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Category: Game Wrap-ups

Ryan Malone’s redemption continues in shootout win

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Boy that was a fun game to watch, wasn’t it?

Ryan Malone is impressing a lot of people, myself included. We all know he was a solid 20 goal scorer, but after 11 goals over the past two seasons, he looked to be cooked. It’s still early, as Malone is still playing against some guys that will be in the AHL, but his two games have been, if anything, solid games. Let’s keep this part short, and get to the bullet points:

  • Let’s start with the kids that have made the team: J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast. These two have done nothing but impress.
  • Anthony Duclair, if not for the odd contract situation, would also be on that list. This kid has been unreal. He won’t continue his 30% shooting rate, but he does so many other things the right way. If it was just offense and a 30% shooting rate, I’d say send him back. But the kid, aside from lapses here and there, is a smart, skilled player. He forces turnovers with his speed, and while he is sometimes out of position in the defensive zone, you take those growing pains.
  • That said, Duclair really reminds me of Chris Kreider in 2012. We were all enamored by Kreider during that run, but he was shooting at an unsustainable clip (20%) and that was covering up his defensive flaws. Duclair seems to be a step ahead in that regard.

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Ranger-Pack gives Flyers a run for their money in loss

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

It’s amazing how the roles were reversed this game. On Monday the Flyers dressed an AHL squad and looked outmatched by the Rangers. Last night, the Rangers dressed an AHL squad but didn’t look outmatched. That’s a testament to the strong undrafted UFA signings and solid development of the kids. They had a bad second period, but were always in the game. I only got home to catch the second half of the game, but such is life.

  • Danny Kristo had a solid game, but it makes you wonder if it’s enough to unseat some of the other kids. Even if you assume the Rangers send Anthony Duclair back to the Q, there’s still Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes, and Lee Stempniak to beat for a third line role. It’ll be tough for him.
  • The battle for the 7D spot has pretty much been resolved at this point. Dylan McIlrath won’t be sitting in the press box, he will get big minutes with the Wolf Pack. Steven Kampfer and Michael Kostka have been ‘eh’ as well. That leaves Conor Allen and Matt Hunwick. Allen will probably get big minutes with McIlrath in the AHL, leaving Hunwick. He’s been better than Kampfer and Kostka, that’s for sure.
  • I still think that Hayes needs some seasoning in the AHL. I see no harm in going the first month with Derick Brassard-J.T. Miller-Dominic Moore-Lindberg down the middle until Derek Stepan returns.

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Kids dominate skeleton crew Flyers

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The kids were at it again, taking it to a Flyers team that didn’t dress many starters. The Flyers are also in the middle of three games in three nights and four games in five nights, so there’s a fatigue and –since this is the preseason– lack of skill factor here as well. But it was still fun to watch Anthony Duclair’s snipe for the first goal, or Ryan Haggerty burn past Andrew MacDonald for the second goal. I actually watched the full game, first time this preseason, so hey, that’s cool too.

  • Duclair is forcing management to keep him around, and that’s a very good thing. The Rangers will need to trade someone if he sticks around, but that shouldn’t be a big deal. The nine game rule doesn’t apply to Duclair, since his contract doesn’t slide anyway.
  • Kevin Hayes is still a bit raw, but man the kid is big and skilled. He forced a ton of turnovers last night. I think he will benefit from a little time int he AHL, just to get adjusted to the new speed of the game, but he looks like the coup that everyone thought.
  • Haggerty had a strong game as well, but I think Duclair has passed him this preseason. Then again, there aren’t many who Duclair hasn’t passed.

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More kids with strong games as Rangers down Hawks

AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles

AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles

Another game, another strong showing for the kids. J.T. Miller pretty much assured himself a spot on the opening night roster with another strong game. Anthony Duclair looked unreal. Marek Hrivik had a strong game. Oscar Lindberg scored a goal. Cedrick Desjardins played really well in the second half of the game. Conor Allen and Dylan McIlrath, while not exactly stellar, managed to keep Jonathan Toews off the score board. I didn’t turn the game on until mid-second period, so the observations are based off that.

