Dec
06

Rangers right the ship, need to build on strong win in Buffalo

December 6, 2013, by
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

The Rangers came into Buffalo not only in need of a win, but in need of a win where they dominated the opposition. They did both last night, taking control of the Sabres in a 3-1 win. Henrik Lundqvist was stellar, and the Rangers scored at even strength and on the powerplay for a nicely balanced scoring attack. New York dominated puck possession, and was finally able to convert on scoring chances. Sure it was Buffalo, but confidence building has to start somewhere.

Speaking of Hank, what a game he played. He wasn’t tested often, but he had a lot of difficult saves to make, including three acrobatic saves (one split on a breakaway, one glove save, and one diving blocker save). He was surely on his game last night.

As for special teams, the Rangers PK is still phenomenal, and the PP continues to convert and generate solid chances.

On to the goals:

Rangers 1, Sabres 0

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If that goal looked familiar, it should. That was a set breakout play that the Rangers perfected last year under John Tortorella. In that play, the defenseman (Ryan McDonagh) hits the center at center ice, who touch-passes the puck to the winger on the boards (Rick Nash). Nash collected the puck and just blew by Tyler Myers before schooling Ryan Miller for the goal. The arrows above show the path of the puck and the path of Nash as he cut to the net.

Rangers 2, Sabres 0

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I say this a lot, but the Rangers really do move the puck well on the powerplay. This time around, Mats Zuccarello collected the puck at the point and fed Brassard at the off-wing face off dot. Brassard faked a shot so well that Miller actually bit on the shot. Brass fed Brad Richards at the bad angle, who roofed it over a sliding Miller.

Rangers 3, Sabres 0

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There wasn’t really a defensive breakdown by the Sabres here. McDonagh hit Richards at center ice, who hit Zuccarello for the zone entry. Zuccarello used his speed to split three defenders, and found a hole under Miller’s glove for the goal.

Sabres 1, Rangers 3

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The Sabres spoiled the shutout after Zemgus Girgensons batted down Lundqvist’s outlet at the boards, which went right to Tyler Ennis. Ennis, now behind Anton Stralman, collected the puck on the doorstep and roofed it over Hank.

Fenwick Chart:

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

The Rangers had another game where they dominated puck possession as soon as the second period began. It’s been the norm for the Rangers, who usually need to weather the early storm before settling in and generating the majority of the scoring chances. New York let up a bit with a two goal lead, but took charge again once they made it a three goal lead. It’s actually interesting, because AV in Vancouver was notoriously passive once he had a lead, but with the Rangers he appears to be pressing even more (that’s a future post, stay tuned).

The Rangers really needed this win tonight. They let everyone down on Monday with their loss at home to Winnipeg, but beating Buffalo before a nine game home stretch is a very important win. Now this team comes home with a lot of confidence as they enter the most important stretch of the season. Nine home games in a row against mostly non-playoff teams means they need to start rattling off some W’s to put everyone’s worries aside. This team is better than they’ve been playing, they just need to put in that consistent effort. It begins tomorrow at The Garden.

Categories : Game Wrap-ups

24 comments

  1. Walt says:

    I’ll take the win, but let’s be honest, the game wasn’t the most exciting we’ve ever seen, rather dull!!

    Hay we got some puck luck last night. BR’s goal, and the angle, what the heck??? Nash, and Zucc’s goals were beauties, the little guy has been making me change my opinion of his play the last 6-7 games, or so.

    Hank lost his shut out, too bad, he should not try to handle the puck, he will never be the Pillsbury dough boy from NJ!!!

    We come home, and won’t go on the road until after Christmas, let’s rack up the points now boys.

  2. Jakki says:

    Since I’m norwegian I just want to throw out some stats on Zuccarello;

    Right now he’s on pace for 52,7 points this season. If you take away the first 8 games, he’s had 18 points in the last 21 games. Over a whole season that would be 70 points. If you take the first 8 games into consideration, and that he keeps up his current speed, he would end up on 63 points.

    If you look at Capgeeks Bargain Hunter, you can see that Zuccarello is 20th in the league in cap dollars per point. Pretty good stuff!

    The question now is; if he keeps this up, how much is he gonna get in the offseason? Let’s not forget he did the Rangers a huge favour this season by signing a “bad” contract.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      He didn’t do the Rangers any favors. That was his market value as an unproven, inconsistent, undersized NHL player. He’s doing what he should and earning his next contract.

      • Jakki says:

        If I’m not totally wrong he could’ve taken it to salary arbitration. He could easily have gotten 1,7 millions +. And he was actually one of the most consistent players when he came back last season, both in the regular season and especially in the playoffs.

