The Rangers rallied late to tie the Kings on Monday before winning the game 3-2 in a shootout. Barclay Goodrow netted the equalizer before Alexis Lafreniere kept the team alive in the shootout and Adam Fox potted the game-winner, Igor Shesterkin won his fifth straight contest at MSG, stopping 34 shots. New York is off until taking on Columbus on the road Thursday and home for the Wild on Henrik Lundqvist night.
A few thoughts:
: With Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko sidelined, the Rangers opened the game with the big boy line. Barclay Goodrow moved up as well with Morgan Barron dressing as the third line center. In addition, Gerard Gallant hinted that morning that he had a "banged up" defenseman, guess it was Patrick Nemeth, who sat for Libor Hajek. In addition, that may be a reason why he is going with 12 forwards and six d-men and not the 11/7 he mentioned as a possibility.
The above alignment lasted the first period and then the blender came out. Panarin resumed his normal role on the second line with Strome with Goodrow remaining with that duo. Alexas Lafrenière, Dryden Hunt and Julien Gauthier all took turns playing next to Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, all with mainly middling success.
2) Style of play
: The Kings played exactly as they did in LA and as we thought. They clogged up the neutral zone pob of carrying play, but were thwarted by Jonathan Quick,reventing New York from either skating cleanly or mainly from passing the puck through the zone. When the Rangers dumped the puck in, LA was able to counter effectively, though only largely in the first period.
LA outshot New York 11-3 in the first, but most of the shots were not from high danger spots. In the second and third stanza, the Blueshirts did a much better job of carrying play, but were thwarted by Jonathan Quick, reminiscent of Game 4 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. But the Rangers last night were able to find a way.
. Last night's game was another contest in which the Rangers rallied for a win. As Vince Mercogliano noted, "after overcoming multi-goal deficits in wins over the Maple Leafs and Coyotes in the past week, there was little reason to think they couldn't come back from being down by one to the Kings late in the third period on Monday."
The difference was this win reminded me of games under John Tortorella when they were the never say die or can't rule them out of game Rangers. Willing to do whatever it took to pick up the victory. Physical play, solid goaltending, timely goals, all were components of that era. Yesterday again, New York tightened their bootstraps, received big saves from Igor and got a goal from Goodrow with 5:45 remaining for their fourth come-from-behind win in the last five games and 14th this season.
4) Adam Fox
- what can't Superman do? Show tremendous patience with the puck as the clock ticks down at the end of the first period and then find Kreider on the doorstep for the goal? Check. Have the ability to subtly defend in your own zone and find a way to get the puck out of harm's way without being blasted? Check. Convert on your first shootout attempt of the year and win the game with a hellacious move and backhard score. Check.
Fox deferred participating in the shootout until last night when pretty much no one was left. Now, as seen from what Gallant said, he will have no choice. Figure he is top-3 with Zib and Panarin.
"I think he should be one of our top shooters," Gallant said. "He doesn't love to do it a lot, but I think after tonight's goal he's going to get a lot of confidence from it. He's got skill, he’s got talent and he made an incredible move. I talked to him earlier in the year about going. He said, ‘No, I don't feel comfortable going.’ But I think that's going to change now."
- another rough game. One or two good sequences, especially on his dish to Jacob Trouba who was robbed by Quick, but overall, not noticeable enough. As Mercogliano noted, "the 20-year-old was eventually demoted to the fourth line and was called for a late boarding penalty. He was limited to just three shifts and 1:37 time on ice in the third period and did not play in overtime, totaling only 9:59 for the game."
His one saving grace was the shootout goal, which hopefully will provide him some boost of confidence. That goal did come with some shade. Laf seemed to remind the Kings that he was taken first overall following the goal, which came after Quinton Byfield, selected second, scored just prior in the shootout
: New York has been getting by with solid special teams and elite goaltending. Their even strength numbers leave a lot to be desired to say the least. Monday was no different, both in terms of goals scored and shots on net, each of which were below what they have produced this season.
The Rangers entered Monday's game averaging 2.24 goals scored per 60 minutes at five-on-five (20th in the NHL) and 26.09 shots per 60 (29th) with a 2.23 xGA/60 (27th). with their only even-strength goal coming from Goodrow. In addition, of the Rangers' 30 shots on goal, only 12 came at 5v5. They also only produced 14 scoring chances, of which just four were considered high-danger by Natural Stat Trick
Part of this was not helped by the losses of Kakko and Chytil, though unsure either would have made that much of a difference. As we have discussed, if New York and GM Chris Drury are to make a move, a top-nine forward who can drive play at even strength has to be the priority. I don't expect any move immediately, but the needed target is fairly clear.
7) From reading the blog comments, I guess some on twitter were taking Chris Kreider
to task, noting his performance is solely power play driven. Yes, he is benefitting from his phenomenal ability to deflect pucks and be a net front presence. But he is far from the first player who has taken advantage of strong man-advantage play, but to presume that is all he brings is a major fallacy.
Of Kreider's career-high 3o games, half have been scored on the power play. But he also has 13 goals at 5x5 on a team, as noted above, at even strength. Plus, he has notched his first two goals while shorthanded. His placement on the penalty kill is further evidence of the growth in his game. Kreider might just be becoming Rick Nash 2.0, a player formerly known as a scorer, albeit not at the level of Nash, but who has morphed into a 200-foot player and leader on and off the ice.
As we approach the Henrik Lundqvist retirement ceremony
, enjoy this video by AJ Castigliaa: