The Rangers had to wait for the Stanley Cup banner to be raised in Chicago last night before hitting the ice. But once it was up, New York came out flying. It was an exciting, energy-laden first period, where had it not been for the outstanding goaltending of the Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford, the Rangers might have had 4 or 5 goals. But, alas, New York was facing a recent Stanley Cup winning team, one that makes adjustments. After the adjustments, the Rangers became a team that relied on the world class goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers took away the win last night, 3-2, but after the first period, it was all Chicago.
First the good news. In all, eight different Rangers posted a point in last night’s contest. None of the forwards had ice time close to 20 minutes, ie, AV rolled four lines all night. The Blueshirts have won their last three games in Chicago (going back to January 8, 2014). And several players made notable contributions.
Of course, Lundqvist was the key (stopping 32 of 34 shots and just getting barraged in the third period). But other notable performances (whether their names were on the scoresheet or not) were had from:
Oscar Lindberg–just in his second NHL game, he centered the third line, scored the first goal and won six of the nine faceoffs he faced.
JT Miller–Was a part of the first two goals. Got very little ice time, but made the most of it with two assists, three hits and a + 2 rating. As I have been saying for weeks, Miller could be a huge part of the team’s offense, but he is just not the the head coach’s guy. The two have completely different personalities and styles, but at some point, it will hurt the team if Miller’s potential contribution is not recognized and he is not given more ice time to do his own thing.
Chris Kreider–Used his incredible speed to create several scoring chances. He did not finish last night, but Kreider is a star in the making.
Kevin Hayes–who looked much better last night than he has in training camp, tallied an assist and won all five faceoffs he took (after starting the game on the wing).
Kevin Klein–not only did he nail a one timer for the second goal of the game, but he recorded 5 hits last night.
Now the bad. The Rangers were unable to adjust to the change in the Blackhawk’s style of play after the first period. Chicago shut down the middle of the ice and got aggressive to stop the Rangers’ first pass. The Rangers did not make the necessary changes, turning over the puck in the middle of the ice and trying passes in lines that were shut. In addition, New York was terrible on face offs late in the game, and gave Chicago constant possession. Plus don’t get me started on the defensive breakdowns that led to Chicago scoring chances/goals.
The Rangers almost lost this one. And, in fact, were lucky that a Chicago goal was waived off. It was only the King that pulled it out for them.
On the very bright side, it looks like the Rangers have the talent to score goals this season. Lindberg should be able to contribute and Miller is gaining confidence, which should add to the scoresheet on a regular basis. Mats Zuccarello looks healthy (although he and Derrick Brassard did not show any of their combined magic last night, it will come), and Rick Nash had a beauty close in that was stopped by Crawford.
It is a long season. And one game does not a season make, but there are plenty of signs that the Rangers will once again go far into the playoffs and maybe the next time that there is a Stanley Cup banner to be raised it will be in Madison Square Garden.