Game Wrap-ups

Offense shines as Rangers down Islanders


The Rangers started off the season on the right foot, as their offense shined in a 5-3 win over the Islanders. Jaroslav Halak kept this game interesting in the first period, as he was very sharp and basically kept the Isles in it. But it wasn’t enough, as the Rangers put up a five-spot on him by the time the night was through.

As expected, the defense still remains a concern for the Blueshirts. There were some pretty terrible breakdowns, some of which led to goals. If this team is going to hang Henrik Lundqvist out to dry all season, then they are going to need to score five per game to win. But a win is a win in the first game of the year. Lessons are learned. They adjust. They move on.

On to the goals:

Rangers 1, Isles 0

The Rangers continue to be a good transition team, when they are able to transition. This started with a good play in the defensive zone –which involved John Tavares tripping over his own teammate– followed by a quick transition to a 4-on-2 rush. Jesper Fast got the puck to Brandon Pirri, who fired his shot from the top of the circle. Nick Leddy was caught deciding between Fast and Michael Grabner, as the former stayed high and the latter crashed the net. A big rebound made the goal easy for Grabner, his first as a Ranger.

Rangers 2, Isles 0

This was a great zone entry by Mika Zibanejad, who got the puck deep with a nifty move through his legs. He then got the puck up to the point to Brady Skjei. Skjei kept his head up the whole way and found Mats Zuccarello in the slot. His backhanded went off a skate and through Halak. DJ ZBad’s first point as a Ranger too.

Rangers 2, Isles 1


The Rangers turned the puck over in the offensive zone, and then Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich appeared to stop skating at the red line. The Isles moved the puck well, and Casey Cizikas hit Nick Leddy as the fourth man in. Marc Staal led with his skates instead of his stick while trying to block the shot. That failed, and Leddy beat Hank stick side.

Rangers 2, Isles 2


Yea, I know Buchnevich had a bad pass in the offensive zone that started the rush. But this is bad defense by Dan Girardi. Why would he leave that passing lane wide open?

Rangers 3, Isles 2

Buchnevich fired a cross-ice pass that Kreider gloved down for the breakaway goal. Simple. Effective. Win. Nick Holden’s first point as a Ranger too.

Rangers 4, Isles 2

A powerplay goal to kick things off. This was just a beautiful pass by Kreider to Brandon Pirri. His first as a Ranger.

Rangers 5, Isles 2

J.T. Miller empty netter.

Rangers 5, Isles 3


The Isles scored on the rush again. This was the product of poor neutral zone defense and back checking.┬áBrock Nelson with the goal. A bunch of folks blamed Holden for this, but that’s a tough spot for him. He had a guy cutting in front that he had to stay with, and expected a better back check from his teammates. It’s an overall team fail, not just on Holden.

Quick note on the below charts: Used to get these from Most of the people who ran the site have been hired by NHL teams by now. So the new charts are from Not as many or in as much detail.

Possession (Score-Adjusted Corsi, 5v5)


This was a pretty close possession battle throughout. The Rangers have more forward skill though, and it showed. It’s just one game, and I don’t read too much into single game charts like this. My recommendation is to look at it and try and notice trends over time across multiple games.

Shot Locations, 5v5


The Rangers managed to get a lot of shots from high priced real estate in the slot. They gave up a ton too, but that is expected. This is the new norm for the Rangers, even if it’s just one game. Keep an eye on this, as I’m guessing they will get a ton of shots in close, but give them up as well.

That’s one game in the books, with 81 left to go. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t perfect, but it was a win. Let’s see how the kinks work out over the coming weeks.

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  • I bet there are some pissed off Ranger fans this morning. Ya know, the ones hoping they tanked the season right out of the gate just to get rid of the coach.

      • Not here. They say they are fans, and want to fire the coach after every game. Enjoy the weekend, everyone.

        Regards- orange

    • You’re a low-velocity troll, aren’t ya? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see coaches fired, after all it happens to every single one of them eventually.

      And lastly–Vigneault’s mantel has as many NHL championships as mine does–none. So maybe you should stop snarking at fans who’ve already seen more than enough of AV and his smug, slippery nonsense in the last 3 years.

      • people have literally posted that they hope this team loses. That’s rediculous and I will poke fun at those “fans” every day of the week.

        Same way I have you crap for hoping Team USA failed just to prove a point.

        • People want to see the proper lineup, whether it’s the Rangers OR Team USA. The twaddle you’re peddling is worthy of scorn: you’re implying that an informed fanbase is somehow a bad thing, that people who pay lots of $$$ to watch a sport don’t have a right to complain when a coach forces 12 games of Daniel Paille down fans’ throats.