  • Spoke with Kevin when I turned the game on, he said Anthony Duclair, at least offensively, looked like he belonged in the NHL. Great instincts, was able to skate with Rick Nash and Derick Brassard. What’s holding him back is his play away from the puck. Honestly, this kid is more hyped than Evgeny Grachev way back when. There’s a long way to go for the kid to develop, and there’s a reason why I brought up Grachev. Not saying Duclair will turn into Grachev, but despite all his skill, he still needs to make it.
  • Oscar Lindberg’s goal was a softy, but he got open –which is incredibly important for a kid looking to make the team– and shot the puck through a screen. These are two fundamental aspects of hockey you expect to see from your fourth line, which is where Lindberg is penciled in at the NHL level.
  • Ryan Haggerty was a bit invisible, at least from the point where I turned on the game. Remember, he was only kept with the NHL club last year as a negotiating tactic to get him to sign in NY.
  • J.T. Miller looked engaged for a second game in a row. He was much more confident with the puck, especially on the powerplay. He also got to the front of the net for the Rangers third goal. It looks like he’s going to make this team.

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Kids impress in preseason loss to Devils

AP Photo/John Minchillo

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Well, the Rangers and Devils put on a show last night in a rare exciting preseason game. The Rangers lost on a pretty bad goal by Adam Henrique in the final minute, but wins and losses don’t really matter as much in the early going. I only got home in time for the third period, so my reaction points are only from that period. If there was something I missed, definitely let me know.

  • J.T. Miller really impressed me. He looked a lot more poised with the puck, he didn’t look lost without the puck, and he overall played like a kid who is looking to make this club. It will be interesting to see how he does it later in the preseason as more cuts are made.
  • Ryan Malone also played very well. It was nice to see him in front of the net on the powerplay, looking for rebounds, deflections, and screens. It’s something that only Chris Kreider really does on a regular basis. Malone is another guy who I’d like to see continue the strong play against teams as cuts are made.
  • Danny Kristo had his moments, and that feed to Matt Hunwick was a thing of beauty. Kristo is someone who Alain Vigneault singled out as “putting it all together.” His skill is NHL ready, but it was the three zone game that held him back.
  • Speaking of Hunwick, he made a great read on that play (where Kristo fed him, and he hit the post). I didn’t notice him much before or after, but I guess that’s a good thing.

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Final thoughts as Rangers outlasted by Kings

Unofficial Conn Smythe winner. Photo: Willens/AP

Unofficial Conn Smythe winner. Photo: Willens/AP

The Rangers came up short, for the fourth and final time in the Stanley Cup finals on Friday night. Dustin Brown hoisted the Cup for the Kings for the second time in three years and the Rangers are left to think what could have been. Sorry for no goal breakdown today but here’s a few thoughts and reflections on game five and the Rangers in general. Chin up Rangers fans, our team did us proud.

The World’s best: Henrik Lundqvist cannot do more than he did last night or in the entire series. He has emphatically proven he is the best goalie in the world and should have been a Conn Smythe contender even on a losing team.

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Rangers stay alive, force Game Five

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Well the Rangers didn’t get swept. Henrik Lundqvist was the star of the game, stopping 41 LA shots en route to the 2-1 victory, giving the Rangers their first win of the series. Benoit Pouliot and Marty St. Louis contributed all the offense the Rangers would need, as the difference maker –as per usual– was Hank. Jonathan Quick was somewhat human this game, stopping 17 shots.

In a series where puck luck has been the topic of conversation, the Rangers finally got some of their own. Twice during this game, the puck got through Hank and sat on the goal line. The first time, Anton Stralman tied up Jeff Carter’s stick before diving to move the puck. The second time a shot from the point (I believe from Jake Muzzin) got through Hank, and the bad ice stopped the puck from hitting the back of the net before Derek Stepan dove and shoved the puck under Hank.

