Game Wrap-ups

Rick Nash and Pavel Buchnevich Carry Rangers Past Sabres

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Rangers badly needed to follow up Tuesday’s win over the Flyers with a solid performance, and bank two more points.  With the bottom-dwelling Sabres in town, the Rangers didn’t disappoint, winning 4-3.  Though the game was a little bit close for comfort, it was another encouraging performance from the Blueshirts, who seem to have bounced back after hitting rock bottom in Pittsburgh.

The Rangers normally rely on a balanced scoring attack, but they’ve found a top line and have started to ride its collective hot hand.  Rick Nash potted two more goals (he now has four in the last two games alone), and Pavel Buchnevich got the game-winner to stave off overtime after the Sabres tied the game 3-3 late in the third.  Let’s take a look at the goals.

Rangers 1, Sabres 0 

Essentially a carbon copy of Nash’s first goal vs. the Flyers on Tuesday.  Buchnevich chipped the puck to center ice, and Nash simply sped past the Buffalo defenseman, then rifled a picture-perfect wrist shot over Robin Lehner’s glove.

Rangers 1, Sabres 1

Buffalo ties the game with a well-executed power play goal.  Ryan McDonagh and Nick Holden both shaded towards the strong side, leaving Kyle Okposo open at the back door.  Sam Reinhart makes a great pass here, and Okposo just needs to get the shot off quickly before Lundqvist can get set.

Rangers 2, Sabres 1

Just as a Rangers power play expired, the puck takes a fortunate bounce to JT Miller.  Miller takes his time and fires a bullet off the crossbar and down.  This is fantastic individual execution by JT, and David Desharnais must have been last to touch the puck before Miller gathered it, so he was credited with an assist.

Rangers 2, Sabres 2

Justin Falk (yes, the one that played for the Rangers, not the other one) scored his first goal in 100 games.  This one came after the expiration of a penalty to Kevin Shattenkirk, so the Rangers actually had three defensemen on the ice.  For this team, that’s never a good thing.  Falk’s shot was on the ice, came through a maze of legs and sticks, and might’ve even deflected at the end.  Really a seeing-eye goal that Lundqvist could do nothing about.

Rangers 3, Sabres 2

The Rangers came out of the locker room and dominated the third period, finally taking a deserved lead on this goal.  The top line was all over the Sabres, and it was Pavel Buchnevich again creating offense (sensing a theme here?).  His pass led directly to Nick Holden’s point shot, which was tipped on the way in and caromed off the end-boards right to Nash, who slammed it home.  At this point, it felt like there was no way the Rangers weren’t going to win.

Rangers 3, Sabres 3

Then, Brendan Smith happened.  Smith took an unnecessary delay of game penalty, putting the Sabres on the power play.  Buffalo came into this game with the 31st ranked power play in the NHL, and the Rangers with the 5th ranked penalty kill; the Sabres scored two power play goals.  Go figure.  On this one, Rasmus Ristolainen lets go a big slap shot from the point, which appeared to tick off Mats Zuccarello’s stick and deflect past a helpless Hank.

Rangers 4, Sabres 3

Rejoice, for our Young Russian Son has come to the rescue!  Buchnevich, who hadn’t scored in 13 games, finally got one, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  The most impressive thing about this play was how all three forwards were involved in the forecheck, hunting the puck and forcing a turnover in the offensive zone.  Mika Zibanejad’s incredible patience drew Lehner out of his crease, and Buch was there for the tap-in.

Score-adjusted Corsi (5 on 5)

The Rangers were solid in the first period, and dominant in the third.  If not for the Sabres being opportunistic on the power play, the score probably would’ve been a bit more lopsided.

Cumulative Expected Goals (all strengths)

This chart shows that the Rangers created more quality chances than the Sabres throughout the course of the game.

The Sabres are a bad team, and the Rangers – even shorthanded due to injuries and struggling as of late – were expected to win this game.  Still, it’s very encouraging that they were able to control play and not rely too heavily on Henrik Lundqvist to steal two points (though he made a jaw-dropping glove save at the end of the game to preserve the lead).  This game was especially important given the four-game west coast trip that lies ahead.

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  • Do people realize what a great save Henrik made with less than 4 seconds to play to save the game for his team? Incredible.

