It’s been a strange week of highs and lows for the New York Rangers. Several players ended up o the Covid-19 list at the beginning of the week, which eventually bled over into the coaching staff, falling victim to the same protocol. Also, we learned that Jack Johnson would be sidelined for the remainder of the season after undergoing core-muscle repair surgery this past Friday. He had just cleared waivers earlier in the week after getting assigned to the taxi squad.
Throw in a hat trick for fun, and it’s been a typical week for the boys in blue.
New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Madison Square Garden – March 15, 2021
This game was a heartbreaker for the Rangers, losing in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4. Adam Fox, Pavel Buchnevich, and Phil Di Giuseppe were all placed on the Covid-19 protocol and did not play in the game.
The game started off in the Flyers’ favor, but the Rangers attempted to claw their way back and almost snatched the win.
The first period belonged to the Flyers. Goals by James Van Riemsdyk and Ivan Provorov, less than six minutes into the game, gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead. The rest of the period went by with the Flyers not only holding the Rangers scoreless but holding them to just six shots on goal.
The second period arrived, and it seemed that the Rangers had a little fight in them. Artemi Panarin kicked off the Rangers’ scoring with a bit of help from Tarmo Reunanen and Ryan Strome. A few minutes later, Colin Blackwell tied the game 2-2. The assists were credited to Panarin and Brendan Smith. Julien Gauthier, along with Filip Chytil and Panarin, gave the Rangers their first lead of the game. Joel Farabee tied the game back up 3-3 as he netted a power-play goal for the Flyers, thanks to a hi-sticking penalty by Gauthier.
Kevin Rooney came along in the third period to give the Rangers their lead back, with the assists going to Brendan Lemieux and Brett Howden. Less than three minutes later, the Flyers had tied the game again on Claude Giroux‘s goal. Kevin Hayes, a former forward for the Rangers, netted a goal that would have given the Flyers the lead with almost five minutes left. However, the Rangers’ bench successfully challenged the ruling for offside, negating the power-play goal. This decision left the game tied at 4-4 at the end of regulation play, and it was time for 3-on-3 overtime hockey.
Overtime would find each team making only one shot on goal, but the Flyers made theirs worthwhile, getting the game-winning goal off the stick of Jakub Voracek.
New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Madison Square Garden – March 17, 2021
Rangers fans woke up only to find their world in a state of chaos thanks to the NHL’s Covid-19 Protocols. They had Fox and Buchnevich back, but coach David Quinn and assistants Jacques Martin, David Oliver, and Greg Brown found themselves having to sit out. The decision was made to bring in replacements from the Rangers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Hartford Wolfpack.
Kris Knoblauch, head coach for the Wolfpack, and assistant coach Gord Murphy were brought in along with Rangers associate general manager Chris Drury. Knoblauch was tapped as the acting coach, while Murphy and Drury were listed as the assistants. Having previous NHL coaching experience, both Knoblauch and Murphy, at one point both were assistant coaches for the Flyers organization. Knoblauch was there from 2017-19, and Murphy was there from 2014-18.
Despite the previous game being a nailbiter, this game should be titled “The Rangers Show,” and what a show it was. Six different Rangers scored nine goals in a 9-0 shutout of the Flyers. Mika Zibanejad was able to show off his talent by way of a natural hat trick.
Here’s a list of all nine Rangers goals.
- 07:05-Lemieux, Fox and Howden
- 14:47-Panarin, Strome
- 01:38-Buchnevich, Zibanejad
- 03:38-Buchnevich, Jacob Trouba, Zibanejad
- 08:27-Zibanejad (unassisted)
- 14:29-Zibanejad, Panarin, Strome
- 18:37-Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Strome
- 19:39-Chytil, Libor Hajek, Alexis Lafreniere
There were no goals in the third period.
Overall, the Flyers had more attempted shots, but the Rangers had more on goal. By the end of the second period, going into the third, it was easy to see that the Flyers appeared to have given up on the game. Losing 9-0 will do that to you.
New York Rangers at Washington Capitals
Capital One Arena – March 19, 2021
This is the game that the Rangers seemed to do what they are best at, which is losing a game after dominating and keeping the other team at bay. It was a disappointing 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals because the Rangers were the better team for most of the game. However, the two goals by Alex Ovechkin were the nails in the coffin the Rangers were buried in.
Panarin got the Rangers on the board in the first period, assisted by Strome and Fox. After that, there were quite a few chances wasted or not taken advantage of. The Rangers were playing a good defensive game, but they weren’t creating anything on the offense. That usually doesn’t bode well for the Rangers.
It took until the third period for Washington to capitalize on the Ranger’s lack of offense. Ovechkin got on the board to tie it 1-1 with a little less than seven minutes left in the third. About three minutes later, he put another one in to make it 2-1, and it would be the game-winning goal for the Capitals.
After the Flyers’ huge shutout, it was a letdown to have worked harder in this game and come up short.
New York Rangers at Washington
Capitals Capital One Arena – March 21, 2021
For a while, it looked like this game was a repeat of the night before. With Igor Shesterkin still sidelined from a groin injury, Keith Kinkaid got the nod to start in net. He had a strong performance, which went along nicely with the defensive performance the Rangers offered up.
The Rangers got on board first late in the first with a goal by Buchnevich. The assists were credited to Fox and Zibanejad.
There was much back and forth between the two teams in the second, but no one scored. The Rangers outshot the Capitals, but nothing came of it. Neither team appeared to make much progress on the offensive side of the puck.
Then John Carlson scored a little over five minutes into the third. One could almost hear Rangers fans collectively saying, “Here we go again.” However, the Rangers held the Capitals off long enough for Zibanejad to score late in the third to put the Rangers back up 2-1. Approximately two minutes later, Howden’s empty-net goal was the icing on the cake, with the assists going to Strome and Buchnevich.
The Rangers pulled off in this game what they should have also done in the previous one.
The Roller-Coaster Line Starts Over There
Get on board while you can because it’s been another wishy-washy week for the Rangers. They give fans and those around the NHL a glimpse of what they could be and will be once they more experience and confidence. Reaching the playoffs is a pipe dream at the moment unless the Rangers catch fire the latter part of this season like they did last season before everything shut down. There’s so much potential, and everyone can see it.
But do the players see it?
What’s Up Next
Knoblauch will maintain his status as acting head coach for at least two more games, which will put him behind the bench for Monday’s game at home against the Buffalo Sabres and the first game at the Flyers on Thursday. It’s unknown if he will be behind the bench for Saturday’s game against the Flyers.
Follow Liz Pendergraft on Twitter @lizzibear824
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