It took only 40 measly games, but the Rangers FINALLY have a 10+ goal scorer in Chris Kreider. So congrats if you had Kreider leading the team in goals halfway through the season in your office pool.
Zucc (1g, 2a) was easily the best forward on the ice once again. His 3 points tonight pushes him to the team lead in assists and points with 19 and 28 respectively. The Lightning defense let him literally skate circles across the defensive zone allowing Zuccarello to find the open man for quality chances.
Lundqvist looked pretty good considering his extended time off and didn't show any signs of rust early on. None of the 3 Lightning goals were his fault, but rather to some poor defense in front of him. Hank rose to the occasion in the third period with some vintage net-minding and the Lightning controlling play for a long time before scoring on Flippula's re-direct.
Thankfully the Rangers power play came to play tonight otherwise this game wouldn't have been much of a contest with the team struggling defensively. Zucc's goal tied the game at 2 from below the goal line that deflected off of Gudas' skate and behind Lindback.
Zucc found Kreider who had just come off the bench to make it 3-2. Kreider's combo of size and speed were no match for Hedman and Gudas and CK deposited a backhander behind Lindback.
Pouliot's point streak continued to 7 games with his game winner just after Zucc's tally that took the lead for good. Pouliot found himself alone at the top of the crease and finished off a tic-tac-toe sequence with Brassard and Zuccarello. Pouliot now leads the team with 5 PPG's.
The Rangers were a defensive mess tonight and the absences of Staal and Stralman were on full display. Del Zotto in particular was caught way out of position on Tampa's first goal and failed to pick up a loose puck following a rebound on Tampa's second goal. Del Zotto and Girardi in another sequence later were both caught on the same side of the ice in the neutral zone allowing Martin St. Louis a mini-breakaway which Lundqvist stopped.
Conor Allen's first NHL game was an uneventful one. He does need to learn some of the positioning aspects in his defensive game, although he didn't make any obvious mistakes that could've led to a Lightning goal. Wouldn't mind him as a 7th defenseman but he could use a bit more seasoning in Hartford so he'll be ready in case all the Girardi and Del Zotto trade rumors come to pass.
Oh yea, Rick Nash scored a goal for the first time in nearly 3 weeks getting the Rangers on the board four and a half minutes into the first. Nash tapped in a nice feed from Stepan who stepped his game up tonight with Team USA scouts in the building.
** On a personal note, I want to wish Kevin, Adam, James and every reader of the NY Rangers Blog a safe, happy and healthy 2014.**
Follow me on twitter: @NYRblogneill
I hope AV was telling Step to shoot the freakin puck. He had a few 2 on 1s other than the Nash goal where he had no reason to be passing the puck
Signs of life from Nash and Hank, I guess that's good since the Rangers seem to be stuck with those 2 contracts.
I like the possibilities of a team future of Mcdonagh, Kreider, Miller, Zucc, and now Allen. I think they come with a great attitude to play and I hope the Ranger's organizational thinking doesn't fuck that up.
Speaking of coming to play, Zuccarella's consistent play every night has to be I think one of reasons they got out the funk and started skating. I mean if you are on this team and you watch this little guy mix it up, hitting much bigger guys playing fearlessly and hard every shift for minimum NHL wage you have to be embarrassed or inspired.
I am also glad AV finally noticed who could produce on the PP strange as it would seem.
Thankfully a decent effort by Hank to survive the onslaught. PP scores 3 times, and 2 good road periods are good enough for 2 pts. After 40 games, no one would have had Zucc as our leading scorer...give him credit, more so than how badly Richards, Stepan and yes...Mr. Nash have been given the amount of minutes and PP time they command. Wish they were signed to $1.1M contracts like Zucc...maybe they'd have more drive and ambition.
The teams top players looked hungry, engaged and aggressive. Glad to see that from Nash. I thought Allen looked really good- quick and decisive. Del Zotto is just not an NHL player, I'm sorry. It's not like he's gettin caught out of position because he pinches or rushed the puck deep- he just doesn't seem to understand the positioning. That's crazy. Good for Hank for a B+ game. Top of his game that's one goal against (shot over glove again, even the deflection, we are used to him making those saves). Good win
Slightly disagree on Allen. Thought he played real well for first game. Very composed with the puck. When Stralman or Stally come back would be nice to really limit delzotto minutes if not a healthy scratch
I liked Conor Allen's play. He seemed comfortable and confident with the puck, made high percentage decisions, and wasn't a liability (aka everything MDZ is lacking). I think he's got a better chance at being a mainstay with the team down the road than McIlrath, honesty. And I would dress him over Del Zotto in a heartbeat.
Hopefully his strong play, along with Staal progress over the past few weeks, allows Sather to expand his horizons when it comes to trading MDZ. I don't think a top-4 blue-liner was ever going to be realistic. If Stralman can bounce back relatively quickly, Falk and Allen could split duties as the 6/7 and we may not even need a defender in return for Del Zotto.
Zuccarello was a dominant player.He won the game for us.If he keeps playing like this he's better than Nash, Stepan Richards/He's even better than awesome Chris Krieder who was also a dominant player .He is spectacular, all the overinflated hype about the guy from Norway is suddenly believable.Sorry to gush but I'm taken aback at how good a player he is suddenly appearing to be.
