No, this whole article isn’t just about Adam Fox, but it for sure could be. The reigning Norris Trophy winner has been all over the ice for the Rangers so far this season and this week wasn’t any different. He appears on the stat sheet night in and night out, registering points in every game this week including two multi-point games.
In Vancouver on Tuesday night he secured his 100th career point in just his 135th NHL game played. He became the 22nd defenseman in NHL history, and third in Rangers history, to tally 100 points in 135 or less games. Try not to get too excited Rangers fans but 16 of those 22 defensemen are now in the hall of fame.
He made noise off the ice this week too, signing a seven-year contract extension that will keep him in New York through the 2028-29 season. It features a full No-Move clause in years four and five, a limited NMC in years six and seven, and an average annual value of $9.5million. No matter which way you slice it this is a steal for the New York Rangers. His AAV could’ve been $15 million per year and I’d still find a way to be happy with it.
Adam Fox, I’m sorry, the Rangers won two games this week and lost a third in overtime. There’s a lot to talk about so let’s get into it:
Game 8: Win vs Blue Jackets (4-0)
The Rangers played a full game Friday night. If their loss on Monday to the Flames was humiliating, this victory at the end of the week against the Blue Jackets felt like the exact opposite result.
Igor Shesterkin guided this team to victory with a 31-save shutout, his first of the season, while the Rangers’ offense outputted at an impressive level. In a sign of utter sportsmanship, class, and respect, the Columbues goaltender Elvis Merzlikins waved off his teammates in the last minute of play, asking them to preserve the shutout for Shesterkin before saluting him from the other end of the ice.
The stats alone can paint the picture, but Shesterkin passes every metric of the eye test. If he keeps up this level of play, we could hear him in contention for some awards at the end of the season.
The first goal of the game was scored by Ryan Strome a little over halfway into the first period. Artemi Panarin worked the puck to the boards just inside the blue line before hitting Strome with a pass in the center of the ice. Strome buried it from his position in the slot. Alexis Lafrenière scored the second of the game about three minutes later, creeping to the far side of the crease to bury a pass from Adam Fox.
Fox, who impresses with his ability to move the puck every time he touches it, skated behind the net and peeked to see Lafrenière trailing in alone. Nobody except for Fox and Lafrenière expected that pass.
The last two goals of the game were both Chris Kreider specials in the third period, tip-in goals on the powerplay. The first came a minute into the third while the second, the final goal of the game, came 11 minutes later.
Both goals featured Kreider tipping in from the same side of the crease, the first came off a pass from Panarin, the second off a pass from Fox. Both Fox and Panarin assisted on both of Chris Kreider’s goals and they each registered three assists on the night. Nils Lundkvist picked up an assist on the Strome goal, his first career NHL point.
Game 9: Win @ Seattle (3-1)
The Rangers traveled to Seattle for a game against the Kraken on Halloween. This is the first meeting between these two teams due to this being the first year of play for the expansion Kraken.
This was not a game the Rangers should’ve won. Seattle completely dominated them but Shesterkin carried the team to victory. When in doubt, lean on your stud goaltender and make the most of your few chances and you can steal victories in the NHL.
Shesterkin finished the game with 31 saves on 32 shots, and at times making acrobatic plays to stone the Seattle shooters. New York finished with only 18 shots on goal but managed to get two by the Kraken goaltender, Phillipp Grubauer, and added an empty netter at the end to seal it.
Chris Kreider scored the first goal of the game, continuing the blistering pace that he has set to start this season. However, while most of his goals tend to be from his net-front presence, this goal came off a wrist shot from near the faceoff circle in the first period.
Jordan Eberle tied the game in the second, whipping a beautiful backhand past Shesterkin for the only goal of the game by a Kraken player. Fox scored the game-winning goal 12 minutes into the third period, collecting a pass from Panarin near the blue line, slickly readjusting his stick position, and then sending home a wrister that went about the same place that Kreider’s shot did.
Barclay Goodrow deposited an empty netter with under two minutes to play in the third. The Rangers finished 0/2 on the powerplay but also successfully killed all four penalties they faced.
