Game Wrap-ups

Igor Shesterkin(g) steals one for the Rangers against Buffalo

The New York Rangers had no business winning tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. None. But Igor Shesterkin decided they would win, and he simply stole two points for the Rangers tonight. There are very few who watched this game that would think otherwise. The Rangers came out flat for 20 minutes, with perhaps a flash of effort here and there. Meanwhile it was Shesterkin making multiple difficult saves to keep the game tied.

Luckily for the Rangers, they showed up in the third period after trading chances in the second. The big saves from Shesterkin still game, but the Rangers got a goal and found some effort. That effort also drew a pair of late penalties against Buffalo. The Rangers didn’t convert on the 5-on-3, but they got one on the 5-on-4 a few seconds later. That wound up being the dagger.

The win was a big one, but to be blunt, a better team smokes the Rangers with how they showed up tonight.

Rangers 1, Sabres 0 – Juking Miller

The Kid Line and K’Andre Miller did a good job here to keep possession in the zone, with Miller making a little juke at the blue line to get the puck deep. Eventually after a broken play, the puck wound up on Brendan Smith’s stick and he decided to let it rip. Jacob Bryson provided the screen.

Sabres 1, Rangers 1 – Bad timing

Bad late penalty. Bad turnover. Ending with bad recovery. Right before the goal, the Rangers had one guy back with four Sabres at the hash marks or below. The Rangers should have been much more conservative with eight seconds left on the clock.

Rangers 2, Sabres 1 – Big save, big goal

A big save by Igor Shesterkin (and Ryan Lindgren) kept the game tied. Then the Rangers turned it, with Ryan Strome in on the forecheck to get the puck behind the net. Alexis Lafreniere camped out in front, and what a rip from him.

Rangers 3, Sabres 1 – Powerplay puck movement

What a display this powerplay put on. The Rangers didn’t get the 5-on-3 goal, but they hit a pair of posts instead. Just as we thought the Rangers would look great but not score, Chris Kreider made a fantastic backhand pass through the crease to Mika Zibanejad.

Shot Heatmap – What happened to defense?

I get the Rangers are missing Jacob Trouba, but this is an awful defensive showing against a bad team. That’s a deep shade of blue for all those attempts Buffalo got from in front. It’s clear Shesterkin stole this one for the Rangers.

Skater Results – Bad fun

This is a lot of bad and a lot of fun. Meaning the Rangers were either trading chances or flat out bad. Another sign Shesterkin stole this for the Rangers.

The Rangers were not given any favors tonight, as Boston topped PIttsburgh. Like I said, making up points with so few games left is virtually impossible. But that’s ok. Technically they can catch the Isles, but that is also very unlikely. Stress free hockey for the last three seasons has been fun for me. I’ve enjoyed the hockey, even if there were some concerns. But that all ends next year.

Charts from Natural Stat Trick and Evolving-Hockey.

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  • Hajek challenge leads to D cascade failure as Ziba jumps above the hash to challenge (and fail) as well. Time and space should’ve been their friend, but the put a cigarette out on his forehead.

  • Kind of felt like roughly 75% of the games of the past 15 years or so when Hank would stand on his head and steal one that they didn’t deserve to win. Igor is terrific and is just going to get better. A worthy successor to the King.

    This team is still young and learning how to win. The fact that they are even in this spot, despite all the adversity (as was mentioned on the last page, losing Panarin for a lengthy stretch, Mika ineffective for half the season, the Trainwreck Tony meltdown). Despite it all they have a shot. To me that’s a huge achievement for this season.

    One could easily argue that Putin cost the Rangers a playoff spot. Who would have predicted that at the start of the year?!

    • Shesterkin posting a .922 save percentage this season playing in front of a inexperienced shaky defence. It’s been several years since a starter Ranger goalie has posted that kind of number.

  • And suddenly, once again the Islanders are catchable. Gigantic next two games. Rangers have to significantly raise their game (says Captain Obvious!)

  • What we have been seeing from Alexis Lafrenière the last couple of games is that the kid has good hands and is beginning to use his size to assert himself around the net too.