Happy New Year Neill and NYRB peeps. Good Win!!! Uh ( cough cough)well at least it was a win against a pretty good club. LGR
Please give Stepan some faceoff lessons. What does he lack-hand speed,strength, both? Aside from the power play, Brassard looks awful. He must lift weights with Dorsett(not). A hairy win but I'll take it.
Where has Pyatt been? Aa healthy scratch for the last several games? Ive been on the dark side of the moon.
Second goal was on Hank... terrible rebound (others were unstoppable). As for Zucc... he looked a lot like a guy that played on the other side tonight (cough cough Marty St. Louis.... we could only hope he is half the player). Great game from him, and absolutely sick goal by Kreider.
Also Pouliot???? Hahaha unreal what he is doing especially on the PP
40 games for someone to hit 10 goals is pathetic, especially when the league leaders on each team are around 20+. PP is clicking, and Zucc is killing it. Pouliot is not so bad. Lundqvist won one, and Nash even scored.
We'll get Cally back soon, get everyone healthy... and hopefully have a better 2nd half.
Miller played well.he was involved and noticeable He took a penalty but it was in defence-he tripped St Louis as he was about to shoot point blank on goal
@teemuNYRnot bad for 1.15 million a year.Nash and Richards should take notice. Hope the Rangers will tear up Zucc's contract next year and give him what he deserve.
@teemuNYRJust imagine how the players in the Swedish Elite league felt when Zucc was making fools of them with his above average vision, technique and creativety, not to mention at the Norwegian top level which is on par with the Swedish 2nd level. They must have felt like "alright, that's it, I'm going back to carpentry full time, this hockey thing isn't gonna go anywhere"
@IcyCuphealthy scratch, where he belongs
@BrendyJohnson You're right we get Cally back, he'll play 6 games and will be hurt again. IMO.he is not a difference maker.The team will do fine with or without him.
not when he is a rookie and has only played in 33... it is more pathetic that Nash, Hagelin, Callahan, Stepan, etc... all have less than him
Good. Thanks. Its that several in a row for him? Im glad. No passion no effort in that big useless body.
Any idea? Wheres pyatt been? Last i heard sather was seen talking to him at his locker after practice like 1.5 weeks ago.
@mando24179Torts is gone because Torts did not want Gaborik.....did not want Richards and did not want Nash. Sather wanted them because of their Marquee big name value that fits with Dolan's vision of Himself. Same thing is going on with the Knicks under Dolan. Don't believe the N.Y. Hockey Media for a second for a second.
What do you think of The Rangers continually upgrading by moving Nash, Richards and possibly Step for BIG, FAST TOUGH 2-way 20 goal scorers who can contribute against teams who take away ice and play a strong defensive game (Boston, L.A.SJ, Anaheim, soon to be Vancouver, St. Louis, Chicago for example)
I know Sather will never do that but I believe that is the strategy for us to win the Cup.
@mando24179Richards may have shot his load but he still has more points than Stepan. And Stepan held out for more money.
Snake bitten cause Stepan isn't a consistent offensive force. .. Zuc is the key on that line. As he is on any line he is on
Richards shot his load the first 10 games.he has been horrible. And plays little to no defense I watched him yest jist stand in in the defensive zone. Not covering anyone and out of position....
Zuc has been the most consistent hard working forward.... next has be McD. Dorsett has even played harder than the skilled guys
Stop the love fest with Richards he should have been bought out before camp. Only reason he is here is because of Torts. And he was over paid to be here.
But u till need room or a threat. On that line. Gretzky had Kurt And Robi in la. So it opens up room and passing lanes... for nash to create and finish
I wouldn't be so quick to move Stepan, although I do think you could get something decent in return for him. The real problem is we're paying Richards to be out #1 center, but half the time he's a 3rd line winger. If the Rangers could either trade, or just sign in the offseason, an actual 1st line center, we could come into camp with Stepan on the 2nd (where he belongs) and Miller on the 3rd. That wouldn't be a bad depth chart.
The Kreider-step-Zucc line was great, but they got snake bitten and couldn't bury the biscuit. Kreids is young and does fade at times but that's where an energy linemate like Zucc helps with his consistency. I hope they get another chance together because they equal a very potent dou!!!
@mando24179Here's the deal with Kreider, Stepan and Nash.
Nash is like Gaborik, he doesn't need a play making centerman. They create their own scoring opportunities. Kreider needs a play making centerman. He has the speed and the shot but not so much the skill to create his own scoring chances. Stepan is an overrated #1 centerman. He disappears for long stretches st a time and when that happens, Kreider slumps and Nash is left on his own to become the lone scorer on that line. Therefore Nash gets double teamed.
I'd package Del Zaster with Stepan and see what kind of return it brings back. I really feel that Stepan, although a nice player, will never be a true #1 centerman in this league.
BTW, I wouldn't be surprised if he's left off of the Team USA Olympic roster.
Nash needs a #1center....&Stepan isn't that. .... He disappears for 10 games at a time. ...Nash winds up being the play maker not the finisher... Due to this