Someone needs to tell the New York Rangers they’re in the wrong line. They’re standing in line for the roller coaster again when the line for the playoffs is to their right. It would behoove the Rangers to be more consistent in their play if they want that playoff chance, but looking over the games played already this season doesn’t give fans much hope.
New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Madison Square Garden – April 6, 2021
If the large wins over the Philadelphia Flyers a few weeks ago didn’t get your attention, perhaps the 8-4 beatdown of the Pittsburgh Penguins will. It started like any game usually does, but it quickly turned into a goal show with eight different players scoring for the Rangers. Igor Shesterkin was indeed the czar in the net, blocking 41 out of 45 shots, and his save percentage was ironically .911. With the Rangers barely eking out goals in the previous two games against the Buffalo Sabres, fans were amazed, speechless, bewildered, and perplexed as they watched the show unfold.
The Rangers have not had great luck against the Penguins all season, losing five of the last six matches against them. They came out swinging, firing on all cylinders, and they never took their foot off the gas pedal.
Here’s a list of the goals scored by both teams:
01:35-NYR: Colin Blackwell, Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba
07:28-NYR: Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich
09:58-NYR: Panarin, Adam Fox, Chris Kreider
10:38-PIT: Jared McCann, Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby
19:42-NYR: Ryan Strome, Panarin, Fox
06:10-NYR: Kakko, Trouba, Blackwell
08:04-PIT: Jake Guentzel, Matheson, Letang
10:22-NYR: Fox, Zibanejad, Strome
10:41-NYR: Buchnevich, Chytil, Panarin
18:36-PIT: Brian Dumoulin, Radim Zohorna, Jankowski
This game gave us at least five very intriguing stats. First, we have the Rangers registering eight or more goals in three different contests in the same season since 1992-93, which had five. Second, Fox is the first Rangers defenseman to tally a point on 11 consecutive power plays, and he’s the second player in the franchise to do so after Red Sullivan in 1958-59. Third, as of this game, Fox was tied with Victor Hedman for the most points by defensemen, with 36. Fourth, Lafreniere’s goal in the second period is the first time since 2016 that three of the Rangers’ own first-round draft picks factored on the same goal. Last but certainly not least, as of this game, Panarin ranks second in the NHL in points per game and assists per game, trailing only Connor McDavid in each category.
New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Madison Square Garden – April 8, 2021
Having laid a beating on the Penguins in the previous game, it was a matter of turn about being fair play in this game. The Penguins laid their own beating on the Rangers with a solid 5-2 win. Having been humiliated in the last game, the Penguins did exactly what people expected, which was to come out flying, and it was their turn not to take their foot off the gas pedal.
Six minutes into the first period, the Penguins caught the Rangers off guard and put the puck past Shesterkin to take a one-goal lead. Zohorna was credited with the goal. Not much else happened in the period, but the Penguins did outshoot the Rangers 13-5. That should have been a warning to the Rangers they need to change up their game.
The second period came, with really more of the same play from both teams. The Penguins looked in control, and the Rangers were struggling to keep up. The Rangers finally got on the board to tie the game on Blackwell’s power-play goal, assisted by Buchnevich and Kakko. A minute later, Letang put the penguins ahead again. A little past midway into the period, the Penguins would add another goal to their basket on Evan Rodrigues‘ goal. The Rangers had a chance to get back in the game due to Cody Ceci‘s penalty on Kreider with about two minutes left. Kreider was awarded a penalty shot but was unable to get the puck past Tristan Jarry.
The third period found the Rangers down 3-1, and it would only show the Rangers weren’t on top of their game. They were outshot again by the penguins, this time 13-9. Jason Zucker put the Penguins up 4-1, getting a goal midway through the period. A few minutes later, Kevin Rooney tried to get the Rangers back in the game with a goal. Fox was credited with the only assist, despite Buchnevich making a good play to get the puck where it needed to be. Fox’s assist gave him another point, making it a 12 game point-scoring streak. Jankowski would put the final nail in the Rangers’ coffin with an empty-net goal, making it a 5-2 game.
It’s interesting to note that the penguins really didn’t change much about their game. The main difference between the two games is that the Rangers didn’t play their best, and they didn’t finish checks. It also didn’t help when the Rangers kept missing open nets, which doesn’t help when they like to pass more than shoot.
New York Rangers at New York Islanders
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum – April 9, 2021
The Rangers went on the road to take on one of the best teams in the division. Their 4-1 decisive win over the New York Islanders showed us a Rangers team we knew was there all along, and they gave the Islanders their second home loss of the season while doing it. After an extended absence from the net, Alexandar Georgiev was given the nod to be the starting goalie and showed that he was sharp and ready to play despite the long layoff.
The first period came and went with nothing too significant happening. The only penalty in the game occurred when Zibanejad was called for boarding against Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Rangers were able to kill off the penalty and the rest of the period went on with the Rangers winning the shots on goal 13-7.
The second period arrived, and the third line, consisting of Lafreniere, Chytil, and Kakko, put the Rangers up 1-0. Blackwell would make it 2-0 about four minutes later, getting fed the puck by Panarin, and Strome also gets credit for an assist. The Islanders almost got a goal by Brock Nelson, but it was called back for being a high stick. About 22 seconds later, with about five minutes left in the period, Andy Greene got one past Georgiev, finally getting the Islanders on the board for a 2-1 game.
It took a little over half the third before a puck was put in the net, but K’Andre Miller was up to the task, getting his fourth game of the season. Trouba and Panarin are credited with the assists, putting the Rangers up 3-1. Keeping the Islanders in check for the rest of the period, the death knell for the Islanders was sounded when Zibanejad lofted the puck over everyone from his own blue line, and it slid into the empty net to make the final score 4-1. With this win, Georgiev is now 7-2 against the Islanders.
New York Rangers at New York Islanders
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum – April 11, 2021
The Rangers needed to build off the previous game against the Islanders and continue to play as well as they did. However, it was clear from the start of the game the Islanders were not playing the same game. They came in, swarming the Rangers with speed and making it look like the Rangers were standing still. Kreider took a delay of game penalty, which then led to a power-play goal by Kyle Palmieri to put the Islanders up 1-0. The Islanders continued to dominate throughout the period, and it was fitting that they were able to add another goal, this time by Pageau, to make it a 2-0 game over the Rangers.
The second period for the Rangers was about the same as the first for a while. The Islanders were still out skating them, there were missed passes, and no matter how many times they put the puck on the net it didn’t go in. Suddenly, midway through the period, Libor Hajek was able to get one in the net to get the Rangers on the board. The assists go to Kakko and Chytil. About two minutes later, Brendan Smith was able to put on in with a little help from Zibanejad and Vitali Kravtsov to make it tied 2-2. This marks Kratsov’s first point of his NHL career. They were able to keep the Islanders from scoring at the last minute as they did in the first.
The Rangers made a stronger push in the third, but they were still either missing shots or getting them on goal and getting stopped by Ilya Sorokin. It continued throughout the game until it was time for overtime. It was still a fight for the puck, and the Islanders won it, getting the game-winning goal by Ryan Pulock a little over a minute into overtime. The Rangers get a point and are still chasing a playoff spot.
What’s Next for the Rangers?
They are facing four games against the New Jersey Devils. They’ll be on the road for an away game before hosting the Devils for two games at home, and the fourth game will be on the road again. The Rangers will have to look to their upcoming games and plan to win, especially if reaching the playoffs is on their to-do list.