Another game against Buffalo, another game decided by one goal and requiring overtime or shootout. It’s easy to say that we expect better of the Rangers against a fringe playoff team, but the Sabres added Devon Levi in March and he again stole the show for Buffalo. He fills a big hole on a talented team that should be in it next year. The Blueshirts only got a point, but they helped keep that 7/8 seed dance entertaining. And there’s still a chance both the Isles and Penguins miss the playoffs.

Artemi Panarin had himself a game with 2 goals–one being an absolute missile of a one timer off a pass by Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko continues to be a great story and a solid acquisition getting his 21st point in his 30th game as a Ranger. His fit on the line with Panarin and Vincent has made for a fantastic 2nd line. To put this in perspective, both top lines have a 90 point scorer.

Remember those early 2010’s Rangers teams where we were happy if Derek Stepan and Brad Richards each hit 50 points? Man have those times changed.

Alexis Lafreniere, who did not factor into the scoring last night, deserves praise for his second half. He was one of the more frustrating players to watch in the first half, with questions about his work ethic, attitude, generally bad play, and confidence. Those are no longer topics when talking about Lafrenière.

Lafreniere has been a completely different player since the All Star break. His 17 points in 32 games while playing a 3rd line role with limited, if any, powerplay time is very good. He’s also brought an element of grit to the Kid Line with Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil, something they definitely lacked. Early season Lafrenière didn’t look this engaged. Second half Lafreniere has been locked in, a good sign for the playoffs.

Another positive from last night was Igor Shesterkin, who is absolutely ready to go to war in the playoffs. He did just about everything he could to get the second point, but was outdueled by a hot goalie without a true scouting report yet. Wins aren’t really a good goalie stat, but let’s look at his SV% from the last 12 starts: .970, .903, .938, 1.000, .923, .967, .933, .935, .929, .903, 1.000, and .949 (last night).

It’s no secret that a huge reason for any success with the Rangers comes from the play of their goaltender. These save percentages bode well for the Rangers and a long playoff run. If we are talking negatively about the Rangers in May, it’ll be focused on the high priced talent and Shesterkin. As of now, half of that equation seems to be locked in and ready for a long postseason run.


Mentioned in this article:

More About: