(graph via Extra Skater)
The Rangers and Panthers came into this matchup trending in opposite directions. The Panthers had just fired its entire coaching staff as a result of the team's ongoing eight game losing streak. The Rangers, despite a slow start to the season, had won six of the last eight games. The game was perhaps a bit more difficult than the Rangers would have wanted. The Panthers led the game 30 minutes in and the second period ended tied at two. Nonetheless, the Rangers held on to win against a team that should be beat. As the Fenwick graph shows above, the Rangers pulled away from the Panthers in the third period, with the score reflecting it, and the Panthers were forced to play catchup the rest of the way. A third period Brian Campbell goal plus a late powerplay opportunity made it a bit uncomfortable, but the Rangers held on to win the team's third straight. Keep reading for some of my observations and analysis.
Henrik Lundqvist: Yes, he let in three goals for the first time in six games. He still had a very strong game. One goal came off a fluke bounce that neither he nor the Rangers really deserved to have go against them, and he didn't have much of a chance on the other two goals. The Panthers pushed in spurts and the Rangers struggled at times to find their footing. Lundqvist stood tall and came up with some big saves, ultimately making 24 on 27 shots. He did struggle with some rebounds tonight and I don't think he would proclaim it his best performance, but he was still very good, and "very good" was enough for tonight.
JT MIller: A guy who is fighting to avoid a demotion to Hartford, Miller was possibly Wally Pipp'd and given a lifeline thanks to Taylor Pyatt's concussion. Miller had one of his best games of the season all-around and was rewarded with his first goal since February 7th against the Islanders, when he scored his first two career goals. His Fenwick Percentage was a solid enough 53.3%. Bonus points for trolling Tim Thomas and goading him into a retalitory penalty.
Chris Kreider: Another strong game for Kreider minus one qualifier, which we'll get to. Kreider made a phenomenal play in the neutral zone to cause a turnover and send the Rangers on the transition. Soon after, he received the puck on the offensive zone and showed tremendous poise when he kicked the puck to his skate and, instead of taking what was a decent shot opportunity, finding J.T. Miller for the opening goal. Kreider showed the confidence and initiative that he has since being called up. He threw three hits and played a good game in all zones. The trust that Head Coach Alain Vigneault has of Kreider reflects in Kreider leading all Rangers forwards in even strength minutes, with 16:36 of playing time. Kreider has registered at least one point in five of the last seven games and has eight through 10 games.
Now, for the one qualifier of what was mostly a good showing. With the Rangers leading by a goal late in the third period, Kreider took exception to Scottie Upshall getting physical with Derek Stepan and crosschecked him as Upshall skated to the bench; the puck nowhere in sight but an official right in front of him. Nice of Kreider to recognize Upshall taking shots at a teammate and wanting to stick up for him, but there's a time and a place. The dying minutes of a one-goal game is not the time or place. Luckily, for him and the team, the Panthers failed to make something of it. To his credit, he showed instant remorse as he skated out of the penalty box at the end of the game and Vigneault said during the postgame press conference that Kreider immediately apologized. Chalk it up to a learning experience, and one that is much better learned in November than in an important game late in the season.
Ryan McDonagh & Girardi: A good game from the top pairing. McDonagh was the other part of the Miller goal. He proved that secondary assists can sometimes be important to a play, taking the lose puck that Kreider jarred loose and eventually feeding it to him in the offensive zone. Though the two assists might indicate otherwise, Kris Versteeg didn't have much going for him tonight. McDonagh & Girardi were matched up against him all night. Girardi in particular was good on the penalty kill and made a big block during the Panthers' last gasp.
Brad Richards: A goal and assist to improve his team-leading point total to 15. The goal came off a good feed from Carl Hagelin and Richards sniped it into the top right corner. The assist was a feed to Mats Zuccarello after he comitted the Panthers' skaters to his side. Zuccarello hammered in the five-on-three goal to give the Rangers the 4-2 lead.
