The home opener, no regular season game is better than it. The pomp and circumstance of the player introductions, introducing the coaching staff, an electric anthem, and that first goal that creates a playoff like pop. It never gets old. The game itself had its lulls, but I thought it was a good game for a team still adjusting to this coaching staff’s system.
The pace of the team when they get in a rhythm at even strength is a billion times better than it ever was under Gerard Gallant. I don’t want to bring up the previous staff in every article early on, but it’s the same team as last year with 5 depth pieces, and the star players look like star players again.
Look no further than Chris Kreider, who is as red hot as they come with his third consecutive game with a goal. A beautiful 2-on-1 play with who else but Mika Zibanejad. The chemistry of those two has been well-documented at this point. But it looks like it’s even better with the system Laviolette has put in place.
Kreider’s foot speed is as great as its ever been, and Mika is a severely underrated passer in the game. He made the goalie bite for the shot, and slid the puck over to Kreider for practically an empty net goal for the first home goal of the season. This goal for Kreider also puts him on 4 goals away from passing Andy Bathgate for 4th all time in Rangers goal scoring. We really might be looking at the last player to ever wear #20…
Another point I wanted to bring up was the play of Igor Shesterkin. After a great game in Buffalo and a rather shaky one in Columbus, he responded well stopping 26 of 27 shots thrown at him by the Coyotes. Many of which were pretty good scoring chances. He will get back in the groove, and this is exactly the kind of schedule that is good for Igor to get into his rhythm.
The Rangers schedule has been light to start the season, and will continue to be light for most of October. Only the Sabres have really any hope of playing hockey past the regular season. There’s a lot of skillful players they have played against, but it’s good for Igor to be playing. I would let Jonathan Quick get a crack at the starting net though next game against the Predators. Give Igor the rest before going on the west coast road trip.
And again, how about that Will Cuylle? He has proved he belongs and looks like he is the glue of that third line. He never passes up an opportunity to hit someone, his foot speed is that of a legit NHL player, and he seems to be getting acclimated incredibly well with the play of his line mates.
The trio of Cuylle-Trocheck-Wheeler will score goals in bunches really soon at even strength. They are getting more and more chances with each game that passes, so the chemistry is building. Trocheck did end up getting the game winning goal, but that was off a re-direct high in the slot on the power play. The 3rd line will be a legit scoring threat soon enough. Luckily the top-six is being the top-six right now and is trading off dominant performances each night.