    • The young kids need to have the confidence to be assertive and the assertiveness to be confident — they have the skill. That may sound trite, but it’s true. A good coaching staff would promote the former to get the latter.

      #FreeKravtsov
      #DemoteBlackwell

    • plus he’s using his shot more which imo is one of his best weapons. its just a really heavy snap shot which you saw tonight a few times and one for a goal.

  • Dodged a bullet on this one. Couple of thoughts:
    Shesty is a beast. Let’s sign him long term!
    Laffy finally looking like the #1 pick. Really good to see
    Smith steps up big time in this one. I’ve been lamenting his contract for 3 1/2 years, who knew…but he’s making a pretty strong argument to be the “vet” they sign in the offseason (just not for $4 mil please)

    Otherwise this was a no-show they can’t afford at this time of year. Seems like that was the biggest lesson here, maybe an important one.

    Yes, I suppose now the Isles are now within reach, but looking forward we get the Caps and Bruins while they get the Sabers and Devils…
    Still, we now have 2 more meaningful games against a playoff built team. Let’s hope they show a little more than the last one. These next 2 can potentially be real growth games.

    BTW, where was Kravtsov? 8+ minutes…? Looks like another of our good young players zests “lost”. Maybe he didn’t stand out like he has since he arrived, but I didn’t see any reason to bench him like that

  • Yes this game was Shesterkin and Smith to the rescue but that brings up the question of what goalie will be in net for the Islanders game? Does Quinn keep riding him or use Georgiev the Islander killer? I would say use Georgie as he’s already in the Islanders heads.
    IMO, it was a lucky win against the Sabres last night but they will need to hold fast to their defensive structure to beat the Islanders. The entire season may rest on winning this game.

  • The Rangers are the only NHL team with five players over 44 points: Panarin, Fox, Buchnevich, Zibanejad, and Strome. They are also the only team with 4 different players scoring 17 or more goals (Kreider, Zibanejad, Panarin, Buchnevich). Their starting goalie is rocking a .922 SV%. One of their defensemen may win the Norris.

    And yet they have only won 26 of 50 games played, and are fighting for their playoff lives. Is there any more proof needed that this coach has done this team in? These players have overcome a lot of mental stress this year, too bad the coach couldn’t help them out more.

    • The coach didn’t cause the Panarin scandal, the coach didn’t give Ziby Covid that impacted his poor 1st half of the season. Come on, they are the youngest team in the NHL and the coach is doing a fine job putting the kids in a position to succeed. They have been one of the top teams in the NHL over the last 6 weeks. Give him some credit & enjoy the ride.

      • This team has done better this year without the coach than with him. The stats speak for themselves.

        Imagine what prioritizing Lafreniére from day 1 this year might’ve brought to this team, or if Jack Johnson didn’t play from day 1. Imagine if Quinn had successfully established Igor from day 1 instead of jumping back and forth between him and Georgiev. Instead of staggering out of the gate, the Rangers might’ve withstood Zibby’s horrendous start to the season.

        A 56-game season shows a lot about a coach. And a team that scores as much as NYR does in conjunction with top 10-15 goaltending should’ve easily won 5 more games than they have this year. Instead of showing smarts, this yahoo of a coach keeps doing stuff like putting an overmatched Colin Blackwell on the 2nd line.

  • Another nice connection between Strome and Laf. It’s frustrating that Quinn wouldn’t use a portion of this season to take a look at a Strome-Laf pairing, while giving Chytil-Panarin a try.

  • Shesty pulled this out for us, no doubt. Seemed like we were treading water for 45 minutes.

    Chytil was invisible, but Kreider at least was noticeable out there. The PP1 still gets too much time.

    DQ – would it hurt to sit Howden or Blackwell?

  • From the Lindgren’s interview after the first period:
    “We knew they would come out flying right from the gate…”
    The obvious question, if Rangers team knew that what prevented them to match the opponent’s intensity? It is as much on the coach as the players. But since the entire team can’t be fired, you replace the coach with the one that is capable of motivating the team. Just look at the Knicks.!

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