    Meh, another game, another lackluster amount of play for a period of time, and Henrik to the rescue. Once again, individual plays result in goals as opposed to sustained pressure. Though the Rangers did have that in the first period. Lehner made some good saves as well.

    Buffalo is a bad team that is playing hard, but it’s hard to get excited by a Ranger team that should have dominated them. They did at times but it certainly was not a 60 minute effort.

    Henrik is playing off the charts right now. Though he gave up 3, he made no less than 5 highlight reel saves, the last one the most important.

    2 pts.

  • Don’t care for the stats which , I take, say we outplayed the Sabres in the 1st and 3rd. We had better opportunities and if not for 2 Sabres PP goals the score would have been more lopsided. WELL, it didn’t feel like that watching the game and once again if not for Hank we could have been on the losing end despite these wonderful stats.
    If not for the Zib Nash and Buch line we lose. When CK got hurt the obvious replacement to fill his role was Nash. It took some time to figure that out and I hope they leave em together. Grabner belongs on the 2nd line with JT and Zuc. When Hayes returns Jim V and Litt. I like Holland , more noticeable than Boo. Fast and Carey belong with Holland and DD is the guy out although he can take someone’s spot when they fall asleep. With Stahl out, who cares, its time to bring up another D. We gave up almost 40 shots, we win by one goal. We will take it but far from a great performance.
    PS. all of a sudden announcers are talking about the rangers need more physical play and Lindy tell John G between periods that’s what we need. Well holy smokes what a revelation. Half the people on this blog have been saying this for a long time. The coaches should donate part of their salary to this blog

    • Agree, FB. This performance had L written all over it from the 10 min mark on. Glad they got the win, but where the heck is the you know what from our Blueshirts?

  • I was at the game last night. From the eye test it definitely felt like we had controlled the play for more than half the game but hank did make some unbelievable saves to bail us out at times.

    The Zib/Nash/Buch looked good … real good.

    Lettieri will have growing pains but he drew two penalties with his play along the boards which was great.

    With Kreider, Hayes and Staal all out, our depth is definitely being tested. And to me, it was noticeable. We can get by against a team like buffalo, but I dunno about the upper echelon teams in the east right now like Washington, Boston, Tampa and Toronto.

    Brendan smith … I like him. I’m probably in the minority. He has snarl and he plays a physical game. He’s the kinda guy you want clearing the crease in the playoffs as we saw last spring. I want him playing more now that the whole coming to camp outta shape is 5 months in the past. I feel like he needs minutes to get his game back but dude … you can’t take 3 penalties in one game! You’re making me look bad!

    All in all, 4 points so far this week before going out west. We needed them and we got them. I’m still debating on whether I wanna blow this thing up and get rid of everyone because I want this team to make the playoffs because you never know what could happen when you get in, and I would truly be upset if we didn’t have the playoffs to look forward to as fans. But we shall see as these next few weeks play out.


  • We picked up 2 points against the bottom of the barrel, but a win, is a win! The team should have beaten the Sabers by a load, but we had to sweat it out, with Hank doing his usual head standing to bail us out.

    Nash is a streak scorer, now two games in a row, he’s getting hot at the perfect time, his trade value just went up last night. Buch skating with decent players shows how good the kid is. They say that cream floats to the top, AV prefers the kid on the 4th line, what an idiot.

    The next two weeks will dictate what we do as far as trade, or stand pat. The west coast road trip is a killer, let’s see if we have the guts to play like they really care.

    Like Dan above, I want them in the PO’s, but that would mean we go with the hand we have, and that really isn’t a winner. Hell last night, Ristolainen took a cheap shot at Mac Truck. Who was the only guy to show gonads and come to his defense, Smith, the much maligned Smith who stayed in AV’s Chateau Bow Wow all season long! Yeah Holden is a better choice to play than Smith????? Oh well, I’m tired of the crap, let’s just go out and play well, and enjoy the rest of the season!!!!!

    On a side note, for those who didn’t catch it, Vinni Lettieri is the grand son of Lou Nanne, who was a decent player in his day for the North Stars………

  • Frustrating team.

    Some days your excited about it all, other days it’s obvious they won’t be champs anytime soon.