        • Dave says:

          No, he couldn’t get $1.7 million. Minimal NHL experience and a lot of inconsistency. His strong March 2013 was the only good thing he had going.

          Personal feelings don’t get tossed around in arbitration meetings. Just facts. Objective analysis.

          • Jakki says:

            That number was not taken from personal feelings. Norwegian media at that time speculated in 2 millions. Larry Brooks wrote here; http://nypost.com/2013/06/23/jagrs-rep-has-taken-unprecedented-180-degree-turn/ about 1,5 millions over two years. I assume he means 1,5 million per, but if he actually means 750k a year then my bad. Brooks also states in a later post that Rangers had him valued around 1,25. I’m sure I can dig up more articles on this, but 1,7 millions was just the number I remembered from this summer.

            • Dave says:

              Unfortunately media is not in the business. They are writers. People who understand and can accurately read market value are the ones that make these decisions.

              I take media estimations with a grain of salt, and do my own comparables.

              • Jakki says:

                Before this gets out of hand; Apologies for writing that he could easily have gotten 1,7 millions. It was a number I remembered from the time the contract was signed, and having done some digging I wasn’t far off from what most people wrote at that time (which was in the 1,5 million range). This comment kind of took the focus away from my main point, which is Zuccas point production right now. Which is around decent(hope I’m not exaggerating now).

              • Dave says:

                I agree with you, if he continues at this pace he will hit $3m next year. Just stating my opinion that he didn’t deserve $1.7m last year because his play was too inconsistent.

        • Dave says:

          Don’t get me wrong, I love that he’s on the team, and he proved me wrong. But last season he was not a $1.7m player. This offseason I expect him to hit the $3m mark, if he continues this pace.

    • Walt says:

      He will get a raise, but don’t believe for a minute that he will break the bank of any team!!

      • Jakki says:

        He won’t break the bank of any team as he’s still RFA I believe. But he can easily triple his salary right now.

        • Walt says:

          Let’s see what happends the rest of the season before we get carried away. Like I said, he will get a raise, market value for his services, but won’t break any bank!!

          By the way, I like the little guy, plays with more heart than some of the bigger dudes on this team, the 2 usless P’s.

    • @Centerman21 says:

      How is that a bad contract? For his production last year I think he got paid accordingly. He may play himself out of NY if he keeps this up.

  3. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    Good win, but to be honest, not the most impressive one against the worst team in the league. I didn’t come away from this one thinking that they made any huge strides.

    Biggest stretch of games of the season coming up. The Rangers need to create some separation in these next 9 games, prove they’re a no doubt top 3 team in their division.

  4. SalMerc says:

    Beat the bad teams. Play hard and try to compete against the better teams, while striving to become a better team. 2 points yes, impressive win, no.

  5. Bloomer says:

    The Rangers played well enough to win, but still too many odd man rushes for my liking.

    Max Pacioretty with a brutal from behind hit on Johnny Boychuk last night. This has got to be a suspension as Pacioretty did the similar thing to Ryan Mcdonough and got away unpunished. There is no place in hockey for those kinds of hits and I am not buying the no malice argument. The man is out of control and needs some games off.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      It was a borderline suspendable hit. To me, it did not look malicious, but it was a dangerous hit nonetheless. I do think Boychuk’s reaction made it look a lot worse than it was. The slewfooting Subban gets away with more.

  6. Chris F says:

    I did not see this as a dominating win at all. While it was great to see the boys slip some nice goals past Miller, a very good goalie, I thought their overall play was uninspiring. They were hemmed in their own zone for stretches and Hank had to make far too many difficult saves. A better team than Buffalo quite possibly beats NY last night. Not a sign of turning a corner.

    • Dave says:

      Dominating puck possession does not necessarily mean they dominated the game. It’s a very fine line there.

      I saw a bit of a lazy team in the first, and some stretches in the third where they sat back. Other than that, they looked good.

  7. Kevin says:

    I mentioned this during the game on twitter, but the Rangers should definitely put Zuccarello back on the top PP unit. Stepan’s decision making is just too slow to be as effective on that top unit

  8. @Centerman21 says:

    This is a fun team to watch. The PK has been shutting down the opposition each game and PP is getting better with every attempt. Last night they looked loose on it and that makes it dangerous. If they can get a little more from the defense. Man this could be a good team. I just hope its a new guy each night stepping up but all play hard night in and night out. Hank hits stride now and NYR have yet to play their best games.