Rangers recap: Beating down the Islanders

This was the “agenda” game for the New York Rangers. The Rangers capped a 5 games in 7 nights and 6 games in 9 nights, a schedule which should never happen to any NHL team, laying a beatdown on the New York Islanders, securing 8 of 10 points or 10 of 12 points, depending on which way you look at the recent schedule.

Up front, Will Cuylle scored, Alexis Lafrenière matched his career high in goals, and Kaapo Kakko scored while he’s played some of his best hockey of his career alongside Alex Wennberg. Plus Mika Zibanejad added another 5v5 goal as he continues to click with Jack Roslovic.

On defense, a battered defense at that, Zac Jones is making a case that he should never come out of the lineup, K’Andre Miller is surging in the absence of Jacob Trouba, and Adam Fox is Adam Fox.

Of course, it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, as Ryan Lindgren had to leave the game in the second period with a lower body injury after contact with JG Pageau along the boards. The good news is the Rangers have the depth to manage the loss of another top-four defenseman. But of course, you hope Lindgren is okay.

Mika March rolls on as he had a massive goal to get the team going 27 seconds into the second period. After the Rangers dominated most of the play in the first period, the Islanders were still able to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission thanks to a mistake by Fox and Erik Gustafsson, leading to a shorthanded goal against.  After Zibanejad’s equalizer, the Rangers never looked back.

Credit needs to go to Zac Jones again, as he’s looked great in Trouba’s absence, and his emergence –or perhaps just finally getting extended playing time– allows the Rangers to ease both Trouba and Lindgren back when healthy. His reads, overall elusiveness, and ability to make a great first pass, in small sample, really makes you question whether he’s earned the right to stay in the lineup when everyone is healthy.

Speaking of rookies, how about that Will Cuylle? He is flirting with a 20 goal rookie campaign while being an absolute pest to play against. With the playoffs on the horizon, is Cuylle the next big “16-game player” the Rangers have?

There are a lot of good players on this team, but they need the depth to shine in the playoffs too. Cuylle’s grinding style with skill is what teams need from a postseason player. Right now he appears to be a Chris Kreider-lite, wreaking havoc in front of the net, finishing every check, and scoring both beautiful and greasy goals.

After this fun stretch, the Rangers now play their next 5 games against playoff teams. Another test for the Blueshirts awaits.

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