I am not sure why these New York Rangers continue to have those dreadful first 10-20 minutes out of the gate. There’s plenty of time in www.eraneta.com/cody-eakin-c-1_31.html the first period to easily change the momentum of a game (more on that later, Mr. Kreider!) and nearly did the Rangers in Sunday. This team -- as I’ve said and will continue to say — is talented enough to handle those sleepwalking starts against worse-off teams, but they’re playing with fire to do it consistently. Especially with the brutal upcoming schedule. It just can’t happen, but we’ve been saying that for years.
There’s a lot of fight in this team, though. And if you’re going to blame Alain Vigneault for these lackluster starts (which you can and should) you have to give him credit for the team never panicking (which you can and should). After Michael Grabner scored the game-tying goal just 19 seconds into the third, Sam Gagner put Vancouver up again just 41 seconds later. That’s a back-breaking goal more often than not, especially since the Rangers needed to claw their way back into the game to get it there in the first place. For the Rangers to keep going to the well was good to see. And better that they actually got rewarded for it.
The Rangers still have a major offense problem, though. This week they got saved by Jesper Fast of all people, and Vesey Sunday afternoon, but outside of the power play, the only consistent source of offense at forward is KZB. Everything else is hit or miss, and that’s not a way to consistently win hockey games.
And yet, the power play hasn’t been all that great of late. Part of the reason is because Vigneault (or Scott Arneil) has adjusted Pavel Buchnevich away from the point and into the pivot slot. That’s not a great place for one of your better puck movers. Put Kreider there, who can simply rip shots and isn’t much help at moving the puck, but not Buchenvich.
Speaking of Buchnevich: He was easily one of the Rangers best forwards in this game. The past three or four games he’s gotten glorious chances and has been robbed. The goals are going to come for him. But how in the world does Grabner get a shift over him in overtime? How in the world does Mika Zibanejad only get one shift in overtime? I don’t love it, and that was about as bad an overtime as you can have without losing.
As much as Buchnevich has been good, that entire line works so well together. Kreider actually becomes a passing threat with the two of them because they’re threats to score or get into position to score. He’s benefited by being ignored as everyone worries about Zibanejad and Buchnevich crashing the net, which affords him space. And Zibanejad is good enough that he can make anything work. What a player the Rangers have in him.
Jimmy Vesey is a great depth player. I think he does just enough when he’s not scoring to make you notice him, and every now and again he’s going to pop in a goal or two (as seen Sunday). He’s not a guy who should be playing more than www.goldenknightsproshops.com/jake-bischoff-c-1_20.html the top-six guys, though — Buchnevich included. Paul Carey and David Desharnais didn’t see the ice for most of the game, so it inflated everyone’s ice time, but I do think Vesey gets the benefit of the doubt from the bench boss more often than not.
That Rick Nash pass to Vesey for the game-tying goal is exactly what all the Nash haters don’t talk about when they talk about Nash. The pass form Kevin Hayes to Nash to make that pass? My word.
Henrik Lundqvist — who was brilliant again — apparently talked Vigneault into going second in the shootout. I have no earthly idea why Vigneault (who has the ultimate weapon in Lundqvist) always wants to go first. I guess he wants to be able to have Hank be the hammer at the end, but to me the hammer is having the killer shot to end things. Let Lundqvist put the pressure on them by making early saves.
OK so here’s my thing on momentum: I am a firm believer in momentum in hockey. Always have been. You can literally feel a game shift at times, and that feeling is momentum. During intermission, Chris Kreider — with one of the greatest quotes of all time — mentioned the “hot hand fallacy” and then said he didn’t believe in momentum. But then, he claimed the Rangers needed to “tilt the ice” in their direction. WHICH IS MOMENTUM. Full quote was: “Personally, I don't believe in momentum. Just gotta tilt the ice here, have a better second.” I will fight this fight forever, just so you know. This really has nothing to do with anything, just thought I’d throw in my two cents.
Those are a big two points for the Rangers, who are coming to the start of what’s going to be a difficult series of games. They get Florida and Carolina before going against Pittsburgh, Washington, New Jersey, Dallas, and Ottawa. It’s not going to be the easiest of months in December, so getting these points is critical, no matter how ugly the win might be.