          I happen to think that Vigneault’s evaluation of players is poor–he’s the type of coach who forces his system onto a roster rather than adjusting his style of play to the roster. Don’t need to restate anything else regarding him.

          Lastly, free expression of opinions is a guaranteed right…who the hell are you to prevent people from expressing what they think? Judging people’s fandom based on whether or not they agree with your own narrow-minded opinions is kinda Trumpish….don’t ya think?

          • A proper team may not be the team YOU or I want. It may be the team that the coach thinks matches up against the opponent that night. Just like putting Fast on the Zinbad line for the final shift in the 2nd period. Putting out guys that serve a purpose. You love McIlrath. We all thought Skjei had a so-so training camp. Skjei had a tremendous game – not sure we knew he was sick.

            Fan GMs are not the most knowledgeable – Let’s try to remember that.

        • Nobody really wants the Rangers to lose but your arrogance reminds me of what my father used to say “The first rose does not a summer make.” Does the win make me an AV fan? Not at all.

    • Gorton actually fired AV early in the third period, which allowed the rangers to rally for the Win.

      Rumor has it the Undertaker was appointed interim head coach, ensuring that he won’t see any actual ice time.

    • I don’t understand what the difference between people wanting to see AV fired and people that want Girardi traded. You know…the people that say stuff like “Yea, I know Buchnevich had a bad pass in the offensive zone that started the rush but it’s still Dan Girardi’s fault and no matter what he does this year I’ll be sure to bang the drum endlessly pointing out every flaw in his game until he’s gone”

      It’s getting old, guys. It’s gettin’ real old…like Girardi. LOL

      • want to fire the coach? okay! trade girardi? great! play the Undertaker instead of clendening? sure! disagree with dave? cool! fire Sather? you got it! let us hear it. that’s what the comments section is for!

        this ranger blog happens to have the most interesting comments of any out there i’ve been able to find for years now, and it’s because the readers have lots of different opinions, and are thoughtful about the game and the team – in most cases respectfully.

        • Exactly this. Well said.

          The only ask we have ever had here is to have civil discussions. I know we are all passionate fans, but we all want the same thing. It’s the approach that we disagree on.

        • I absolutely agree and it is the respectably and the good natured ribbing that I enjoy, or have enjoyed most.

          IMHO – there has been some recent stuff that crosses the respectability line. And It seems that we have already lost one of the good guys, (whose shall remain nameless but most would know who I mean) who I believe was turned off by some of the newbie punk-talk crap.

          I think I speak for most of the regulars from the last three years or so – we don’t really dig it. And if I don’t – my apologies.

          But if that’s how you roll, there are plenty of other sites where you can throw that crap around and enjoy it.

  • Think they played well and obviously the fwd lines have the ability to put some points on the board. Other than the 2nd goal against you have to place the blame on poor back checking and coverage by the forwards not on the two punching bags (#5 #18). Its only game one. Lets not get too high or low after one game.
    My biggest gripe is listening to Joe M. Everyone is great and wonderful. He spoke the same way last year. So either Joe can’t see or he’s the real bobble head company guy. I would love to Dave Maloney do the TV color. Maybe I should go back to the old days when I turned the sound down on my 19″ TV and listened to the call by Marv. LOL

    • Dave, I have to disagree with you on “there’s a lot of blame on Holden for this” on the Isles third goal. Unfortunately Holden doesn’t have the luxury of dissecting the play after the fact. He has to make decisions in a split second (real time). He effectively took his man out of the play, making him unavailable to receive a pass. I’m not sure if you ever played but these plays develop within a second or two. When you look at Holden’s legs, he is gliding backwards with his legs wide. There is no way he can change direction and now pick up the trailer in the slot. That is the backckecking forward’s man. Plus, the Islander along the boards does a great job of holding onto the puck and waiting for his slot guy to break free. If you look at it, by the time the Isle makes the pass, Holden is screened by Staal, Zucc and ultimately the player he is covering. This is an excellent pass by the Isle winger and a bad hesitation by the Ranger back checker, not a misread by Holden.

      • I phrased that poorly. I’m going to edit that. I meant that a lot of people blame him for it, but I don’t think it’s that simple. He had to cover the guy cutting through the slot. He had no back checking support.

