After a disappointing loss in Dallas, the New York Rangers rebounded nicely in Sunrise, beating the Florida Panthers 5-2. Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh, and Martin St. Louis contributed a goal and an assist apiece while Derek Stepan had three assists. The Rangers did a good job using their speed to pressure the young Panthers in their own zone and the neutral zone, getting a few transition attempts in the process.
The gameplan from the start was to attack backup goalie –and former Rangers first round pick– Al Montoya with low shots that generated rebounds. The young Panthers defense could not clear all of them, and the puck wound up in the back of the net on three of those rebounds. The game plan was a rousing success.
On to the goals, no GIFs because of the new year. You’re stuck with still images.
Rangers 1, Panthers 0
There’s no real issue on this goal. Kevin Klein’s initial shot was blocked, and the puck bounced off a few Panthers –and Derek Stepan– right to Kreider who flicked it past Montoya for the first goal of the game.
Rangers 2, Panthers 0
The first of three goals that were a result of the rebound game plan. McDonagh started the rush in the defensive zone, and after a few quick passes, McDonagh joined the rush for a 3-on-2 break. McDonagh, with the puck, came in wide and put the puck on net, aiming for Montoya’s left pad with a low, hard shot. The rebound went right to Derick Brassard for the easy tap-in goal.
Rangers 3, Panthers 0
McDonagh made another great play here by knocking down the clearing attempt on the powerplay with his right skate. He settled the puck with room and with J.T. Miller in front, and fired it past Montoya. There’s no picture on this goal because I couldn’t get a good view of it from the TV angles provided.
Panthers 1, Rangers 3
MSL lost the puck on his chance, and the Panthers quickly turned the puck up the ice with one pass to a wide open Tomas Fleischmann, who got in behind Kevin Klein. Fleischmann fought off Klein’s backcheck and beat Hank short side with a wrister.
Panthers 2, Rangers 3
The Rangers didn’t have a coverage issue on this powerplay goal by the Panthers. McDonagh tried to clear the centering pass by Dave Bolland, but Alex Barkov’s stick got there first, pushing the puck to Jimmy Hayes for the easy goal.
Rangers 4, Panthers 2
Dan Boyle did a good job to keep the zone, getting the puck to Kreider behind the net. Stepan circled from the boards to the slot, where no one picked him up. Three Panthers were focused on Kreider with the puck, allowing him to get the puck to Stepan for the initial chance that Montoya stopped. After that, Jimmy Hayes failed to prevent MSL from getting to the rebound, and after a lucky bounce, got it past Montoya. This was the second rebound goal that Montoya gave up.
Rangers 5, Panthers 2
The Rangers lost the defensive zone face off, but eventually fought to clear the zone when Stepan chipped it up the boards to MSL. This trapped the Panthers and sprung MSL for the breakaway with Dominic Moore trailing the play. Neither Panther backchecking picked up Moore, and he got to the rebound (the third of the game) for the nail in the coffin.
The Rangers did a good job controlling the Panthers throughout this game, continuing to attack Florida in the third despite holding a lead. Considering the run the Panthers were on before last night’s game, this was a solid team win.
Alain Vigneault didn’t have the advantage to match up Girardi and McDonagh against the Panthers top line since he didn’t have last change. There were no consistent matchups throughout the game either. It’s worth noting that AV didn’t glue people to the bench at the end of the game, but that’s likely due to the big lead.
Individual Corsi Chart:
As expected, most of the Rangers were on the positive side of this chart (if I’m reading this right, then you want players to be above the middle 0 line and as far to the left as possible). This is in line with what we saw throughout the game.
Apparently the Rangers took one shot from on top of the boards and another from the stands, but aside from that, they did a good job of charging the net and getting shot attempts from high percentage locations. They also did a good job limiting the Panthers to low percentage shots.
The Rangers ended the year with a 20-11-4 record through 35 games, good for third in the Metro with games in hand on every team in the playoff picture. Their 9-3-0 record in December made up significant ground in the race for the top three spots in the division. The loss in Dallas could have been a setback, but the Rangers rebounded quite nicely to round out the year. Continuing the trend of good play in January will be necessary, as New York has a tough schedule ahead.
All charts courtesy of war-on-ice.com.