During their just completed five game home stand, the Rangers had a couple of impressive wins, took some lumps, brought back some young talent from the minors, and showed signs of a young team that has a bright future.
The Rangers completed the home stand last night with a solid 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. There are very few nights when a coach (in any sport) will shower his team with effusive praise, but David Quinn had reason to smile. “We were certainly more engaged, we embraced the battle instead of avoiding it,” Quinn said after the game.
The Rangers trailed 1-0 but tied the game in the second period on a power play goal from 18- year old Kappo Kakko, his second of the season. In the third, the Rangers scored three goals to secure a well earned victory.
20-year old Filip Chytil, who was brought back from Hartford and looked like a different player, made a beautiful play with his stick to re-direct the puck past Lightning goaltender Andrew Vasilevskiy and give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. “His (Chytil) battle level was so much higher, he was on the right side of the play, there wasn’t much cheating in his game, if any at all,” Quinn said, “I thought, probably had his best NHL game.”
21-year old defenseman Adam Fox scored his first NHL goal and played a terrific two-way game against some tough competition. “We’re not playing the ‘sisters of the poor’ either, we’re playing the Lightning,” Quinn said, “his [Fox] poise really continues to impress me, night in and night out.”
Right before the goal, Fox prevented Lightning C Brayden Point from deflecting a shot from the point. Fortunately for the Rangers, the puck hit the post. 21-year old defenseman Ryan Lindgren picked it up and found Chris Kreider streaking up the right side. Kreider had Pavel Buchnevich on his left, but he went towards the net with a shot that rebounded right to Fox, who had trailed the play. Fox put it in the net for his first NHL goal and a 3-1 lead. “I saw Kreids [Kreider] kinda beat the d-man, just followin’ up, saw the rebound come to me, just tried to hit the net, fortunately, it went in,” Fox said after the game.
Alexandar Georgiev was solid in net as he stopped 29 of 30 Lightning shots, including a couple from point blank range.
Quinn called for some more toughness from his team and he got that in the opening minutes of the first period as Rangers’ center Michael Haley got into an altercation with Tampa Bay’s Patrick Maroon. The 5’8” Haley got the best of the scrap when he landed a right hook on the side of Maroon’s head. The 6’3” left wing left the game with what was described as an “upper body injury.”
The home stand began with a 3-2 loss to Vancouver, followed by a 3-2, overtime loss to Arizona. The Rangers rebounded for a solid, 6-2 over the Buffalo Sabres, who share first place with the Bruins in the Atlantic Division. Those same Bruins embarrassed the Rangers in a 7-4 loss Sunday night.
It’s been a long time since the Rangers have had this much young talent on their roster. They will continue to go through the ups and downs of learning how to be play on the NHL level, but the Rangers are getting better. Now comes the more difficult task of a developing young team and that is learning to be consistent.