The third edition of this weekly New York Rangers series follows a tumultuous seven days that featured some soaring highs and quite a few plummeting lows. We got Alexis Lafreniêre’s first career NHL goal, an overtime winner no less, and we also got a couple more demoralizing one goal losses. Tony DeAngelo was placed on waivers to cap it all off, and the team spent their first week of many playing without an injured Filip Chytil. I guess we’ll just get right into it.
Game 4: Loss @ Buffalo (3-2)
The score might suggest that the Rangers were in this one, but they really weren’t. Even when they were up by a goal in the first intermission it still didn’t feel like they were in it. This team frequently shows that it is unable to generate consistent offense over all three periods of hockey. Both Rangers goals were scored in the first period, and the team didn’t ever seem to coherently threaten the Sabres’ net until the end of the third once the goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev, had been pulled for an extra skater. The team was completely overwhelmed in the faceoff circle, only winning 30 percent.
If there were to be any positives taken from this game, it would be Pavel Buchnevich and K’Andre Miller. Buchnevich continues to make plays, this time setting up Kreider from behind the net for the first goal of the game. Buch has been looking happy and dedicated, and the Rangers finally seem to be getting the best out of the talented Russian winger. Miller got his first career NHL goal with a bomb from the point to give the Rangers the lead with seven seconds to go in the first period. It caromed in off some Buffalo traffic in front of the cage and even Miller himself seemed surprised it went in. He has looked strong so far in his rookie season, playing well in both zones and making smart decisions with the puck. It’s nice to see him rewarded with a goal on the scoresheet.
Game 5: Win @ Buffalo (3-2, OT)
As a fan, this game left me with a massive smile on my face. There were so many positive developments in this game. Artemi Panarin showed why he is an 11+ million-dollar winger. He slid a gorgeous puck across the crease in the first period that Ryan Strome tapped in to start the scoring. Panarin then scored himself in the second period, his third of the season, burying a rebound from down low. Buchnevich was again involved, getting an assist on Strome’s goal. Colin Blackwell got an assist for the third game in a row, feeding the puck to Lafreniêre in overtime. He has shown superb value as a depth player who can elevate his game and generate scoring chances, earning his way into the hearts of fans fairly quickly.
The most exciting element of this game was the number one overall man himself Alexis Lafreniêre getting his first career NHL goal. Lafreniêre had looked tentative for the first few games this season but in this contest, it was really obvious that he was hungry for a goal. He seemed to relish every opportunity to score, sending pucks to the net that he might’ve usually passed. Blackwell started the play in the neutral zone by taking the puck from Jack Eichel and entering the offensive zone in a 2-on-1 situation. All Lafreniêre had to do was tap in the pass that eventually came across the slot. This moment felt amazing and the excitement for his career can only grow.
Game 6: Loss vs Penguins (5-4, OT)
This loss stung. It hit like a bag of bricks, to be quite honest. On Friday night this Rangers team came out to play. They delivered four goals over two periods yet could not get it done in the end. They surrendered a goal in the third and then another in overtime, illustrating yet again that this team is unable to score in the third period and cannot be trusted with a lead. Georgiev should shoulder a good portion of the responsibility for this loss. He let in a few soft goals tonight and had a miscommunication with defensemen Tony DeAngelo that kept the exhausted unit of DeAngelo, Zibanejad, and Panarin on the ice leading up to the eventual OT winner by Sidney Crosby.
That being said, the offense delivered in this one. The 4th line created a goal, with Brendan Lemiuex burying a rebound off of a Phillip Di Giuseppe shot. PDG has been another impressive depth player so far this season. The Rangers also got a shorthanded goal when K’Andre Miller and Kevin Rooney found themselves in a 2-on-0 situation. A slick give and go resulted in a Rooney goal, his first of the season. Miller’s second assist of the game came on Chris Kreider’s second period goal. Panarin connected on a one-time blast, scoring on the powerplay off a pass from Buchnevich. The connection that has grown between these two players is going to be important for years to come.
The overtime period started with a couple quick chances by Fox and Panarin that could not be converted. The next two minutes were spent in the Rangers’ defensive zone, leaving Panarin, Zibanejad, and DeAngelo on the ice for over two minutes. By the time Crosby scored the winner the three of them could barely move. During that same period of time the Penguins were able to change skaters three times. Georgiev couldn’t hold onto rebounds to force a faceoff, the players couldn’t clear the puck, and a miscommunication between Georgiev and DeAngelo started the play that turned into Crosby’s goal. The Rangers get a chance on Monday to redeem themselves.
Fan Sentiments and What to Look Forward to Next Week
Let’s talk personnel. On Sunday the Rangers practiced without Jack Johnson, who has been out all week with a lower body injury, and Colin Blackwell, who sustained an upper body injury during the loss to Pittsburgh and will be out for 7-10 days. Filip Chytil is still set to be out 6-8 weeks. The Rangers also practiced on Sunday without Tony DeAngelo, who was put on waivers, and Georgiev, who was listed as “maintenance”.
If you somehow missed the development today, yes, Tony DeAngelo, the defenseman who posted 53 points last season, was put on waivers. The rumor circulating is that there was an altercation between DeAngelo and Georgiev immediately following the overtime period. Somehow during this altercation DeAngelo was punched, although there is much speculation about who. It’s hard to distinguish what is rumor versus what is fact, and sharing any twitter content about the subject before the team confirms anything or footage is released would be shoddy journalism. DeAngelo is trending on Twitter and I strongly urge any Rangers fans to go give it a peek and see for themselves.
DeAngelo has always been known as problem in the locker room. While it would seem ridiculous to cut bait on a guy who put up 53 points last year, it speaks volumes about the public relations nightmare that he is. He has been suspended multiple times for abuse of officials over his junior and professional career. He was suspended by his team in the OHL, the Sarnia Sting, for making an inappropriate comment towards a teammate. It’s been known around the league that he uses racial slurs in the locker room and has some toxic political views. He is a staunch supporter of former president Donald Trump, and was vocal about his belief that the most recent US election was rigged. He recently made a stink in the media by announcing his exit from all social media, deleting his accounts, and joining Parler immediately following the Capitol Insurrection on January 6th.
The Rangers exhibited a lot of patience with DeAngelo, but this was clearly the straw that broke the camel’s back. I wouldn’t be surprised if his poor defensive play this year made him even more expendable. Regardless, I’m not too sure that any NHL team is going to take a flier on this kid, and I’m expecting him to clear waivers. We will know soon enough what really happened, and where DeAngelo’s career will go next. I expect the team to come out on Monday with some fire beneath them and have a statement game against Pittsburgh. They have Washington at home on Thursday and then head to Newark on Saturday to face the Devils.