The Rangers needed 65+ minutes of hockey to down a pesky Leafs team that just wouldn’t go away last night. Jonathan Bernier played a phenomenal game for Toronto and was the reason why the Rangers didn’t blow this game wide open in the second period. Bernier made 41 saves, and a lot of them were on prime opportunities. Luckily Cam Talbot was up to the task as well, losing his shutout on a controversial goal.
One thing that really stuck out in this game was the play of J.T. Miller. The biggest thing we have harped on about his play is that he chases the puck and needs to learn to play in all three zones. Over the past few games since his call up, he seems to have put it all together. He played a great game last night, and his goal should have held up as the game winner.
On to the goals:
Rangers 1, Leafs 0
This goal was a product of a great shift by the Rangers, but particularly Chris Kreider for his great work down low and behind the net. He worked hard to keep the puck low, and eventually found Miller in the slot for the goal. Kreider did the dirty work, but Miller made a great read on the ice, finding the seam between all five Leafs skaters.
Leafs 1, Rangers 1
This was a weird goal (also, no picture because nothing came out right). David Clarkson tried to stuff the puck in from behind the net, but Talbot stopped it. It appeared that the puck was under his pad. The whistle was never blown because the ref was behind the net, and the Rangers appeared to be waiting and expecting the whistle. Nazem Kadri just came by and poked the puck into the net. Bad non-whistle on this goal, but once the on-ice call was a goal, there was no way to overturn it.
The Rangers absolutely dominated this game. Look at the spike in the second period, and it just kept going up as the game progressed. The MSG broadcast mentioned how the ice was tilted in the Rangers direction in the second period, and this chart shows it. But let’s also remember that the Leafs are one of the worst possession teams in the league. Only Buffalo is worse, and this is why most #fancystats folks are predicting an epic fall from grace for the Leafs. They are actually in the middle of it right now.
This is now the second game in row where the Rangers dominated the opposition (> 60% FF%) en route to a win. They have played four of five strong games (the Islanders debacle is that fifth game), and taken seven of ten points in those five games. With three winnable games coming up, the Rangers can still salvage an above-.500 December. Hopefully they don’t lose this momentum during the three-day holiday break.