Where to even begin with the awesomeness of Game 1. First Game 1 win since 2017 in the first round, putting a 6 spot on Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Kid line with another brilliant performance, Igor making 37 saves on 39 shots, the entire top nine contributing offense, Chris Kreider with his 33rd career playoff goal one shy of Rod Gilbert for the franchise lead.
Many a recap this year, I’ve fawned over and spewed my love for this Rangers team, I have loved this group more than I could have ever imagined. It was 2012 when I became a fan, the Rangers went on some pretty deep runs for a number of years, they had a balanced attack, but besides Lundqvist, no one of real Hall of Fame caliber. This trip around the contention window, we are seeing not only multiple all time great Rangers blossom on their first real experience with the postseason, but very well could see 2-3 future all of famers.
What more can you say about the kid line this postseason? All the questions, all of the concerns about how they would respond to the big stage. They have taken those concerns, and thrown them right back into anyone who doubted them.
Filip Chytil is scorching hot right now. Might I say, low key dark horse candidate for the Conn Smythe if he keeps scoring. He is one goal away from matching his regular season totals where he was just so snake bitten, it’s good to watch him not only finally get some freaking rewards, but he’s scoring clutch goals. Between what he did in the Carolina series to tonight’s performance, never a better time for all of the potential to click.
The Lightning are going to respond. As jaw dropping, and fun as this absolute humiliation was, they are back-to-back champs for a reason. They will be super prepared for the next game. Will the Rangers be able to not only ride the momentum wave to a 2-0 series lead?
The Rangers better be ready. Vasilevskiy will more than likely not throw up a .983 save percentage the rest of the way like the previous series, but hopefully the Rangers finishing talent will be able to continue to find the back of the net.
Rangers 1, Lightning 0
The Lightning were rusty to start, and it showed here. A bad pinch, and a bad read by Nikita Kucherov sprung the two-on-one, and Mika Zibanejad faked the shot to open the passing lane. Chris Kreider doesn’t miss from there. Bad read by Zach Bogosian too on the fake shot. He bit real hard.
Rangers 1, Lightning 1
The fourth line against Steven Stamkos got pinned and then caught running around. Stamkos and Erik Cernak played catch with Stamkos beating Shesterkin clean on the one timer from the high slot.
Rangers 2, Lightning 1
This was a bit of a broken play, which benefited the Rangers as Frank Vatrano, fresh off saving a goal with a back check, had all sorts of time and space to tee this up on Vasilevskiy.
Rangers 2, Lightning 2
Ondrej Palat got a step on Artemiy Panarin and he beat Shesterkin off the post. The Rangers were pretty sloppy following both of their goals to this point.
Rangers 3, Lightning 2
Rangers 4, Lightning 2
What. A. Shift.
Rangers 5, Lightning 2
Tampa neutral zone turnover, and then just a beautiful pass from Copp to Panarin.
Rangers 6, Lightning 2
The powerplay unit got one, and it was the usual Zibanejad from Panarin from the spot. When the powerplay moves and forces the penalty kill to move, it’s unstoppable.
One last thought on this one, has Panarin finally shown up in these playoffs? He’s had his moments that will fuel hype videos and memories for generations to come, but with the way Tampa plays structurally, Panarin can be Panarin. He can slow the game down and can make plays.
Whatever looked “off” in the previous two rounds didn’t seem to bother him at all as he ripped a shot past Vasilevskiy effortlessly. If the Rangers have regular season Panarin, to go with everyone else, you bet your bottom dollar this team could very well beat the Lightning. Nine wins down, 7 more to go. Let’s ride folks!