brendan smith chris kreider kaapo kakko

Ryan Strome was quoted that the Rangers do sometimes shoot for quality over quantity. It can sometimes be amazing, and sometimes be brutal. Tonight was the former, as quality shots and hot shooting led to a quartet of goals in the first period. Two were the result of turnovers, and two were with the Rangers on the powerplay. That was only half the offense, as the Rangers piled it on in the third to seal the deal, including another powerplay goal.

The kid line scored twice. Second liner Colin Blackwell scored once. The top line scored a bunch. And the Rangers got two big points as they try to stay relevant. After tonight, the Rangers likely need to go 13-4-1 or 14-4 to make the playoffs. That means more wins like this are needed. Adam Fox for Norris.

That said, the Rangers were brutal in the neutral zone today. Aside from the first goal, I don’t think I saw them challenge or pressure the neutral zone at all. It led directly to one goal against and many chances. I know Vally explained the triangles and the cutoff being the top of the circle, but if the defense doesn’t angle properly, taking away space, it leads to sustained pressure against. I’d love to see that aspect of the Rangers’ defensive game change.

Rangers 1, Pens 0 – Neutral zone turnover

Pressure in the neutral zone will always be one of the most important aspects of winning a hockey game. It forces turnovers, it stifles the rush, it limits speed. This time it forced a turnover, and Colin Blackwell created his own luck with a pass that went in off a Penguin. Too bad this was the only time the Rangers made a good play in the neutral zone.

Rangers 2, Pens 0 – Go zone turnover

Another popular spot for turnovers is between the blue line and the top of the circle in the defensive zone. Sidney Crosby turned it over, forcing him to be a defenseman on a rush. Pavel Buchnevich took advantage and drove the net for the first chance. He drew three Penguins to him while Mika Zibanejad trailed the play behind Bryan Rust, grabbing the rebound goal.

Rangers 3, Pens 0 – The Panarin spot?

Powerplay faceoff win. Chris Kreider in front. Artemi Panarin has an elite shot. The Rangers powerplay is a tad streaky, no?

Rangers 3, Pens 1 – Triple screen

Jared McCann put one through three screens after a clean faceoff win by Crosby. It looked like this one changed direction slightly off Adam Fox.

Rangers 4, Pens 1 – It’s a powerplay goal!

Two Royal Road passes, Kreider in front again. Ryan Strome gets it. Another Rangers powerplay goal.

Rangers 5, Pens 1 – Lafreniere is good

Alexis Lafreniere collected the rebound off the Filip Chytil, but realized he didn’t have a clear look. He waited out Casey DeSmith, tucking the puck in from behind and off a pair of Penguins. Don’t discount what Kaapo Kakko did hear to shield the puck before dishing to Chytil for the initial attempt. Set the whole thing up.

Rangers 5, Pens 2 – No puck possession

The Rangers couldn’t retain possession in the offensive zone, then backed off in the neutral zone, and the puck wound up in their net.

Rangers 6, Pens 2 – Kakko doing the little things again

Kaapo Kakko doubters are eating crow watching this one. After doing the little things right on the Lafreniere goal, he did the little things right on his own goal. He retrieved the puck in the corner with the man advantage, got it to the point, and then went straight to the net for the deflection. This made the Rangers powerplay three for three.

Rangers 6, Penguins 3 – Icing and tired legs

This is all about matchups. The Rangers were tired after a long shift and an icing. Mike Sullivan put out his top line, and they beat the Rangers everywhere, leading to the Jake Guentzel goal. This isn’t a breakdown so much as it is a good coaching move. Couldn’t find a video of this one.

Rangers 7, Pens 3 – The dagger

Mika Zibanejad fended off a pair of Penguins while shorthanded, including forcing the turnover. Adam Fox read the play, cut to the slot, got the pass, and finished.

Rangers 8, Pens 3 – Out of the box, in the net

Libor Hajek broke up a play in the defensive zone, and Buchnevich, out of the box, picked up the puck and turned it. Pretty passing, but no one picked up Buchnevich after he moved the puck up the ice. Two Penguins went to Chytil, and Buch was wide open.

Rangers 8, Penguins 4 – Just a good play

The Penguins came in, and Radim Zohorna got taken down by K’Andre Miller, but protected the puck and forced the pass to Brian Dumoulin, who scored. The Penguins stopped videoing the goals at this point.

Shot Heatmap – Penguins got the chances

I know the score was 8-3, but did you watch this game and think the Rangers spent most of their time in the offensive zone? Me neither. This is also at even strength, when the Rangers did most of their damage on the powerplay.

Skater Results – Expected, all things given

Listen, the Penguins spent most of this game in the offensive zone. I don’t think anyone will argue that. When this happens, you see skater results like this. Hot shooting and the powerplay got things done tonight for the Rangers.

An offensive outburst like this is always fun, but it is also a little smoke and mirrors. This was not a good process game, but you can’t really complain when you put up eight goals. The Rangers need to tighten things up in the next game. Pittsburgh is too good to lose like this twice in a row.


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