Rangers Reactions Week 4: Ready the Trenches

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Rangers Reactions Week 4: Ready the Trenches

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Rangers Reactions Week 4: Ready the Trenches

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I’d like you to imagine a scene out of a war movie. You can pick any of them really, but imagine the protagonist hunkering down in a bunker with his squad mates waiting out a constant barrage of enemy artillery. Now instead of imagining an army platoon, imagine a hockey team dressed in blue, red, and white. And instead of mortar fire, imagine an incessant rain of hockey pucks. And it’s not any encampment these intrepid hockey players find themselves huddling behind, but rather the great big pads of Igor Shesterkin.

That’s what this week felt like, a non-stop wave of hockey pucks fired by opposing teams at both Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev. Somehow this team came away with three of a possible six points, sandwiching a brutal loss to the Flames with a narrow defeat to the Oilers and a narrow victory against the Panthers.

Emotions are all over the place surrounding this team but first, let’s get into the games:

Game 11: Loss @ Edmonton (6-5, OT)

To put a positive spin on the game, the Rangers hung with one of the most offensively gifted units in the league. To be realistic, there are some glaring negatives here too. The Rangers struggled to hold a lead and the backup goaltender, Georgiev, cannot be trusted in the same way as the starter, Igor Shesterkin.

Their ability to score goals was driven more by the suspect goaltending by the Oilers’ netminder, Mikko Koskinen, than by a consistent shooting effort. They generated only 25 shots compared to the 39 that Edmonton peppered Georgiev with. Most of their goals on the evening came on simple shooting efforts that arguably could have been stopped.

Filip Chytil drove the early offense for the Rangers. He secured their first lead of the game by collecting a loose puck off a blocked shot and sending a wrister home from the high slot about two minutes into the first period. Edmonton would tie it later in the first with a goal from Zach Hyman, who cleaned up a rebound.

Early in the second Chytil stole a pass at the Edmonton blue line and flipped the puck to Kevin Rooney for another goal. The Rangers extended the lead to 4-1 on a blistering wrist shot by Chris Kreider and redirected pass by Mika Zibanejad. Zibanejad was in the middle of the ice, and the target of the pass from Ryan Strome, but the puck found his skate instead of his stick. This powerplay goal would establish the largest lead of the night for New York.

The Oilers would storm back to tie it off of a goal by Tyson Barrie sandwiched between goals from Jesse Puljujarvi. Zibanejad would reclaim the lead with a wrist shot from the same spot that Kreider scored from earlier, and the Rangers would hold that one-goal lead for ten minutes.

Connor McDavid is the best player in the world, that’s no question, and his goal to tie the game at 5-5 was just further evidence of the validity of that claim. He grabbed the puck at the blue line while the Rangers were awkwardly trying to change and quickly wove his way through four skaters before undressing Georgiev. It will be a highlight shared for months to come.

Leon Draisaitl scored the overtime winner when he found himself alone with the puck far too close to the Rangers net. His wrister completed the collapse of the blueshirts.

Game 12: Loss @ Calgary (6-0)

This was just an all-out, no-holds-barred, ugly loss for the New York Rangers. This loss could be expected for a young team at the end of a west coast trip, especially playing the night after a marathon of a game against the Oilers. The Flames are as good a team as any in the league and their explosive offense has now lit up the Rangers for a combined 11 goals over two games played this season. The Flames rode a shutout from Jacob Markstrom and a six-goal onslaught against Shesterkin to victory in this contest.

The Flames got goals from Sean Monahan, Brad Richardson, Johnny Gaudreau, Milan Lucic, and Matthew Tkachuk. Gaudreau had two on the day. Tkachuk’s, the sixth and final goal, was a cheeky between-the-legs flip. The Rangers were once again sorely outshot, posting 22 shots on goal compared to 37 by the Flames. There really isn’t much to talk about here, though attention will be paid to Filip Chytil who exited the ice with an injury after a collision with Sammy Blais early in the first.

Game 13: Win vs Panthers (4-3)

This is obviously the high point of the week, not only ending it with a victory but handing the Florida Panthers their first regulation loss of the season. That being said, it could have been a dark, dark finish.

This team has struggled mightily in the third period this season and that trend continued here. After two periods the Rangers were up by four goals but allowed three in the third to make this game much closer than it needed to be. They barely squeaked by with this victory, and with the way momentum had shifted had the game gone into overtime, they probably don’t come away victorious.

That being said, this game had a lot of fun elements for the Rangers. There was a Chris Kreider powerplay goal, an Adam Fox shorthanded goal, and a Ryan Strome goal at 4-on-4. Kreider stuffed home a rebound to start the scoring in the first and Adam Fox slotted home a backhand effort in the last ten seconds of the period.

K’Andre Miller made it 3-0 more than halfway through the second, providing the Panthers with a free power skating lesson as he blitzed down the boards before cutting across the middle of the ice to pop the puck into the net. Seriously, one of the nicest goals out of a Rangers player so far this season. It was a dynamite, highlight-reel worthy, coast-to-coast effort by Miller to secure his first of the season.

But again, without fail, the wheels started to fall off in the third. The Panthers got one back within the first minute of the third period, getting a goal from Eetu Luostarinen. They cut the lead to one with two goals in the last 1:30 of the game, getting goals from Sam Reinhart and Maxim Mamin.

The Rangers needed a superhuman effort from Shesterkin to sneak away with this one. He stopped 42 of the 45 shots he faced. The Rangers managed only a paltry 18 shots on goal, but managed to sneak four goals by Spencer Knight. The Rangers were 1/2 on the powerplay and were successful on both their penalty killing efforts.

Fan Sentiments and What to Look Forward to Next Week:

Alright, I’ll say it. This team’s play has been concerning. The 5v5 offense is basically nonexistent at times, and the team struggles to support their goaltenders. Through three games this week they were outshot 121 to 65. I’m sure I don’t have to explain how it won’t take long for that sort of margin to become problematic.

We have seen in years past with the Rangers that an elite goaltender can’t steal every game, and eventually, a cohesive offensive and defensive effort is needed to sustain winning efforts from game to game and week to week.

I will continue to keep everything in context, as this is the third-youngest team in the league, and some weeks that will be more glaringly obvious than others. A west coast road trip will surely bring out lower energy efforts at the tail end of the trip compared to the beginning. We are seeing that this team has some real promise at important positions and some elite athletes at a few.

The Rangers get four days of rest and practice to right the ship before starting a grueling schedule of six games in nine days. Between now and next week’s article there will be three games played. On Saturday they travel to Columbus to play the Blue Jackets, then Sunday and Tuesday they return to Madison Square Garden to host the New Jersey Devils and the Montreal Canadiens. They can beat all three of those teams and I’d love to report back in a week’s time with three victories in hand.

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