It's not just the points that are impressive, but the fact the circumstances of them. In the second period he shanked on a shot with a wide open net in front of him and was visibly frustrated. The Brad Richards of last season would have thought about it for the rest of the game and sulked around the ice pitying himself. Instead, Richards gave the Rangers the lead early in the third and put in his positive contribution for the game, earning the first star. He also won eight of 11 faceoffs. Another good game from Richards, and with Nash out they need him to step up that much more.
Derek Dorsett: The game against the Blues, in which he took three separate penalties, was rock bottom for Dorsett and rightly drew the ire of many fans. He's put together some decent games since, though, with tonight his best. I've said in the past that Dorsett could play a similar role to the one Brandon Prust cultivated for himself, and tonight Dorsett put in that kind of performance. He banged in a goal that will get no points for artistry but plenty for effort and timeliness. He forced the puck to the front of the net and kept banging away until it finally beat Thomas and put the Rangers level with the Panthers in the second half of the second period. Lundqvist pointed out postgame that it was a big confidence boost for the Rangers. Aside from that, took three shots, blocked one, threw three hits, was credited with three takeaways, and drew a hooking penalty.
Brian Boyle: An assist on the Dorsett goal, and he was a 60% Fenwick at even strength despite 45.5% of his starts in the defensive zone and only 9.1% in the offensive zone. He was 7-for-11 in the faceoff dot. The underappreciated shutdown center had another solid game.
For all the histerics to start the season (and some of it deserved) the Rangers sit third in the Metropolitan (groan) Division. The Capitals, who are second, are one point ahead of the Rangers but have played one more game. The Penguins, who are first, are only four points ahead. The season is a marathon; not a sprint. Right now the Rangers are doing just fine in the marathon. They'll get a chance to keep the run going against the Devils on Tuesday.
Follow Me On Twitter: @Herman_NYRBlog
Outside our disagreement on Pyatt I am liking the way AV is using his players, of course being a fan that could change the next game.
He is rewarding deserving players like Dorsett and Boyle with ice. Sits a player like Pouliot who one can understand why teams wanted him on one play and than another play why they got rid of him but than comes back with the player instead of TORTuring players like what's his name did last year or keeping lines together and giving them chance or seeing some chemistry accidentally and rolling with it. Adjustments like breaking up MDZ and Moore last night. Good stuff.... .
Though Kevin, I would like to see him take a chance and give Mash a little more time
Stranger game, not at their best, but 2 points is 2 points. Don't look now, but they're only 4 points behind the Pens! They actually should have had 3 or 4 other goals but had bad puck luck all game.
As far as the Kreider hit...I thought this was hockey not tennis? Was it a penalty...sure, but only because the puck was not there. Screw the timing of it, it was totally worth risking a point to make one! But I absolutely LOVED the mean streak that Kreider showed. His center was under fire and he took care of business. I just hope his teammates congratulated him and didn't scold him for doing it because I would absolutely want to see him do it again and again. And it wasn't a cross-check, it was a 2 fisted shove to the chest. If he gets any sort of discipline for this then Shannahan should immediately renounce his HOF credentials as he is clearly more of a detriment to the NHL in his current role than he ever benefited the league as a player.
I wouldn't have cared if the Rangers lost by 10 so long as Kreider makes that hit. I only wish that the play had stopped so that he could've stayed on the ice immediately afterward and dropped the gloves with that prick.
And this "there is a time and a place" bullshit is exactly that. I can't stand it when people say that. The time and the place to stand up for yourself (or your teammate) is in the moment when you are called upon to do so. As soon as you say that two points are more valuable than defending a teammate you have then established that your priorities will NEVER be teammates first again. Believe me, if the team ALWAYS stood up for each other, no matter what the score, or how close the game, the benefits would strongly outweigh the negatives - even on the scoreboard.
To speak of "a time and a place" is insanely shortsighted. Imagine (especially on V-Day) if that sentiment was truly the one that carried the day.
Hey Kevin, I know you will make a recap of Krieders awesome, but illegal crosscheck.
Found the video !
