NY Sports Day

The Rangers did not look like a playoff contender last night in their 3-2 shootout win over Colorado. But, despite looking a bit disorganized at times, the team got the two points anyway. The players have bought into Head Coach David Quinn’s system and slowly but surely is changing its style of play. One of last night’s goals was to put more pucks on net, and this they did (a total of 43 shots, including during OT). And once again, Henrik Lundqvist was spectacular in net, as the Av’s best players, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon, buzzed all over the ice. Landeskog and MacKinnon, with linemate Mikko Rantanen, released 10 shots on goal, but were only able to post four points among them. Much of that was Lundqvist, who again pretty much stood on his head making plays.

This was the second game this week that the Rangers essentially neutralized very offensively talented players. On Saturday, the opposing star was Connor McDavid, who was limited to two shots on net (he posted one goal and an assist). Last night, the threat was the Avs’ first line. Yes, it is Lundqvist that has been fantastic, but the last two games the defense has also improved. Gone is the more passive D. Relentlessly pursuing the puck and keeping the opponents o shots from along the boards is part of Head Coach David Quinn’s mantra.

For the most part, we are seeing this. The execution is not perfect, by any means. But it has been easier for Henrik to stop the puck when it is not coming from the slot. The defense still needs quite a bit of work, as Brendan Smith, who has looked like he is rebounded from a terrible 2017-18 season, just had a horrible night against Colorado.  And Kevin Shattenkirk, who scored the winning SO goal and registered two assists last evening, was scary in his own zone. Lets be honest and admit that the horses just are not there yet on the blueline. There are several prospects in the will hopefully address some of the current weaknesses in coming years, but for now, the defense will be an adventure. It was last night and will be in the immediate future.

But the team is playing much closer to what Quinn is looking for. Take the puck to the net, be difficult to play against when the opposition has the puck, and finish your checks. The forwards for the most part are not used to that sort of game, but every game we see that they play this way more and more. It makes for exciting hockey—last night the fans were on their feet and yelling for most of the last 25 minutes of the game.

This type of game is exciting for everyone. And despite the Rangers being in a rebuilding mode, there has been a great atmosphere in the building this week. This team can win on any given night, which brings me to the Caps and tonight’s game. Washington, the team the Rangers face tonight, play a very different game than Colorado or Edmonton, a tougher game, which will require a different type of response. Coach Quinn refused to say last night at his post-game presser who the goalie will be against the Caps, but it will take a King Henrik-type performance to defeat the Caps.  

New York Rangers