        • The goals last night run contrary to your narrative Dave, that it was poor defence. It was the same problem as last year with forwards caught up ice & the D being left out to dry. How you can absolve Holden on goal 3(I don’t blame him either) but fault G on goal 2 is beyond reason. Goal 2 is on Mac who failed to read the play and was not covering Clutterbuck as he should have. That play was also on the forwards, who have to make sure they don’t try passes that catch the forwards flatfooted in the O-zone.

          • Selective memory?

            “The Rangers turned the puck over in the offensive zone, and then Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich appeared to stop skating at the red line.”

    • Except for Doc Emerick and Eddie O, Sam and Joe are about the most enjoyable tandem that I’ve heard.

      Are they homers? Yeah big time – but most of the Team coverage guys are.

      But if you really want to be entertained – turn on the Islanders feed. OMG….

    • You are so right! I have been a fan since 1962 and love to see NYR win but I can’t stand Joe M and his cheer leading. Whenever the opponent has a broadcast, I switch to that one and if there is none, then I turn off the sound.

  • Rangers were quicker, both skating and with the puck, good sign. If we possess the puck more then maybe we mask the D corps.

    Buch (really awful giveaway but good otherwise), Vesey, Zib, and Pirri, all welcome additions that contributed big time to the quicker pace of the rangers’ game. Even movement on the PP was crisp. Zib is a stud, a force throughout the game. And McD was McD again. Very strong game from him.

    Pat, it was great meeting you after the first period.

  • It was great to See Kreider finish on the break…and Pirri just shots…you gotta love that..PP looked better now that we have some shooters…decent start…

  • The thing that stood out was how much quicker we were, relative to the fishsticks.

    It’s the first game, we won, great, now can we score at this rate all season???? I’ll bite my tongue for the first 20 games or so, try to be objective, and see how the defense shakes out. Until then, keep winning guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • You’re right Walt. The Isles looked terrible last night. If the Rangers didn’t have that little let up at the start of the third period, last night’s game would have been a tidy 4 or 5 goal win.

      • Ya, it could be a long season for the Islanders, even Tavares was getting penalties, likely out of frustration. But you have to give the Isles one thing, they are tenacious and never give up.

    • saw more creativity out of the forward lines and particularly the power play than maybe all of last season. guys were flying, moving their legs, lots of shots … fun game to watch. let’s hope we can look forward to more of the same!

      • very crisp passing on the PP which is a direct result of having better skill in the line up. the movement was quick which resulted in good chances. that’s what good PPs look like. good stuff.

  • I liked Marc Stall’s play, I saw the first half of the game and he seemed to be more aggressive, going after opponents and playing with size.

    • I was never worried about Staal returning to form frankly, playing injured is not easy & he had a whole summer to tune up & get stronger. Isles have some serious holes there but they are combative but St. Loo offers another test next game. They are big, deep & a real good test.

    • I always worry about him when he enters scrums, he really can’t take any cheap shots thanks to his concussion history and reconstructed face. But I do like that he has some of his snarl back.

  • Easy to see that Zinbad line is the new #1 line. Is it me or was Stepan invisible most of the game?

    Vesey didn’t show much either while Nash still thinks his head down push along the boards works.

    4th line played with some fire. PP had some good movement. Defense played well for 2 periods, but this is where Beuk needs to shorten the shifts. Girardi and Staal showed their tired legs in the 3rd.

    PK looked better, liked the energy JT brought to it.

    1 win in the books.

    • Stepan not only was invisible but he seemed to SLOW down his line…….vesey looks real good but stepan is certainly a hinderance…..
      Again Kreider, miller , zucc, ziban, vesey, buch and maybe hayes are LONG term keepers………pirri and grabner and even fast looked good…
      girardi and holden not so good

  • this was a win the rangers wanted and they got now they play the echelon teams like the blues and the sharks and the red wings on Wednesday fasten your seatbelts

  • The Rangers really outplayed the Islanders. If it wasn’t for Halak, they could have gotten at least 2 more goals. Last year the Rangers couldn’t beat them, but this year the added speed is evident. The defense wasn’t spectacular but decent. This could be a very exciting team that will get better as they gel together. For all you pessimistic “fans” I am excited even after one game!

      • This is not a knock on AV, but the Isles stripping their team of forward depth this summer is going to make game planning Tavares out of games very simple this year.

        Unless Strome and Nelson become big time centers this year, the Isles won’t be in the playoffs this year.

