It’s been an interesting week in Rangerland. The Rangers won, Henrik Lundqvist is still The King. Artemi Panarin is as advertised. The kids, the ones who play at least, are improving. But the Rangers still get caved in regularly. As per usual, I have my thoughts.
1. Last night, Lundqvist stopped 45 of 47. The night before, he stopped 35 of 36. That’s 80 of 83 for a .964 SV%. He faced a 3.51 xGA from Carolina (allowed two) and a 1.95 xGA from Detroit (allowed one). To explain that, the Blueshirts, all things created equal, should have given up 5.5 goals in those two games. Because of Lundqvist, it was only 3 goals against. Vintage Hank.
2. I do like that veterans are being held accountable for their poor play. Marc Staal and Brady Skjei have been healthy scratches. What I don’t get is why some of the kids who are clearly playing poorly, Libor Hajek and Brett Howden, don’t get scratched. It’s not a vendetta, it’s that they aren’t playing well. But what do I know?
3. I can’t have been the only one who laughed when Lias Andersson deflected the Sebastian Aho goal last night. Lias’ first of the season is surely to get him benched next game. I’m being facetious, but it was the first thing that crossed my mind.
4. There’s a lot of talk about how Jacob Trouba needs to be better. And yes, that is true. He’s been struggling while adjusting to whatever system this is. He’s also been saddled with the zombiefied corpse of Brady Skjei and Hajek for most of his time. Trouba should be good enough to drag them around at some point, but yikes those top pairings have been bad. The need for a true 1LD is very apparent.
5. How about that Ryan Strome? His underlying numbers are still awful, but he’s able to keep up with Artemi Panarin. That works for me. The rub on Strome was that he couldn’t create on his own. But if he can do this consistently with Panarin without dragging down his production, then so be it.
6. If Strome continues to produce with Panarin, I guess we will see Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich reunited, bumping Filip Chytil to the third line with Brendan Lemieux and Kaapo Kakko? Where does that put Lias Andersson and Brett Howden? Something to watch as Zibanejad gets healthy.