“If you gotta play at Garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck.” That line from the 1972 Ricky Nelson song is applicable to what’s been happening on the Garden ice lately.
The Rangers are making it very difficult for opponents to play at MSG. Last night, the Blueshirts scored one of their most impressive wins of the season as they blanked the Islanders 5-0. Alexander Georgiev made 29 saves for his first career shutout and the surprising Rangers won for the ninth time in their last 11 (9-1-1) games.
The win ended an eight game losing streak to their arch rivals but it also extended the Rangers’ home winning streak to seven in a row. “Every game is two points, obviously they’re in our division. It’s a big two points,” said Kevin Hayes after the game.
It’s been awhile since the Rangers have been this successful at the Garden. After the game, I asked Hayes about the streak. “I think it’s just hard work,” Hayes said.
The 26-year old has been front and center to see the emergence of his 19-year old linemate, Filip Chytil. The first Rangers teenager to score in four straight games, made it five in a row last night, giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead just :29 seconds into the game.
During the home streak, the Rangers have outscored the opposition 26-10 and have played a solid brand of hockey under David Quinn. The Rangers have bought into this new head man and it’s paying dividends as the Blueshirts have been one of the early surprises of the 2018-2019 season.
The fans get caught up in the rivalry more than the players do, but the Rangers were getting tired of consistently losing to their arch rivals. Before last night’s game, the negative streak read 8 straight losses to the Islanders and 11 of 13. “When you lose to someone so often, eventually you’re gonna win one,” Quinn said after the game.
A little over three minutes after Chytil extended his goal scoring streak, Cody McLeod’s first goal of the season, on a deflection, made it 2-0. That score rung a bell for the Rangers, who got off to a fast start in Brooklyn last week with a 2-0 lead but ended up losing 7-5.
It wouldn’t happen this time. Neal Pionk, who continues to show he is capable of being a top-pair defenseman, scored on the power play to give the Rangers a 3-0 advantage. What was impressive was that the Rangers never let up and that’s on the new coach who is proving to be the right choice to guide this young team. “We defended much better on our net front, than we did last time we played ‘em,” Quinn said.
Late in the second period, Hayes went in, untouched, deked to his backhand and beat Islanders’ goalie Robin Lehner for a 4-0 lead. Chris Kreider added his team leading 12th goal in the third period to close out the scoring.
The Rangers have bought into what Quinn who continually stresses hard work and the dividends that result in the form of ice time. “He [Quinn[ demands hard work,” Hayes said. “Our leaders, our older guys in the room kinda harp on it, hold everyone accountable for it and if you’re not working hard, you don’t play.”
On the morning after the Rangers stuffed the Islanders, they find themselves tied for first place in the Metropolitan Division on Thanksgiving.
If you’re going to a “Garden Party” these days, “I wish you a lotta luck,” especially if you wear the road uniforms and not the “Broadway Blues,” or maybe you’d “rather drive a truck.”