        • It’s not that Tavares’ linemates limit him, it’s the fact that the Isles other three lines are terrible and don’t need to be matched up against. Teams will be running their top D pair against Tavares without worry

        • LOL…… Just wanted to make sure the AV haters wouldn’t let a simple compliment slide. By the way, Tavares will still get his 80 pts. this year and Andrew Ladd will set career highs in Goals, Assists and Points as well. That’s how good Tavares is.

  • They looked like the teams of two and three years ago: fast fast fast. I think last year management got complacent, thinking, “Hey, we had a Stanley Cup finals and a President’s Trophy; how much better can we get? Let’s just try again,” and they ended up with a team that was a year older and slower.

    Now maybe a really great coach (like a really great general or a really great manager or a really great horseman) would adjust hist style to the talent he has, but that level of greatness is rare. AV knows how to coach a fast, north-south team, so that’s what management needs to give him.

  • Some thoughts game 1
    1. Major talent difference, isles lost neilson, okposo, martin–we should win
    2. Vesey was targeted , even announcers said it
    3 Girardi and holden ? ???
    4. Because of #2 and #3 McIlrath should be playing!!!
    5. Nice win, BUT I still want AV out of here
    6. Stepan seemed to SLOW down his line…..

    • I was really happy for Kreider because I always thought playing with Stepan was an anvil around his neck. Vesey should be playing with Hayes & Miller. Someday I hope Rangers get wise to the fact that Miller is a better centre than Hayes & I’m not dissing Hayes, I just think it’s not a good position for him.

      • Spot on paulronty……stepan slows the line down…..I would love to see miller centering vesey and either grabner or zucc or even nash….you and I are better centers than stepan….slow , shot..AV does not know how to use his players…stepan must be his favorite like girardi……FIRE AV

    • The loss of Martin cannot be underestimated enough. I sat there in my seats last night and mentioned how Martin would have created havoc against the Rangers 10 minutes in. Isles will regret that non-signing big time, IMO. They had the best 4th line in the league by far last year.

        • depends on whether those 10 minutes make the difference from being a contender or not. you need 4 lines in this league now to be relevant. in a hard cap league, depth has become a key ingredient to winning. the Isles did not seem to be as hard to play against this past game as the Rangers were able to use their speed more easily.

          • I just looked Martin was averaging anywhere from 10.5 to a little over 12 minutes per game with the Isles.

  • Overall not a bad effort. It was great to get a win on opening night. They made the Isles look slow often. The kids played pretty well. Buch made one awful pass and some sparkling ones. That is going to happen as he learns, but the good passes showed off his talents. It was great to see Kreider play the way everyone has been waiting to see again. Skjei made some decent plays too. The forwards are going to have to try to help prevent rushes down the ice if the Rangers Dmen are going to have a prayer and Hank doesn’t feel lonely all season. ?

  • Wouldn’t blame Holden on that last one. Yes he shouldn’t have sprawled out but he was right to take the guy driving the net. Staal took the puck carrier and forced him to move the puck. Zucc needs to pick up a high guy and Stepan shouldn’t have stopped moving his feet.

  • Loved the energy. Loved the offensive zone mentality of putting pucks on the net.

    Zinbad is the real deal. Pirri’s got a great shot and a knack for getting the puck near the goal. Buch is gonna be someone to contend with when he gets a few more games under his belt. Liked Vesey’s energy and movement. Really liked the 4th line.

    And hey – was the Chris Kreider charging to the net? if that dude get’s it together we are going to have some fun this year.

    And then there is the “D.”

    Personally I though Skjei was the best one out there. McD looked slow – very slow. Staal* looked good early and fell off – same with Holden. “G” is still a question. Where is DMAC???

    It’s new season and we are in first place in the Metro – Bring on the Cup…

      • Paul – I zoomed through the game quickly on DVR (went to see the Bolts whoop Detroit) so I might have missed some stuff.

        If nothing else though – he can be sent down since the jury is still out on most everyone else.

        Clendening looks like a good puck mover and I didn’t see him on the ice for any goals against and I don’t think Skjei was either.

        Give DMAC a fair at this thing though. He did not look too happy during introductions and who could blame him.

  • I’m not sure this is a good example, but the way to stop the second goal is for Hank to get involved before the shot. This particular pass may be a tiny bit too far out, but Hank never breaks up opportunities like this and other tenders do. When we moan about Hank being left out to dry, we might remind ourselves that one of the people leaving him out to dry is Lundqvist himself.

    • Hank plays deep in the net, so yes there is more net to shoot at, but hell that first goal was in the royal road & too quick for him to move out. People think Hank should save every shot, but never mention that there were several great stops too.

