Rangers recap: Rangers Jets

The Rangers can’t win them all, especially with this ridiculous schedule. The Blueshirts, playing their 6th game in 9 days, played their tails off but couldn’t beat Connor Hellebuyck and the Winnipeg Jets. While there were a few milestone goals, Alex Wennberg’s first as a Ranger and Alexis Lafrenière’s 20th of he season, it wasn’t enough.

The game definitely lived up the hype though of a goalie duel especially during the first period. As a different side note as well, we got to see the debut of Brian Boyle in-between the benches and he was an absolute gem all night long adding great commentary to what was going on at ice level. That should be a permanent role for him.

Winnipeg opened the scoring in the second period off a couple of flukey bounces and a whiffed shot. The Rangers were chasing a bit on the shift with a turnover at the blue line, but the goal itself was the result of a bouncing puck and a whiffed shot that messed with Igor Shesterkin’s timing. With Hellebuyck in net, the first goal gave Winnipeg the advantage they needed.

Playing in his 700th NHL game, Alex Wennberg was the beneficiary of a lucky rebound off a Lafrenière shot, as the Rangers second power play unit tied the game. It was Wennberg’s first as a Ranger, finally getting on the board after meshing so well on the third line. The tie game didn’t last long, as Winnipeg got two more in quick succession before the second period was over, giving them a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.

Mark Scheifele’s hat trick was enough for the Jets, but Hellebuyck deserves a ton of credit for keeping the Jets in the game, stopping 38 of 40 shots and keeping the Rangers potent offense at bay. Winnipeg did play strong defense, as many of the shots were low danger, making things a bit easier for Hellebuyck, and the combination frustrated the Blueshirts.

A loss is a loss, and they do happen, so let’s focus more on some positives. Alexis Lafrenière has really made strides this season, and while he may not be the elite level star many had hoped, he’s showing he’s a bonafide top-six player who is not a passenger to stars. His skating adjustments and improvements are evident in his emergence as well.

With more ice time, specifically powerplay time, Lafreniere could peak at a point per game pace for a few seasons, and will likely wind up being in that 60 point range for most of his career. It’s not Connor McDavid production, but it’s still solid top-six production. He’s looking like he’s a keeper.

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