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Rangers right the ship, dominate Minnesota in 4-1 win

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

There is one stat, aside from the final score, that speaks volumes in this game. The Rangers forced the Minnesota Wild into 18 turnovers. This is just one game after the Rangers committed 16 turnovers against the Islanders, so they got the message. Of course, it took about ten minutes into the first period for them to get that message.

The Rangers forced turnovers by pressuring the puck on the forecheck, something we had seen against Calgary and Pittsburgh earlier last week. They didn’t have many defensive miscues, although one did lead to the lone Wild goal. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a much-needed win.

On to the goals:

Wild 1, Rangers 0

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Both Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider blew the coverage from the opening face off, giving Ryan Suter all day to walk down the far boards looking for a play. That play came when John Moore was unable to completely tie up Jason Pominville in front. Suter made a perfect pass, hitting Pominville’s tape for the point-blank goal.

Rangers 1, Wild 1

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Brassard, Brad Richards, Mats Zuccarello all made great plays to fend off all four Minnesota penalty killers at the near boards and maintain possession on the powerplay. Brass was able to get the puck across to the weak side point man in Ryan McDonagh. None of the four Wild players were able to recover in time to cover Benoit Pouliot down low, and McDonagh just hit him with a perfect pass for the tip in. Very quietly, Pouliot has been one of the better Ranger skaters over the past five games or so.

Rangers 2, Wild 1

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McDonagh was able to find Brian Boyle right out of the penalty box for the zone entry. Derek Dorsett and Carl Hagelin joined him on the rush with four Wild players back. Dorsett eventually attempted a cross-ice pass to Hagelin, but it was off target. Keith Ballard was able to poke the puck away, but he poked it right to Hagelin, who beat Niklas Backstrom.

Rangers 3, Wild 1

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Brassard had a very strong game here, and this goal was all him. He made a very nice end-to-end rush, circled behind the net, and fed Zuccarello in the slot for the goal. Zucc was wide open in front, finding open ice between four Wild defenders. I guess his small stature made him difficult for Minnesota to locate on the ice?

Rangers 4, Wild 1

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Rick Nash forced a neutral zone turnover, and Chris Kreider simply used his speed to burn past the defense for the chance. Kreider’s hands were whacked a bit as he was shooting, which led to him fanning on the shot. Backstrom simply botched the change of pace and the puck slid right through his legs.

Fenwick Chart:

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

As expected, the chart shows the exact flow of the game. The Rangers struggled for the first ten minutes of the first, and Minnesota really controlled play. After that, the ice tilted in New York’s favor and that blue line just kept rising. There were a lot of stretches in the second and third periods where the red line was flat (no shot attempts) for an extended period of time. By the end of the game, the Rangers had a 61.2% Fenwick (missed shots+SOG) advantage.

You may look at the standings, see Minnesota out of the playoffs, and think that this was a win against a bad team. But let’s remember that if Minnesota was in the Metropolitan Division, they would be in second place. This was a solid team win against a strong team. It was the first time where we saw all 12 forwards and all 6 defensemen play solid games. The baby steps made against Calgary and Pittsburgh –and the turnover fest against the Islanders– culminated in this very strong performance. This is a win they can build on.

39 Responses to “Rangers right the ship, dominate Minnesota in 4-1 win”

  1. @Centerman21 says:

    It was a very nice win for this team. They allowed the first goal again for the 4th time in a row. Yet this time there was no 2-0 deficit. The Rangers were hard on the puck all night and they didn’t panic when Wild players attacked along the boards. I just hope they can follow that up against a Toronto team that may make the Rangers look slow. My opinion of why they won is because the 4th line has taken games over. Now if Nash can get going his linemates will be better and this will be a team. Like you said. “Baby Steps”. I expect a big second half.
    Ryan O’Reilly signed an offer sheet from Fester in Calgary early last March or late February. Could the Rangers have interest in him come March? Thoughts guys.

    • Dave says:

      Toronto has been regressing to the mean, and crashing to Earth hard.

      • Becky says:

        They were decent against Detroit on Saturday but have definite flaws. If the Rangers play like they did last night, Toronto is definitely beatable.

  2. @Centerman21 says:

    The Rangers inconsistency all season is a concern but if this current team can continue to improve on a game like Minnie last night. I think they only need a mobile defenseman with a shot from the point. Maybe one big checking line player that can pop in a rebound in the crease. Any idea guys when Beach will play with the Rangers? He sounds like a perfect 4th Line player. Not just a fighter but can score 10-15 goals.
    Anyway I think the Rangers should talk to Gillis and see if Torts wants Girardi back with him. Maybe we can get Edler or Bieksa who’s a righty for Del Zotto. DZ has looked better of late. This could be the start. We need Nash to play better. He was skating last night.

  3. SalMerc says:

    We cannot go from a game like the Islanders to this game and think we have righted the ship. Show me 3 more games where we battle for 60 minutes, and I will start believing again.

    Is it me or has Talbot been making the big saves early that Hank hasn’t been, with the same defense.

    • Hatrick Swatze says:

      Part of the problem is support each of these goalies get. When Talbot is in net the Rangers average 2.45 goals per game vs 2.22 when Hank is in net. That may not seem like much, but this year that is the difference between being 21st and 28th in the league.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Agreed. Good game – best one in quite some time – but after this subpar run, I need to see some consistency to start feeling better about this team. It could be the start of something better, but just like we can’t get too down when they have a bad game (or 3), we can’t get too high when they follow up a disaster (Islanders) with a quality game. Consistency = wins.

