us at this crucial time.”
Two wins down, two to go. Then the stretch run really begins. Isles on road, back-to-back home contests versus Philly. Two home games against Buffalo. a home-and-home against the Isles. Two home games against the Caps and then two huge ones on the road to close the season against the Bruins. Keep winning and put the pressure on Boston to do the same.