I think the Rangers confidence is back. Since the promotion of Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko to the top line, and some other minor line juggles by the head coach, the Rangers have found their confidence. That top line is buzzing, and looks like a reincarnation of the GAG line. Under no circumstances can Gallant tinker with it, it operated at an 86.28 xGF% per Natural Stat Trick.
This was a tremendous hockey game. About all that you could legitimately complain about were the costly penalties in the second period when the score was only 1-0 at the time. They allowed Vegas to tie the game while attempting to kill off a 5-on-3. Even without weapons such as Jack Eichel and Alex Pietrangelo, you cannot sleep on this Vegas team while they’re up on the man advantage. It was also a goal where Igor had no chance to make the save.
Perhaps you could also complain about Vitali Kravtsov being scratched despite a strong game and a win on Monday night, simply to make room for another Barclay Goodrow appearance in the top six. But that’s a story for another day.
It was a humbling goal for Ryan Lindgren, who obliterated Mark Stone in front of the net prior and caused the Rangers to go down two men. Beat out your man in front, but you can’t crosscheck him in the ribs. Mental lapses happen, and with Lindgren they are few and far between.
Igor Shesterkin was brilliant in this one as well. Making 25 saves, his most important period was the second as the Golden Knights had a good flurry of offense putting up 17 shots in the period. He stopped all but the aforementioned power play goal. It’s a captain obvious statement, but if the Rangers are going to turn this season around after their last month or so of hockey, they need Igor to be Igor, and the sum of their parts to be firing.
This win was a great example of what all facets of the Rangers game firing on all cylinders looks like. A pair of power play goals and another 3 at 5v5 is the offense we expect from this team. That’s the Rangers of last season, when the Rangers confidence and vibes were sky high.
As an aside, it’s always helpful for your goaltender when you lock it down defensively like the Rangers did in the 3rd period. Igor only saw 4 shots that period. Can’t blow leads when you only allow four shots.
The Rangers confidence is a helluva drug, ain’t it?