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Game 3: NJ 4 NYR 3, some thoughts following the loss

January 20, 2021, 9:26 PM ET [132 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers, despite 50 shots on MacKenzie Blackwood, fell 4-3 to New Jersey on Tuesday. Post-game, much of the focus was on the condition of Mika Zibanejad, who missed the end of the game after losing an edge and slamming into the boards. In addition, lots of chatter over consternation over coach David Quinn's playing pattern. Plus, in general, how much different and more confident does Jack Hughes, who scored twice, look this year?

A few quick thoughts:

1) Here is Zib losing an edge. Given how he looked after it happened, the first thought was that he suffered another concussion. Based on his history, the expectation was a potential long absence and comments were already being made that a long-term extension would not be a wise idea. Let's hold the horses on all that. Coach Quinn said after Wednesday that the hope was that Zib and Brendan Lemiuex, who missed today's practice as well for a maintenance day after blocking a pair of blasts from P.K. Subban in one shift, should be able to play Friday. Granted, nothing is set i stone but compare where we all were at about 9:30 on Tuesday to 2pm on Wednesday and it's night an day.

2) Playing pattern PDG-Chytil-Kakko were dominating action, yet didn't see copious playing time until the third period. At least Quinn on Wednesday recognized how well they played, which is why they saw more ice time in the third period. That's wonderful and good, but that change should have happened way quicker. Why are you playing Ryan Strome, who was doing little. Swap Artemi Panarin with Chris Kreider if you want to get him on the ice more and sit Strome. 

Vince Mercogliano noted that with all the lineup swapping today and with Mika due back Friday, "it does seem like Panarin-Strome-Buch could happen, but I'd expect Mika between Kreider and Laf. (Then Chytil with Kakko & PDG.)" Buchnevich would slide down and Laf, who didn't have a good game Tuesday and sat stretches of the third, moved up. Unsure I fully understand the rationale for this, other than to create another look and try to jumpstart Strome and Laf, but why bother creating chemistry, since that will be three different line combinations in four games.

3) On defense, Jacob Trouba did not have a good game, putting it mildly, neither did Jack Johnson. But Jacques Martin brought JJ in, giving him additional leash and leeway, as Martin seems to be dictating the defensive pairings. This is kind of in line with what expected, doesn't mean we have to like it.

The defensive pairings Wednesday featured Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox, reunited again, K'Andre Miller and Jacob Trouba, who played together in game one, and Jack Johnson and Tony DeAngelo, with Tony D back after sitting for a pair of games following his penalty against the Islanders. Anthony Bitetto, Libor Hájek and Brendan Smith also practiced with the NHL group and rotated in. If you want to be annoyed, question why Smith is sitting and not Johnson. Yes, I gave the reason above, but Smith has been more than solid after replacing ADA and did little to lose his spot in the lineup. He, and not Johnson, should be paired with ADA.

4) Morgan Barron and Matthew Roberston could be back this season, especially Barron, who struggled adapting in camp. Barron will benefit from first line ice time and playing in game action once the AHL starts play in early-February. Let him get his sea legs, and if he dominates, call him up and insert him in the lineup.

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