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Beat rolls on for Blueshirts in win over the Devils, face Penguins today

March 7, 2021, 11:06 AM ET [579 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers won their third in a row, defeating the Devils 6-3 on Saturday. With the victory, New York is over .500, at 10-9-3 for the season. The Bluehsirts are four points behind Pittsburgh, with a game in hand, and Philliy, who have played one less game than New York, in the battle for fourth place in the Mass Mutual Metro Division standings.

A few thoughts, and thanks to those who carried the blog this week, as I had some family issues to manage and moved my older daughter one back to college:

1) Filip Chytil's return lengthening the lineup. Even without Artemi Panarin and with a struggling Mika Zibanejad, the offense is humming. The uptick began before Chytil and Kaapo Kakko, who returned yesterday, came back, but you see the skill level and confidence growing game by game. If he can learn to take draws, the sky could be the limit.

2) Ryan Strome as the #1 center. We all have railed on Strome, many believing he was the weakest link. Look at what he has done with Panarin sidelined - 11 points last eight games - and how he and Chris Kreider are meshing. Hate him all you want. but he has been a highly productive 2C and all but assumed the role as first line center with Zib still slumping.

3) Kreider leading on and off the ice. Not just the scoring but the attitude. If there was a question as to who should wear the C, his recent leadership indicates that the answer is clear.

4) Julien Gauthier imposed his will on yesterday's game. I loved reading after the game all the hand-wringing and criticism of coach David Quinn for sitting him, until news of the X-Rays came out. Gauthier is earning his ice time and does need to be rewarded for his improved play.

5) Zib blew a tire at the end of the game and looked to be favoring his ankle. First, unsure how he got crossed up and fell, not looking too good on his skates, which has been an issue much of the season. We keep hoping that he will turn around his game and any positive sign is trumpeted. But those have been few and far between,

6) Adam Fox, Leetch-esque. Fox wanted out of Calgary and Carolina to play for his hometown team. The picks New York surrendered look like a pauper's pay to get their #1 defenseman.

7) Libor Hajek - when he uses his skating ability and plays physical, you can see why GM Jeff Gorton wanted him. I don't think Hajek will ever be more than a third-pair defenseman, but if he can be a very solid 5/6 d-man, value exists there.

8) Improved defense and penalty kill - the latter is a surprise, maybe even more than the former. The penalty kill - successful in 47 of the last 50 shorthanded opportunities - has benefitted from coach Jacques Martin's system, which calls for more aggressive play and also seen rotating in new faces. K'Andre Miller has made a huge difference, even if he has seen his play go up-and-down recently, paired first with Jacob Trouba, and now, Brendan Smith.

9) Alexandar Georgiev - the news that Igor Shesterkin's groin strain is less severe than first thought is a positive. Classifying him day-to-day is nice, but no guarantee he misses only a handful of games. New York needs to be smart and make sure he is truly 100% before playing him. As such, the burden falls to Georgiev, backed by Keith Kinkaid.

Georgiev made some key saves yesterday, but the first and third goals were weak. He needs to be better, especially if the team is to remain in striking distance. But he has shown he can carry the load for at least a little bit, which is what will need to be the case.

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