Kreider's crosscheck was a good play. He was standing up for Step, shows these guys have some kind of chemistry going now.
not only are the rangers beating teams that are supposed to be beaten, they're beating the teams on losing streaks in where in the past, the rangers were good at getting other teams back on track. the team definitely has different character and are finding different ways to win and im just enjoying the hell out of it
not into the chart really but its interesting....GREAT POINT ABOUT RICHY BREAKING HIS STICK MAD AND THEN BURYING THE NEXT 1...his islander postgame attack was all part of this too, in all reality if it wasnt for captain america being on our team he would be the captain and leader
I didn't see the kreider crosscheck (if anyone can provide a video, please let me know), so it might not be fair for me to comment, but haven't we been talking and talking about how we need players to stand up for one another on this team? Yes, it might not be the right time to be doing it, and crosschecking isn't the way to be handling business, but at least he's sending a message to the guys on the other bench.
I have not seen Hank juggle the puck more in my life, the puck looked like it had butter on it --all that and still some solid saves and the win! I'll take that.
"The Brad Richards of last season would have thought about it for the rest of the game and sulked around the ice pitying himself." The reference to Richards hypothetically sulking last year is just silly to me. I'm not saying he wouldn't have or that he didn't, its just not something I understand sports fans speculating about. We are not in his head and to blame some of his poor play last year on the idea that a vet, who has been very successful on the ice both mentally and physically, suddenly started sulking seems so silly. We know he wasn't in the best hockey shape in the short season, so wouldn't his physical makeup, an aging vet, be more likely the cause of down play then a sudden mental lapse?
On Kreider's hit. I'm sorry I'm okay with it. Stepan takes so many ****ing cheapshots it's disgusting. Kreider destroying Upshall after that scrum is OK with me. Although that was BAD timing.
GG Boys. Every win can't be pretty. Sucks the streak ended here, but Florida is more talented than they get credit for.
@gravey94 Totally agree, I think he sent important message to his OWN team that their not going put up with anything at least when he is on the ice. Worth more than a win or a goal when building a team. The better this kid gets the more room he is going to need to afford himself and teammates.
That is the a thing i like about him and Miller, they play with edge, I don't think that they are dirty but with their skill sets they still both get in and mix it up. A nice direction to take the team
i'm with you 1000%
Couldn't agree more, especially since it was Stepan he was standing up for. After the head shots he has taken in the last week with no response I don't care what the situation is I love seeing someone on this team stand up for him.
crosscheck? i guess they had to call it something ...
@JoeNYR Post coming at 10am on Miller goal and the cross check.
@JoeAntos It's 7:30am and I just got home from a 14 hour shift at a bar and I'm dying to know how the game went down because I couldn't watch it. Good writeup but some video highlights or game AP photo gallery would be cool too.
@JoeAntos Give him a break, nothing wrong with a different perspective. I like it.
@dave56dj did you listen to richards postgames towards the end of the year last season?? ADAM is dead on, he questioned himself more then anyone last season. that was a big reason people were so quick to bury him because it seemed he gave up too. It was written all over him, he night and day to last year when he was absolutely "sulking"
@dave56dj i think torts was in his head last year and now that he doesnt have that little green monster on his shoulder everytime he makes a mistake or misses a shot, he is able to move on from it.
@dave56dj There's more than one context for "sulk." I don't mean that he didn't care. He was clearly not up to par physically, but he has even said himself that he wasn't in the right place mentally. Last season every bad break was shattering his confidence. This season he has a short memory. That's all there is to what I said.
@CareyBrandsdorfer I felt like I saw him lolligagging on a few shifts as well, Im gonna chalk it up to a bad eyeball test and assume I just saw a couple of plays at the end of shifts otherwise AV would have limited him.
@ivanricov @JoeAntos Appreciate you guys want me to do all the recaps, but getting a different perspective is always a good thing. Only so much sarcasm to go around. As far as videos go, they're not always available right after the game, so depending on when we write our recap will depend on if video is even available.