Rangers Reactions Week 1 – Doubleheader Against the Isles (1-1)
I want to start this piece by welcoming all Rangers fans and TWSN readers to a new weekly segment I am starting, Rangers Reactions. In these weekly reports I intend to cover any game action, player and personnel movement, and fan sentiments in a concise package.
Game 1: Loss vs Islanders: 0-4
The opening night of the season was spoiled by poor defense and discipline. Igor Shestyorkin let up three early goals, but had he not found his form late in the game this final score could’ve easily been 10-0. The Rangers spent a good portion of the night man down, giving up eight powerplays and allowing two goals. This kept the team from building any real flow, wearing down the special teams players while keeping everybody else on the bench. Number one overall pick Alexis Lafrenière only managed one shot in his NHL debut. Also making his NHL debut was defenseman K’Andre Miller, a rookie out of Wisconsin who looks to be a key piece on the blueline going forward. Jack Johnson made his Rangers debut and could not have played more disappointing. The team came out flat, and lack of energy in the first game of the season can really only point to the coaching staff. The future is certainly bright, but they need David Quinn to get these guys ready to go every night.
Game 2: Win vs Islanders: 5-0
Saturday night was all about the Russians. Alexandar Georgiev got the start, showing the Rangers’ commitment to his splitting time with Shestyorkin, and delivered a shutout performance. Pavel Buchnevich and Artemi Panarin each put up two goals, with Buchnevich showing off his blistering shot. Kaapo Kakko got his first of the season, helping rebound the team to a 1-1 start to the season.
If the first game of the year was all about the Rangers killing penalties, this game was all about their power plays. The blueshirts had eight powerplays, but could only convert on one of them, a Panarin one-timer off an Adam Fox tip pass to put the Rangers up 5-0. Miller was impressive in his second game, Fox was paired with Johnson which allowed an improvement in JJ’s play from Thursday night, and all the rest of the defensemen helped Georgiev pitch a shut-out.
In this game we saw a budding comradery forming between Panarin and Lafrenière, and we heard Kakko release a guttural scream following his goal; both are promising signs that the highly touted draft picks of the last two years are enjoying their time on broadway. This solid victory also illustrated that David Quinn’s system can work and that his coaching abilities may transcend just player development.
Fan Sentiments and What to Look Forward to Next Week
Feelings were mixed coming into this season, as there wasn’t much belief that this team could really make any noise this year. Stuffed into the tough MassMutual East division, youth across the lineup, and the first season without King Henrik Lundqvist in the locker room left many fans doubtful of the immediate success we would see. Expectations fell even lower following the opening night loss, but Saturday’s solid victory has restored faith and excitement surrounding this franchise. There are still fans that question whether Quinn will be able to lead this team to a cup eventually, but as of now he seems like a great fit to continue developing the young guys that we have. I would like to see him have a little bit longer of a leash with these guys, and good god does the powerplay need some help, but overall, it feels like this team gelled well over training camp and should be expected to compete with the rest of this division night in and night out. The Rangers host the Devils on Tuesday before traveling to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins on Friday and Sunday.