      • I agree that this shot was likely too tough, but I meant to illustrate a point. The shooter got the puck barely outside the crease. Had he been a foot closer, Hank still would not have had a play whereas other tenders would have. This is perhaps less a product of deficient skill and more a product of how deep he plays.

        My point is that Hank gives up goals on plays that would not result in a goal against Fleury. Yet, on those very plays, Hank appears blameless. A goaltender with Hank’s positioning and style tends to be overrated because we see what he is doing and not what he could be doing. [We notice when Fleury gets beat because he is out too far.]

        That is not to say that he is not outstanding, not to say he is not a future deserved HOFer.

        • Mike Richter played far out like Fleury too, but he was a great goalie when it counted. Sometimes, I can recall, it was easier to score on Richter with the deke when he was way up at the top of the crease. All styles have their weaknesses.

          • All goalies played high with the goal of cutting down the shooters angle back then. Playing back is simply the next evolution in the modern goalkeeper.

            That is what Hank and Benoit Allaire brought to the table. They discovered that if a goalie plays deeper in the crease they can stop more pucks. Playing deeper also gives a goalie a better chance to stop redirections, as they have more time to react and adjust. Additionally, sitting deeper gives the goalie more space to move freely as he doesn’t have to get tangled in the stuff going on at the top of the crease.

            Most goalies that have a sudden rebirth, like Devan Dubnyk, usually experience that uptick in performance because they start sitting back in their crease.

          • My point wasn’t that Fleury had a better style than Hank – or that Fleury was a better tender. My point was this: In a hypothetical universe in which Fleury and Hank were equal and played on equal teams, the eye test would tell us that Hank was better and goalie metrics would tell us that Hank faced more difficult shots.

  • Dear Brandon Pirri,

    I apologize, dude. Shoot as much as you want! That shot from Pirri on the first goal was a laser, and it had to be. The speed and location of that shot was vital to handcuffing Halak and forcing a juicy rebound for Grabner to slam home.

    I don’t know if Pirri is a viable long term option as a 4C, but he needs to be in the lineup almost every night.

  • Isles first goal…we need to mention the timing of the goal…(awful timing) and Hank not being in position…these are the type of goals I have mentioned in the past about HenLeak….many have anointed him to what he is not…he is a good goalie and it stops there

    Fire AV

  • Nice to see some of the new guys get on the score sheet; also nice to see some of the old guys do it too. But I saw a very disorganized defense last night and think it is time to stop trying to drive a square peg into a round hole; this defense can not play man to man and would do better with a zone. There are also two old, very nice, once capable guys who should be demoted to third pair or even scratched. McIlrath should be playing unless and until he plays himself out of town. If something like this does not happen, Lundquist is in for another tough year.

    • I don’t think G & S were the weak links at all. I still think the weak link is the third pair but that will be remedied somewhat when Klein gets back. Right now, my third pair would be Holden(he played better than I thought he would) & DMAC. Skjei & Clendo will be ripe for the picking by the next three opponents.

  • Can we all agree that Hank should never – never ever – ever – play the puck?

    There were five Islanders within ten feet of the crease and was he chasing the puck behind the goal. There were also two or three or four other risky moments.

    His puck handling and his decision making about puck handling is a recipe for disaster…..

    • If it was up to me I’d remove the quad & forbid goalies to go behind the goal line. That would open up the offensive side of the game immeasurably. Interesting that two players, Bobby Orr & Dan Boyle advocate restoring the centre red line. Orr reckons it would force D to make plays instead of just firing it up the ice willy nilly.

      • Yeah, but restoring the red line would also kill stretch passes, like Kreider’s goal from last night.

        Bobby Orr is a player’s agent. I’m sure he represents a ton of D men, and wouldn’t mind seeing the red line come back to slow the game down. That would make older Ds (the guys with the bigger contracts) viable again.

        • No that was not a two line pass so it would have been OK. Orr thinks the game is too dangerous with the chip & dash & he mentioned guys getting cold cocked looking back for that pass. His point was not to bring back slow D because he certainly wasn’t. He thinks D-men now are very limited & can’t make plays coming out like they had to do with a centre line. I actually think he is right.

          • Buchnevich was behind his own blue line, so it would have been a two line pass in the old days.

      • I’d like to start with getting rid of the Zoid. That’s a joke. It rarely, if ever, comes into play.

        Before the Zoid I liked the watching the risks some of the goalies would take (except Hank) to play the puck.

        Gives the good stick handling goalies a little skill advantage – which i guess leaves us at a disadvantage – but oh well….Hank’s the King…

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