When the Rangers lost Mika Zibanejad to a broken leg, the Rangers lost perhaps the one forward that would be the most difficult to replace. Zibanejad is a unique forward for the Rangers not in production, but the curveball he throws to the opposition when matching up. The majority of the Rangers are left-handed, pass-first players. Zibanejad is the exact opposite as a right-handed, shoot-first player.
This is the kind of player that the Rangers sorely needed for the longest time, as he was the pure shooter the Rangers needed not only at even strength, but even more so on the powerplay. It was the most evident the other night against Ottawa, when the Rangers could get nothing going on with the man advantage.
In this week’s episode of the Blue Seat Blogs-cast we discuss different ways to interpret wins, what it might take to pry Dougie Hamilton away from the Calgary Flames, and answer some listener questions. As always you can find us right here, on SoundCloud, and on iTunes.
The Rangers have had a poor stretch of games lately, and while they haven’t lost all of them, the continued poor play is a cause for concern. It seems to have come to a head last night, as the Rangers played poorly and were blanked by a tired Ottawa Senators team. The defense certainly failed with a bunch of miscues, but the offense couldn’t get anything going until the third period either.
Craig Anderson had one of the easier shutouts he’s ever had, as the Rangers failed to sustain any consistent pressure throughout. Couple that with the aforementioned defensive miscues, and the Rangers were doomed to a mediocre game. It wasn’t until the second half of the third, when Ottawa started to shell, that the chances started flowing. Too little, too late.
It’s clear the Rangers miss Mika Zibanejad on the powerplay. They won’t get much done with five lefties on the man-advantage. Also, it’s clear the Rangers have a lot of trouble when teams clog the neutral zone.
On to the goals:
As the Rangers look to get back to the proper process against a pretty bad Ottawa Senators team, the focus at puck drop will be on the return of Derick Brassard. Brassard was traded to Ottawa this summer in the deal that brought Mika Zibanejad. Brassard spent three seasons in New York, putting up seasons of 45, 60, and 58 points (27 goals in that season) while serving as the Rangers 1b center to Derek Stepan’s 1a. I’d expect some kind of recognition from the fans and perhaps an announcement on over the speakers, but no video tribute.
As for the game itself, this is the perfect opportunity for the Rangers to get back to the right process. They’ve been struggling to maintain offensive pressure and generate crisp defensive zone exits. It’s clear that the absences of Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich have had an impact on the forwards, but it’s also clear that outside of Skjei and McDonagh, no Rangers defenseman can consistently make the right pass to start a breakout.
Hartford Wolf Pack 3, Lehigh Valley Phantoms 1
Allentown, PA, November 26, 2016 – The Hartford Wolf Pack finished the first quarter of their season with a 3-1 win Saturday night over the Atlantic Division-leading Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the PPL Center.
The Wolf Pack (6-10-3-0, 15 pts.) built a 3-0 lead on goals by Nicklas Jensen, Matt Carey and Chris Brown, and Magnus Hellberg only allowed a late second-period goal by Phantom defenseman Samuel Morin.
Albany Devils 4, Hartford Wolf Pack 3 (OT)
By Henry Lucey
Hartford, CT, November 25, 2016 – Miles Wood’s goal at 1:43 of overtime completed an Albany Devil comeback Friday night at the XL Center, in a 4-3 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack.
The Devils fought back from a 3-1 third-period deficit on goals by Kevin Rooney and Ben Sexton.
In front of a crowd of 4,909, Wolf Pack coach Ken Gernander’s squad came out attacking in the game’s opening frame. After an early power play saw the Pack land five shots but ultimately come up empty-handed, Hartford’s Chris Brown finally broke the stalemate at the 9:55 mark. The right-winger found himself unmarked at the bottom of the left circle and sent a snap-shot off of Mackenzie Blackwood’s glove and into the back of Albany’s net, for Brown’s fourth tally of the year.
It’s a holiday tradition unlike any other: The Rangers/Flyers post-Thanksgiving showdown. In keeping with the tradition, the Rangers showed the Flyers how a real hockey team plays, besting their Metropolitan Division rivals 3-2 in a high-spirited matchup that featured some phenomenal saves by Henrik Lundqvist. All of this should be cause for celebration, but while I hate to be a downer I’m going to come in and rain on the Turkey Day hockey parade.
Just to get it out there, front and center for all to see, the Rangers did not play a good game. Their CF% for the game was 32.04%, and the only Rangers skaters with above a 40% individual CF% were Brady Skjei, who played exceptionally given the circumstances, Josh Jooris, and Kevin Klein (no Rangers cracked 50%). For those who are really statistically inclined, xGF% on corsica.hockey, which takes into account things like shot type, distance, and angle of the shot, was 37.12%, which is also, suffice to say, not very good. How on Earth did they win this game then? Two words: Henrik Lundqvist. His save percentage was 95.24% and he made some simply outrageous saves in close that any other goalie would have let in. Once again, Henrik bailed us out.
Henrik Lundqvist showed why he’s still the best goalie in the world, standing on his head and allowing just one flukey goal and one teammate-deflection goal as he carried the Rangers to a 3-2 win. The Rangers didn’t generate much sustained offense in this game, but did a good job capitalizing on turnovers to turn those into quick strike goals. It wasn’t the best showing, but a win is a win. After the debacle on Wednesday, you take the two points.
The defense struggled a lot, leaving slot men open almost regularly and forcing Lundqvist to make point blank saves. The forwards were having trouble sustaining offensive pressure as well. But Matt Puempel got his first goal as a Ranger on a goal that also marked Josh Jooris’ first assist as a Ranger. So that was cool.
On to the goals:
Here’s Chris Kreider KOing Brandon Manning in the first period. What a left.