Luck is luck, and you need some to win hockey games.

On to the goals:

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Kings on verge of sweep after Game Three shutout

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Jonathan Quick made 32 saves, including a bunch of outstanding saves that left us thinking how he got that, en route to a 3-0 shutout in Game Three. The win gives the Kings a 3-0 series lead, and puts the Rangers in the precarious position of getting swept and watching the Kings lift the Cup in their house. It is not an enviable position.

Lady Luck played a huge role in this game, as the first two Kings goals came off deflections, while the third came off a blocked pass that took a lucky bounce back. Lady Luck seemed to have a crush on Quick as well, as he made a pair of absolutely ridiculous stick saves on Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard. That’s not to discount Quick, who legitimately stole this game, but stick saves like those are 10% skill and 90% luck. But he made the saves when they counted.

On Twitter, a lot of people put this game on Henrik Lundqvist, which I just laughed at. Quick has outdueled Hank, that’s for sure, but Quick has had tremendous support from a team that’s playing like they’ve been here before. Hank hasn’t had that support.

On to the goals:

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Another OT loss puts Rangers in 2-0 hole

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

For the second straight game, the LA Kings never held a lead, but still managed to win in double overtime, giving them a 2-0 series lead over the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final. Dustin Brown deflected a Willie Mitchell shot from the point through Henrik Lundqvist to send the series to New York with a commanding lead. For the Rangers, it as another frustrating loss, as they blew a pair of two-goal leads before the game got to overtime.

I didn’t DVR the game, which makes goal breakdowns difficult when you forget to do the second period goals until overtime, and by that time you can’t rewind anymore. So here’s a quick review, in our favorite format: Bullet points.

  • Let’s start with the officiating, since that’s the elephant in the room. I have no idea how Benoit Pouliot can get whistled for goaltender interference, but Dwight King doesn’t on the exact same kind of play. King scored the third goal for the Kings, sparking their comeback. I’m not big on blaming the officiating for wins and losses, but this one was especially bad. I have no idea how that play isn’t reviewable. We don’t know this yet, but that one single play may have cost the Rangers a Stanley Cup. If it winds up being that situation, then the NHL should be ashamed of itself. “The puck went in before contact was made.” Yea, bull.
  • Then there’s that absurd rule about the puck over the glass. First, I hate the rule, get rid of it. Second, if it’s in the rulebook –which it is– you need to call it. I have no idea what the refs saw, and how they explained that puck hit the glass. It didn’t. That’s a call they need to make, but didn’t want to. Dumb rule for sure, but one that needs to be called because it’s in the rulebook.
  • Now that the officiating is out of the way, let’s be clear: The Rangers lost this game because they couldn’t hold on to a pair of two-goal leads. The officiating didn’t help, and I don’t see how they can see the King goal was a legitimate goal, but the Rangers blew the lead. Period.

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Justin Williams wins Game One in overtime

Photo: Canadian Press

Photo: Canadian Press

Justin Williams capitalized off a pretty gruesome Dan Girardi turnover to give the Kings a victory in Game One. The Kings also came back from down 2-0 in the first period, scoring once in the first and once in the second to tie the game, before Williams won it in overtime. It wasn’t all bad for the Rangers, who used their speed and were all over the Kings in the first period. The problem was that the Kings adjusted, forcing the Rangers into a dump-and-chase game, which the plays into the Kings’ favor.

Benoit Pouliot scored on a breakaway, and Carl Hagelin scored on a mini-breakaway/lucky bounce. Both used their speed to burn past a Kings defense that was not expecting the Rangers to be as quick as they were. But it was a turnover by Derek Stepan that got the Kings on the board, and then it was the Girardi turnover that sealed it for the Kings.

On to the goals:

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