Rangers Week in Review: A Tale of Two Teamsby Liz Pendergraft January 17, 2021 0 comments
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s no doubt hockey is back. For New York Rangers fans, it’s almost business as usual, with a slow start and inconsistent play from the team. If there was ever a time to wonder, “who are these people in Rangers jerseys, and what is going on?” this opening week was it.
Rangers vs. Islanders Part One
Madison Square Garden
January 14, 2021
Rangers fans were not happy with the performance for opening night at Madison Square Garden. The highly-anticipated comeback of hockey started with a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. It was an ugly start to the season for all the young players on the team. However, they have no one to blame but themselves for their lackluster performance. They looked like the team from last season’s playoffs, and they were outplayed and outmaneuvered by an Islanders team that seemed to pick up where they left off in their playoff run.
Mika Zibanejad had the most opportunities out of all his teammates with five shots on goal, but the luck was all in the Islanders’ favor. Anders Lee had two goals, while Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal both netted a goal each. Despite the scene before them on the ice, the goalies for both teams performed well. Igor Shesterkin let in four goals on 33 shots, a few of which he would probably love to have back, while Semyon Varlamov blocked all 24 shots he faced as he notched his third shutout as an Islander and the 28th of his career.
Maybe opening night nervousness or jitters could be blamed. Still, the Rangers did themselves no favors by coughing up nine penalties for a total of 18 minutes of available power-play time for the Islanders. Hopefully, Coach David Quinn tactfully pointed out they gave their opponent almost a whole period of power-play time and that the Islanders were able to capitalize by getting in two power-play goals.
Rangers vs. Islanders Part Two
Madison Square Garden
January 16, 2021
This second meeting between the two New York teams shows sibling rivalry at its best with its “anything you can do, I can do better” mentality. Not only did the Rangers win, but they gave it back to the Islanders with a decisive 5-0 victory. The Rangers were in control from the beginning and gave the Islanders no chance of coming back. As a bonus, they also spoiled Ilya Sorokin‘s NHL debut. Sorokin was not on the schedule to play, but Varlamov was injured in warmups by a shot from Cal Clutterbuck.
The Islanders did themselves no favors by taking nine penalties, and Artemi Panarin was able to capitalize and get a power-play goal. The Rangers were able to cut theirs down to only four as they played with more self-control than they showed in the previous game.
Pavel Buchnevich made up for having no shots on goal in the previous game by netting two. Panarin also snuck two, while Kaapo Kakko grabbed one for himself. Alexandar Georgiev was able to get his fifth career shutout by making 23 saves against the Islanders. The defense seems to shake off whatever got them down in the first game, coming back to play a smart game of hockey.
Rangers fans might wonder what’s going on with their team, but it’s easy to understand their confusion when it appeared as if two different teams played against the Islanders. If the Rangers continue to improve their play as they did between the two games, they give themselves a chance to make it into the playoffs this season.
Follow Liz Pendergraft on Twitter @lizzibear824
Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images