The Rangers came out strong last night, keeping the game with potential Stanley Cup contender Nashville Predators close for the majority of the game. However The Predators were a little too much for the Blueshirts, pulling away with a 3-1 win. The game was pretty close throughout, as it never felt like the Predators were dominating the Rangers.
Henrik Lundqvist was in midseason form with a strong showing. Pekka Rinne was up for the challenge as well. In the end, it was simply the better team winnng a close game. That is going to happen a lot this year.
Focusing on the positives, the Rangers were strong defensively. Keeping in mind how good Nashville is, they limited a lot of the high quality chances. I can only think of one real Royal Road chance, and Hank got that one. The forecheck was active, albeit not that effective against Nashville’s superb puck movers on the blue line.
In the offensive zone, the Rangers seem to focus a lot on the cycle and sustained pressure. That’s a stark contract to years past, where the Blueshirts were focused on one or two high quality chances before retreating to the defensive zone. I’m intrigued to see how that evolves.
On to the goals.
Preds 1, Rangers 0
This is pretty clear cut. This is the exact moment when Vinni Lettieri and Neal Pionk went to the man cutting to the net. This was a 2-on-2 rush, but Filip Forsberg had all day to tee this up. When you give someone like Forsberg that much time to shoot, he’s going to pick his spot.
Rangers 1, Preds 1
Preds 2, Rangers 1
This was a bit of tough luck, as the refs missed a high stick by Kevin Fiala on Adam McQuaid. The ensuing faceoff was won clean and then PK Subban ripped a beauty over Hank. Hank didn’t see this one, as Kevin Shattenkirk screened him incidentally. The picture captures the moment of the shot, which is when Shatty was crossing in front of Hank. It’s not like Shatty just stood there.
Preds 3, Rangers 1
Colton Scissions empty netter.
Preds 3, Rangers 2
Pavel Buchnevich got on the board, finding empty space in front as Mika Zibanejad wound up for his shot. I thinK ZBad missed his shot, but it went right to Buch who deflected it past Rinne.
With Hockeystats.ca officially offline, I’m going to be introducing different kind of game flow charts.
Game Flow (courtesy of Natural Stat Trick)
Over time, Nashville gained a pretty sizable advantage in terms of game flow from the Rangers. They controlled the pace in longer spurts, especially during the middle of the second period and beginning of the third period. The Rangers had spurts of their own as well, but it was again the longer controlled play of Nashville that proved too much.
Shot Heat Map (courtesy of Natural Stat Trick)
This shows where shots came from. The Blueshirts seem to have a hole on the left side of the ice, both at the net and about 20 feet out. It’s one game, so we shall see if that continues.
As for the Blueshirts, they have an eye for the net. Both goals came from there, as did a good number of chances. It seems their cycle and “triangle” offense will be based around getting pucks in front and working from there.
It’s been a while since we’ve had such a stress free start to the season. The Blueshirts lost, but the game wasn’t filled with mistakes that had us screaming at the TV. It did have one though (how do you have seven men on the ice?). It was a good start, and hopefully this is the kind of team we see all year. They kept it close against one of the best. That’s all you can really ask for right now."Rangers hang tight, eventually fall to Nashville",