Rangers musings: Mika Zibanejad has been freed from top shutdown matchups.

Another Rangers playoff-like masterclass from the drop of the puck to the final buzzer, this time against the offseason  Cup winners New Jersey Devils. It was another solid two-way, three zone effort throughout with some great saves along the way by the resurgent Jonathan Quick.

One of the main stories was an embarrassing ploy by the Devils to try and stage a fight with newly acquired Kurtis MacDermid. He played just 3:44 last night did nothing but chase Matt Rempe around trying to goad him into fighting.

Travis Green should be ashamed of himself as a head coach wasting a roster spot for that kind of role in this game. The Devils were playing like they were already mathematically eliminated from the post-season; they in fact, are not. Well, here’s that loss I guess you wanted Travis. Hope it’ll help in your interview later for the real job and not the interim one!

Something of substance that did happen involving Rempe, and a lesson he needs to learn fast, is he cannot get the elbows up when initiating contact going for hits. He’s 6-foot-8-inches, even tucking his elbow is going to look like a hit to the head. He needs to adjust his hitting form, or he’s going to become a detriment on the ice pretty quickly. Hopefully Jonas Siegenthaler is ok.

The rest of Rempe’s game is fine. Raw, but fine. In fact, he has already begun doing goalie screens and helped Erik Gustafsson score a goal from the blue line after some hard work from the 4th line. Rempe has shown in 10 games he can play hockey, and has the ethic to be extremely coachable. He will learn, or he will spend too much time in the penalty box or suspended to be an impact player.

As for the rest of the game, Mika Zibanejad scored a 5 on 5 goal for the first time since December. It was his 20th goal of the year, and due in large part to a solid breakout by Zac Jones  and Jack Roslovic. Mika has been a major topic of conversation lately for bad reasons, and it looks like the Roslovic addition was the perfect one.

Adding Roslovic’s speed to Kreider’s on the wing is forcing the defenders to cheat to one, leaving Mika open and able to get his shots off at long last. Mika March appears to have been a little delayed, but maybe gets extended to Mika May this year.

As an aside, I absolutely despise the offsides challenge. It seems Pandora’s box with this review, and now we are calling back beautiful goals where players are an 1/8th of an inch offside. Offside is offside, it’s just getting a little ridiculous. Fans should get to celebrate goals, that’s what they pay for.

Of course, the beauty of a goal from Artemi Panarin with possibly the best pass we’ve ever seen from Alexis Lafreniere was called back. We will never be rid of this review unfortunately–we are too far along with it–but man, could we please stop taking goals off the board over a matter of centimeters of ice? Maybe it’s an unpopular opinion, but it’s detracting from the game.

That’s two strong games from the Rangers coming out of the trade deadline. It’s a rough schedule this week, so banking points early before getting into games 3, 4, and 5 in 7 nights is critical. Another win tonight in Carolina would just be great.


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