  • Brendan Smith in my opinion is a mediocre defenseman (not bad, not good). He takes bad penalties, has little offence to his game, and is not a great skater. He does play somewhat physical at times, but is definitely over paid. I think Kampfer has played well and continues to improve when given the chance to play. Staal being out, isn’t going to be the end of the world for us. I don’t care how good Nash plays (and I really like him, our best forward many times), if we get a first rounder and a decent prospect, Hasta La Vista baby! Even If he nets 30 goals for the year, we still won’t win the Cup, even if Hank continues to stand on his head in goal. Isn’t that what it is all about, winning the Cup? Look to next year!

    • Smith ups his game more then most Rangers. He’s the guy who would be the X factor in the playoffs and you can bank on it.

      AV messed with his head. Most Rangers have AV headaches that can at any time mess up their mind.

      • And you know this how?

        He upped his game against the Sabres? His game must be fairly far down to up it that much where he received so much penalty box time.

        NYR upcoming road trip…4 games. What’s your point take from the 4?

        • it’s a feeling. I see this team as having to deal with AV more then wanting to take the ice for him.

          that’s how I see it.

          I hope the team has a good road trip, sometimes getting away goes well for this team in the past, we are playing well at home so I hope the past road records they have had continues…

          Since Henrik motivated them in front of the fans and cameras I have liked what I see, I think it worked.

          more then I see, more feel, the club is getting from AV.

          again its how I feel.

      • Bad penalties by Smith and Shattenkirk last night (though KS was bailed out by embellishment call), but I think both have played very well the last 2-3 games. May not show on the stat sheet, but good D-men play often doesn’t.

        Smith wouldn’t be the most physical player on most teams, but on this team (especially with CK hurt), he stands out with the occasional big hit. Most impressive was his payback for a crushing hit on Staal, where he did it smartly and legally, and drew an extra penalty against Philly. KS has been much steadier in his own zone. Hope it continues.

        McD’s stepped up too. Only Skjei has been shaky lately with a terrible forced play up the boards last night leading to a tying goal, and a few plays recently where guys have gotten away from him. Lot of confidence in him in the overall, though.

        I think the biggest problem on the team has been the D, especially giveaways at the point, but I’m encouraged overall the last few.

      • AV messed with his head? He came to camp out of shape, was absolutely terrible the first few weeks and deserved to be benched. He did improve somewhat from his brutal start, but that is not saying he is very good now. I’ll say it again, he is an average defenseman who takes to many penalties,is inconsistent and adds nothing offensively. He makes around 5 million a year and is definitely overpaid. So far a bad signing. We could have gotten someone as good or better cheaper.

        • Smith is overpaid for what he’s done so far, but please don’t tell me you think that Holden, and Kemper are better??????? Please say it isn’t so!!!

          • Kampfer in the time he has been asked to play, has been absolutely no worse then Smith overall this year. I realize, that he hasn’t been playing long enough, to truly make accurate analysis. I’m not saying he is Bobby Orr, but has been somewhat solid defensively making few mistakes and dependable in his own end and seemingly improving to some degree. He has preformed above and beyond expectations in my opinion. He deserves some credit which for some reason he doesn’t get at all from the faithful Brendan Smith fans. Last year Smith played good for a stretch which roped us into overpaying him. He was decent (never great) for Detroit, but this year a different player. Maybe he can’t handle playing in New York with the pressure of his new contract, I don’t know., Holden, on the other hand, has had flashes of being good last year and this,, but overall, has been to inconsistent.

    • You can argue the pros and cons of the Smith signing, but thing no one can argue is that he does leave it out on the ice. Stupid plays and all.

  • Its going to be difficult for this team to show consistency and put together 60 minutes of high quality play when you have Holden+Kampfer in the linuep together, as well as a bottom 6 that includes Carey, Holland, DD, Fast, Letteri and Vesey.

  • I’ve always been a big fan of the KZB line. Every time AV has broken it up for reasons other than injury, I have shaken my head. With that said, NZB is looking pretty damn good so far; real hard to deny that. It’s not just the goals, but their all-around play has been just superb. The chemistry seems off the charts. If it keeps up – even at just like 75% of the level of success they have had so far, because this crazy level seems unsustainable – I don’t see how you can break that line up, even if Kreider comes back sooner than expected.