Game 10: Loss @ Vancouver (3-2, OT)
This game was shaping up to be one of the more magical contests of the week for the New York Rangers, that is until the Canucks woke up in the third period and poof absconded with the victory. Two goals in the third period, plus a heroic effort in net by Thatcher Demko, and a dagger of a goal by J.T. Miller in overtime later led to the Canucks skating away as victors.
If I had published this recap after the second period of play concluded it would have been titled ‘special teams gets it done for the Rangers’. I mean, seriously, the Rangers killed off six penalties in this game, five of which came prior to the second intermission. To add insult to injury, they converted twice on the powerplay in the second period, including a goal from Panarin that took all of three seconds of powerplay time.
The first goal of the game was scored by Mika Zibanejad two minutes into the second period, a tap-in to finish a crisscross passing play from Fox and Panarin. This sort of passing play has become trademark on the Rangers’ powerplay unit, specifically from these two players. This was the first powerplay goal of the year to be scored by anybody not named Chris Kreider, though it looked almost identical to a couple that he’s scored this year.
The second goal of the game was scored by Panarin, also on the powerplay, 13 minutes into the second period. Strome won the faceoff, Fox setup the shot, and Panarin benefitted from the puck deflecting off some Vancouver players on its way to the net. Again, that took only three seconds, after Vancouver had just spent six scoreless minutes on the powerplay. It was deflating for the Canucks.
The Canucks owned the third period and some of the overtime. They got two goals from Miller, a former Ranger. His first got the Canucks on the board a minute and a half into the third period, finishing a beautiful pass across the crease from Conor Garland. Garland was the man of the hour in the third period, as he was the most visible player on the ice and also supplied an assist on the game tying goal by Vasily Podkolzin. Podkolzin rifled a shot past Shesterkin off a clean setup by Garland from behind the goal line.
The Rangers had a chance to win the game late in the third when they had a two-man advantage but Demko stopped everything the shooting gallery sent his way, even making a save without a blocker on his right arm. The overtime period was back and forth, ultimately Miller got a breakaway opportunity and collected his own rebound, wrapping the puck around from the back of the net and in for the win.
This was almost another game stolen by Shesterkin. The young netminder made 34 saves in this game and seemed unbeatable up until the third period. Heck, even in the third period there was one Vancouver powerplay where Shesterkin was the best penalty killer on the ice. If he gets a little bit more offense from the guys in front of him then the Rangers definitely win this game. The Rangers only managed 25 shots on goal and the failure to convert on the powerplay late in third period was the killer.
Fan Sentiments and What to Look Forward to Next Week
Before I get too much further, I want to touch on some trends. First, hats off to the Rangers’ penalty killing units. The Rangers haven’t allowed a powerplay goal against since their game against Calgary, going a combined 13/13 on the penalty kill across the three games this week.
In that same three game stretch, they are a combined 4/10 on the powerplay. Special teams haven’t always been a strong point for the New York Rangers, fans know how rough the powerplay has been at times over the years, so this is very encouraging. It speaks volumes about this coaching staff’s ability to implement their systems quickly over the course of this young season.
The second trend I want to touch on is the faceoff percentage. The Rangers are one of the worst teams in the league so far this season in the faceoff circle. They won 48 percent of the faceoffs against the Canucks which actually is above average for this team. They sit at about 45 percent on the season, putting them 31st in the league. No player on the roster has a faceoff percentage higher than 50. It hasn’t hurt them too badly yet but it won’t do good things for their possession numbers.
The last trend isn’t as concrete as the other two, but it’s something I want to keep an eye on regardless. The Rangers aren’t getting a consistent amount of offense at even strength. Eventually this powerplay, and Chris Kreider, will go cold. The Rangers will need to get some production at 5v5 for me to feel confident about their ability to play at this level for a full season.
Soul crushing losses at 12:30am EST aside, not a bad week for New York Rangers fan. Stud young defenseman extends for seven years, stud young goaltender looks like the second coming of Henrik Lundqvist, and the team overall performed pretty well this week, coming away with five of a possible six points. They now sit at 6-2-2 through 10 games played.
The team will play three games between now and the next edition of Rangers Reactions. They close out their west coast road trip with two games on Friday and Saturday in Edmonton and Calgary, respectfully, before returning to New York on Monday to face the red hot Florida Panthers.