At long last, Jaro Halak has his first win with the New York Rangers. Making 35 of 36 saves, he was a huge part of the much needed victory against the Ottawa Senators. This was a deserved first win in a time where there hasn’t been too many positive stories. Hopefully getting Halak his first win can kindle a run. The game wasn’t the greatest offensive performance by either team, but the Rangers went into Ottawa and beat a team they are supposed to and that’s all that matters in the grand scheme.
Vitali Kravtsov finally made an appearance in the lineup after missing the last 8 games. Slotted on a line with Alexis Lafrenière and Vincent Trocheck, he played fairly well, though the line fell victim to the Rangers shooting woes missed a few opportunities. It’s just one of those years for the Rangers after getting those kinds of bounces the year before.
For Gerard Gallant, the key is avoiding the same mistake with Kravtsov that he made with Vadim Shipachyov in Vegas. There were many concerns that Shipachyov was kept out of the lineup for reasons unknown, and Kravtsov needs to avoid that fate. This is a former 9th overall pick, after all. Even if he isn’t in the plans, you need to figure out what he is. Give him the runway with that Lafrenière and Trocheck line and see what he can do. Maybe even give him Sammy Blais’ ice time on the second power play unit. Just a thought.
On defense, the new defensive pairings ended up each having solid games. Limiting Trouba’s minutes while he hopefully heals from his injury is crucial, and this was a step in the right direction. Like him or not, he’s a key cog in any Rangers playoff run. The one goal against was the result of a poor play by Trouba, and those are going to happen with all defensemen, but getting him going is clearly a need for this team.
Hopefully the new pairings hold, and we see more consistent outings from Trouba in a bit more of a sheltered role. He’s never been an $8 million defenseman, but it’s clear he’s a leader to this team (they did vote him captain, after all). The players need him to be more himself on the ice. We also get to see more of Braden Schneider, to see what else he can give in more minutes. Seems like a win win.
The Rangers need to sweep this home and home with a win on Friday. Let’s hope Gerard Gallant is able to make the adjustments the team will need.