    There are a ton of questions right now, obviously, with two injured forwards and the question of whether the Rangers will be buyers, sellers, or sit pat at the deadline. However, let’s assume that if they are in a playoff spot or close, they will not sell. Let’s assume they sit pat for this exercise (although I don’t know as they will, since they have some cap space to play with, and that is probably burning a hole in Slats/Gorton’s pockets). Let’s also assume Hayes will be back soon, but Kreider not so much. Last but not least, I am also taking the liberty of Andersson being available soon and the team giving him a shot (I know, seems unlikely, but I’ve seen enough of DD, personally…he just doesn’t bring enough to the table unless he is surrounded by our top tier wingers). I think these are the lines I’d like to see in that scenario, maybe say a week or two out from now:


    I liked Boo plenty in the 4C role, but I have really liked Holland’s game so far. Short sample, sure, but I haven’t really noticed an actual problem with him yet through two games. Simple approach, steady, good physicality, no major mistakes that I’ve noticed. He also seems to have the right attitude, again a small sample based on a couple times they put the mic in his face so far.

    Carey, despite my eye rolls and groans earlier in the season when he was getting the chances I thought others should have been given (and still would contend was the case, but I digress), has taken a while to “blossom”, but has rounded out into being pretty responsible defensively and a little offense thrown in. I could take him or Nieves as the spare forward, really. But AV seems to prefer Carey obviously, so I’ll leave him on the roster.

    As for Andersson, the kid was clearly crushed that Sweden couldn’t get it done in the WJCs. While his medal toss was certainly an overreaction and hopefully someone spoke to him about it in no uncertain terms to reel that type of stuff in, it also was a tangible level of passion to win that it seems the Rangers could use a an injection of. Like any young player, he would make mistakes if called up…but his upside is much higher than Desharnais. At the least, I think it’s a push, but much higher chance of reward than continuing on with DD. It could be a real big confidence booster for Andersson to get called up to the show as soon as he is healthy also, not to mention help him get his mind off the WJCs and Sweden and focus on something bigger. And, we can see what he has. If he looks subpar for a handful of games, so be it. DD will still be available.

    To be fully clear, I do not think these lines will happen. Not at all. I especially don’t think AV would sign off on DD being sent down without a fight, for starters. But in a fantasy approach, I would love to see how those forward lines would work out for a solid two-week audition.

    • I don’t see how you can break that line up, even if Kreider comes back sooner than expected.

      It’s in the tinkerer’s DNA, that’s why!

      Great post, as your usual……..

  • The delay of game, puck over the glass will happen. I guarantee Smith was the one who felt the worse. His team simply didn’t bail him out.
    It really was such a generic game last night. Hockey is not what it used to be. I used to be glued to my TV during Rangers games, eh not so much anymore. Gonna go see the Rangers live against the Kings. Hopefully they will play a fun game. I have yet to walk out of a game, don’t make it another 1st.

    No matter what, this team has to go into sell mode. Real fans understand this and will still support the team. It will only be the fair weather fans and those who get their seats via the corporations that may become no shows.

    The Rangers have too many glaring problems to be considered as a high odd team to win the playoffs. Build the team and build it right. Start now.

    • Personally, I can forgive Smith for his penalties (which honestly, I do not think are a long term issue…last night was a stinker, for sure, but it’s not like he does that every other game or something) more than I can forgive Holden for his chronic mental lapses at exactly the worst times. Granted, Holden shouldn’t be out there as often as he is in those key moments, so that in of itself is not his fault. Penalties COULD lead to goals against, and unfortunately, in Smith’s case, one penalty did result in a goal against…however, mental lapses DIRECTLY lead to goals against at a higher frequency, in my opinion. We will see how AV responds; if Smith is out next game, it would not shock me, though. That’s how AV’s sliding scale of accountability can be at times.

  • Shatty done for season. Torn meniscus. Surgery will happen.

    That still doesn’t explain Cattenacci, though…hmmm.

  • Agree, FB. This performance had L written all over it from the 10 min mark on. Glad they got the win, but where the heck is the you know what from our Blueshirts?

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