  4. Bloomer says:

    This team can put together a solid performance when they all play as a unit. Everyone has to contribute and when Pouliot is actually using his big frame to win pucks, he makes a difference out there. I am not in the trade this guy or move that guy camp. This squad is relatedly young and just need some good coaching and leadership. If they start moving people it will disrupt any chance of building back a team identity and chemistry. Just have to stick it out and hope that their leaders (the man in goal tonight) bring it against Toronto.

    • The Suit says:

      Id start Talbot

      • Dave says:

        How soon til they stop fronting with Hank in net?

        • The Suit says:

          I don’t think they will. I think they’ll start fronting for Talbot more based on matchup.

          • Dave says:

            Interesting. They seem to play a lot better in front of Talbot, less defensive mistakes. Figure they would adjust their play in front of Hank.

      • Chris F says:

        Suit,

        You really think they’ll give Talbot back-to-back starts on consecutive nights?

        I know it’s a show of confidence in his ability, but do you think it has any negative impact on Hank’s?

        • SalMerc says:

          Do we worry about Hank’s psyche or winning games?

          • Walt says:

            Sal

            At this stage of the game, we need wins, and if his psyche gets damaged, let Hank see a shrink!!

            • The Suit says:

              We need wins. Plenty of hockey left for Hank. He’s a big boy. He can warm the bench for a little bit.

            • SalMerc says:

              Ever since Hank went to that Victoria’s Secret show, he hasn’t been the same.

              • The Suit says:

                haha…

                I think it’s because he doesn’t have 5 teammates collapsing around him anymore. He’s back to Renney era numbers. Meanwhile Luongo’s save % has gone up this season. Gotta give credit where it’s due.

            • BenM says:

              The only way the Rangers make a deep playoff run is with Hank playing his best. So yes, we care about Hank’s psyche.

          • Chris F says:

            Hank’s psyche and winning are not exclusive from one another.

            The Rangers need a confident Lundqvist to make any sort of splash this year… or any other for that matter. I completely understand going with who gives you the best shot at winning on any given night. Last night, that was Talbot. Tonight, I’d say hand the reins back to Hank. The guy overthinks enough as it is, you don’t want to damage his confidence any more than necessary. Talbot will not take this team to the promised land any time soon. He’s been stellar, for sure, but Hank is still the #1. I’d like to see Talbot start more … he hasn’t played for awhile before last night. But starting him on consecutive nights is risky, in my opinion.

  5. Walt says:

    All I can say is, “it’s about time” !!

    Let’s see if these so called baby steps, can lead to walking, then jogging, then out right full speed run!

  6. BobM says:

    If I were AV, I would threaten the players that unless they start playing better, they will be trade bait for Vancouver. I agree with SalMerc, one game does not right the ship. All it did was prevent more flooding before the ship sinks (stinks) altogether.

    After all, we are 3-5-2 in the last 10.

    Living in Floriduh, I have the NHL Center Ice as my only option to watch other than when they play the Panthers. You cannot believe how biased the other play by play guys are. They were gushing how great the Wild were in the first 10 minutes but never praised the Rangers and their tone of voice actually got lower when they scored. This happens in every game that I watch when Sam and Joe are not the feed. For some reason, Center Ice prefers not to show the Ranger’s feed but when they do, they omit the commercials which they don’t do with the other team’s commercials and play really annoying music instead.

    • Gary says:

      BobM, I feel your pain. Aside from having to listen to the Bruins announcers pour acid in my ears when the B’s play the Rangers, I get Center Ice as well.

      It sucks being subject to the other team’s announcers 90% of the time. I mean, the Buffalo guy is just flat out funny. The guys last night actually didn’t bother me. They did go on about how important Cally, Stepan and MacD are to the US Olympic team.

      But some of these other clowns, my god it makes me wonder if CI is worth it sometimes. The Penguin guys are absolutely the worst. Erry is pure pain and the other guy with his “Geno this and Geno that…”

      Anyway, good game by the Rangers last night. Why on earth do they seem to have some much more discipline in front of Talbot than they do in front of Lundquist?

  7. Becky says:

    BUT POULIOT IS THE WORST. BENCH HIM. TRAID HIM FOR A BAG OF PUCKS.

    • Walt says:

      you mean trade him???????

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      That’s a pretty unfair bit of sarcasm. He really has been one of the worst skaters this season. He’s had a nice run here, but let’s just enjoy it now, since we can be pretty sure it won’t last.

      • Becky says:

        Think he’s just hit his stride. If this were a different skater (like Stepan, for example) we would be saying we’ve been waiting for this instead of “wow we should love it while it lasts” …

        • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

          Well the difference here is Pouliot does not have a history of consitency. What we’re seeing is the player he is. There’s a reason he’s played with 5 teams in his short career.

          • Becky says:

            Well alright Rangers Fan in Boston, I suppose I can’t argue with you there. I’m still fired up by all the people who were upset he scored against the Caps cause it meant he wouldn’t be benched the next game.

  8. SalMerc says:

    We have 20 skaters but only 10 with hearts

  9. Kevin says:

    That’s what? 3 in 4 games now for Pouliot with points in 5 or 6? Looks like he’s starting to simplify his game a bit, good to see. Also, has anyone talked about how much better Stepan has gotten in the defensive game? Seems like he is a much more well rounded player this year

  10. Tiki Tim says:

    Let’s not forget that Minny plays in the better and deeper WC. Not a bad team at all.

  11. paulronty says:

    Ok, Pouliot is doing what he is supposed to do–SCORE!! I love the Norwegian Hobbit–the boy can play, he do the walk of life. Tonight the hated Make Believes. I was born in Toronto & I hate them the most. Rangers have to wqin this game or I’ll be depressed for a week.