Late last week, we learned that Mats Zuccarello would be the Rangers Ambassador for You Can Play. The You Can Play project is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting homophobia in sports. The Rangers will celebrate You Can Play during tomorrow night’s game against the Ducks.
The details of the event can be found here. A special table will be set up at Section 113/114 where fans can talk to a representative and learn more about the organization and their initiatives. There will also be an online auction, and 100% of the auction’s proceeds will benefit the You Can Play Project.
The Rangers managed to sneak away on Super Bowl Sunday with a win against the lowly Flames, but they made us sweat. Strong first and third periods sandwiched a poor second. A strong offensive performance was overshadowed by poor defense again. No gifs for this game, but bullet points are fun too!
- I missed the first period, but I saw the replays of the goals. The Rangers have this habit of getting in front of shots from the point that they should be avoiding, and not trying to block. Nick Holden was victimized on this one. He tried to get out of the way, but it still hit his hip and went by Hank.
- That said, Hank goofed on handling the puck before the shot by Dougie Hamilton. He tried to make a play and failed. Aside from that though, he was solid.
- Rick Nash cleaned up the garbage in front for his goal. He’s been a man on a mission this season. His contract is always going to be a polarizing topic of conversation, but he’s been great this season.
Rochester Americans 4, Hartford Wolf Pack 2
By Chris Kohler
Hartford, CT, February 4, 2017 – Justin Fontaine scored shorthanded for the Hartford Wolf Pack, and Philip McRae had a power-play goal, Saturday night at the XL Center, but Evan Rodrigues’ two scores led the Rochester Americans to a 4-2 victory.
The loss snapped a two-game Wolf Pack winning streak.
The Rangers are at home today in a Super Bowl LI kickoff pregame, taking on the Calgary Flames. The Flames are pretty bad, with limited scoring depth and bad goaltending. Outside of their top three blue liners, they are weak there as well. All in all, the Rangers are better than Calgary, so this makes for a solid trap game.
I checked with officials ahead of time, and they assured me that the pucks will be properly inflated for the game. That’s good, we don’t want any distractions and sidebar conversations during the game. It would take away from the on-ice product. Am I right?
Hartford Wolf Pack 4, Utica Comets 3
By Chris Kohler
The Comets got on the board first, after Hartford’s Chris Brown fired a shot that hit the post and rebounded into Utica possession. The Comets’ Andrey Pedan collected the puck and fired an outlet pass to Borna Rendulic, who took the puck the length of the ice and snuck it past Halverson at 3:33 of the first period.
The Twitterverse got a little excited yesterday, as rumors broke that the Rangers are heavily scouting the Kings. They had Doug Risebrough in Ontario to watch LA’s AHL squad, and are rumored to be checking out the NHL squad with regularity. I don’t know much about the source, but people I trust have vouched for him. So, take that as you will.
We know the Rangers want a right handed defenseman. From LA’s standpoint, they need cheap depth scoring. Outside of Kopitar, Gaborik, Toffoli, and Carter, they have very little in terms of skill, scoring, and speed. On paper, there’s a match to be made assuming salaries can sync up. Trying to figure out who LA is willing to part with is a little challenging though.
Earlier this week, the Rangers extended head coach Alain Vigneault’s contract another two years through the 2019-2020 season. The timing was a bit odd, as AV still had another full year on his initial deal and was fresh off a pretty embarrassing playoff defeat last season. But it’s tough to argue with AV’s success with the Rangers. He sports a 175-97-23, good for a .632 win percentage.
AV is a very smart coach. His systems on the ice generate solid offense. There’s a reason why he is as successful as he is. It’s not just dumb luck. But he is not a perfect coach. His flaws not only overshadow his successes, but follow him from team to team.
The Rangers and the Sabres traded tons of chances in the game, with both getting one past the strong goaltending in regulation. It was the story of goaltending, as Robin Lehner and Henrik Lundqvist put on a show, making save after save in a game that started slow and ended with the teams trading chances left and right. Lehner finished with 42 saves, and Hank finished with 36 saves.
The forwards were able to generate a good amount of chances, using their speed to burn by a very vulnerable Sabres defense. Unfortunately, the Sabres did the exact same thing to the Rangers. It’s actually kind of fun to watch. Both teams are built the same way, so watching them trade chances was a good time, even if the game started slow for the Rangers.
On to the goals:
After Tuesday night’s debacle against Columbus, the Rangers are back on the road to Buffalo tonight to take on the very potent Sabres. Buffalo is built a lot like the Rangers, with solid talent up front and a weak blue line. Buffalo has a habit of making the Rangers look bad lately, so this isn’t a push over game.
For the Rangers, they need to get back to basics on defense. It’s disturbing how bad they’ve been, and how often they allow high-danger shots on Henrik Lundqvist. Hank has looked human too, which is something we aren’t used to seeing. Perhaps if the high-danger chances subside, Hank will get back to his normal form? It’s a tall order.
Mats Zuccarello is showing that hockey is for everyone. He has been named the You Can Play Ambassador for the Rangers. The You Can Play project is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting homophobia in sports.
Per the Hockey is for Everyone calendar, the Rangers will participate in festivities on February 5th when they host the Calgary Flames, and on February 7th when they host the Anaheim Ducks. I’d like to see them on the calendar more, considering the city in which they play.
The NHL is doing a wonderful thing for equal rights and fighting hate. Kudos to Zucc for taking on a role in the effort.