The Rangers game last night was chock full of choppy ice and sloppy play. The Florida Panthers came to New York after beating Ottawa Saturday night to a rested Rangers squad. There were messy goals, homecomings, and a brutal injury to Mika Zibanejad all in the first overtime game all year. Let’s dive in:
- Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello played out of their minds. They’re all animals this year and thank the hockey gods.
- I’m saying this despite Hayes taking the most Hayes penalty of all time, basically clotheslining James Reimer accidentally because he couldn’t quite stop in front of the net.
- The inability to play well could be attributed to the Knicks having the court earlier in the day, which is what we’ll say until we see how they play tomorrow night. The Panthers played last night and had to travel and were still on par with the Rangers, though…
- Speaking of back to backs, the Rangers travel to play Pittsburgh today, but Henrik Lundqvist was in net last night. Why play him against a mostly injured, non-prior-year-Stanley-Cup-winning team in Florida? Why not save him to be fresh against Pittsburgh?
- Also, speaking of the proximity of the Rangers’ net, why do the Rangers find it necessary to slide and block shots all the time? Isn’t this something we complained about incessantly with John Tortorella behind the bench? Can we stop with this?
- Kevin Klein has been the biggest offender (this side of Dan Girardi, who for the love of all things holy needs to not be a first pair thing) of the slide-and-lose-your-man defense, and frankly, he hasn’t been great. If you’ve been listening to the podcast, you know we’ve defended his play, however maybe the Rangers should have sold high at some point…
- …the only issue is, where are you going to trade an older defenseman and get a younger defenseman in return?
- Speaking of defensemen, Keith Yandle had his first goal of the year, because of course.
- Worth noting: the Rangers were the last team to play an overtime game. The players out on the ice were Zibanejad, Zuccarello, and Ryan McDonagh.
It’s important to talk about the physically painful game Zibanejad had, first being pile driven (I’m not big into wrestling but this sounds appropriate) into the ice by Jason Demers, then breaking his fibula on a wayward slide into the boards care of what otherwise was a great defensive play. Missing Zibanejad for 6-8 weeks will hurt, no question. Thankfully, he should be back this season and we hope for him that he is in less pain than he was immediately afterwards on the ice.
There’s no question that this season has been great for the Rangers. A great test will occur tonight in Pittsburgh, finally meeting the team that whooped them out of the playoffs last April.