Despite my New Year’s Resolution to stay off Twitter during games (I mentioned this on the podcast, have you listened and subscribed yet?), I just can’t seem to help myself. However, Tyler has given me the ability to tackle tonight’s game thoughts post, which will help keep my attention diverted from that hellscape. Thanks Tyler!

  • Becky and I are part of a group text with some friends where each person submits a guess of who will score the first Rangers goal before each game. Tonight’s picks: Kreider, Fox, Kakko, Zibanejad and Panarin. Does anyone else do anything like this, or are we weirdos?
  • 6:36 PM ET: News breaks that Kaapo Kakko will start the game on the fourth line. Surely fan reaction will be reasonable and measured.
  • Jack Eichel plays on a line with Jimmy Vesey. Jimmy Vesey has 7 goals. How?
  • I was thinking to myself, “They really need to get to the first TV timeout without giving up a goal.” Welp, that didn’t happen. The KZB line and Staal-DeAngelo pairing got caught on a long shift and were able to clear, but only to center ice. Zemgus Girgensons came back on a quick counter and scored after a nifty move around a tired Staal and prone Georgiev.
  • This has been a bad start against a bad team that played last night.
  • The Rangers rebounded nicely in the second half of the period, similarly to Wednesday night vs. Toronto, except they haven’t been able to find the game-tying goal.
  • And just as the Rangers really start buzzing, the horn sounds to end the first period. Shucks!
  • Just learned that Larry David is at MSG tonight. Forget the game, we all win. Also, I’m no TV critic, but trust me when I say the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is excellent.
  • Fancy stats update after 1 (5v5):
    • Shot attempts: NYR 15, BUF 14
    • Scoring chances: NYR 5, BUF 5
    • High-danger chances: NYR 2, BUF 2
    • Expected goals: NYR 0.41, BUF 0.33
    • Summary: even period, but slight edge to the Rangers, who played better after a slow start.
  • Panarin is the only one with a clue offensively in the second period, so far. He is really flying tonight, though.
  • What do we think of Phil Di Giuseppe’s game? He seems like a really useful bottom six player, which makes the Brendan Smith as a forward thing that much more perplexing.
  • Adam Fox has totally locked down Jack Eichel tonight. Incredible to see, especially from a guy who was supposed to struggle defensively at the NHL level.
  • First great save of the game by either team… Georgiev comes up huge with a stop on Reinhart while the Rangers are killing the first penalty of the game.
  • David Quinn finally reunites Kakko with Chytil (Di Giuseppe on the other wing), and that line immediately creates several chances. BUT…
  • A Ryan Lindgren turnover leads to a Sam Reinhart breakaway, who roofs a backhander over Georgiev. This game is starting to take on a very ominous feel.
  • Kaapo Kakko, now back on the fourth line, with a second consecutive strong shift, including an incredible between-the-legs dangle to create a chance. It’ll be interesting to see if Quinn elevates him for the third period.
  • Fancy stats update after 2 (5v5):
    • Shot attempts: NYR 36, BUF 39
    • Scoring chances: NYR 17, BUF 14
    • High-danger chances: NYR 5, BUF 3
    • Expected goals: NYR 1.18, BUF 0.85
    • Summary: the Rangers continue to defend relatively well, but struggle to create offense at even strength.
  • The Rangers’ playoff hopes were already slim, but a loss tonight would be a death blow. The Rangers need to play at about a 1.5 point per game pace the rest of the way, meaning they needed at least 6 (if not 7) points on this four-game homestand. A loss here dashes those hopes.
  • Zibanejad draws a penalty with a nice rush to the net. Enormous power play here.
  • The power play created several good chances, but was unable to score. The momentum carried over, led by another strong Kaapo Kakko shift. The kid has been a beast and has earned more ice in this third period.
  • Looks like Quinn has loaded up his top line: Panarin/Zibanejad/Kreider. Fun!
  • Carter Hutton has made several good saves in this period, and his puck-handling has disrupted the Rangers’ forecheck all night. Would be great if the Rangers adjusted away from that with some soft dump-ins to the corner, but alas.
  •  LOL Jimmy Vesey just scored on a partial breakaway. Come on.
    • Alexandar Georgiev really needs to come up with a save there. Other than the save on Reinhart earlier in this game, this has been a pedestrian outing from the Ranger goalie.
  • What a pass by Artemi Panarin, living up to his “Spotlight Night” billing. Mika Zibanejad finally gets the Rangers on the board, but it’s likely too little, too late.
  • Rangers with a 4F/1D lineup on the ice. Now that’s awesome.
  • Kaapo Kakko draws a penalty with 1:59 left. This game remains interesting…
  • And the Rangers score! Kreider bangs home a rebound off a lightning quick rush up the ice and it’s 3-2!
  • Unfortunately it was indeed too little too late.
  • Final fancy stats:
    • Shot attempts: NYR 58, BUF 51
    • Scoring chances: NYR 32, BUF 20
    • High-danger chances: NYR 16, BUF 7
    • Expected goals: NYR 2.64, BUF 1.32
    • Summary: By the numbers, the Rangers deserved a better fate tonight, but they really didn’t test Hutton until the third period. Below-average goaltending continues to victimize the Blueshirts.

This was a game the Rangers absolutely had to have, and it’s one of their most disappointing and deflating losses since the rebuild began. The pitfalls of the three-goalie rotation are starting to rear their ugly head as well.

Leave your own hot takes in the comments below, and thanks again to Tyler for letting me take the wheel tonight. We’ll see you on Sunday, when the Rangers host the LA Kings at 6:00 PM ET.


Mentioned in this article:

More About: