Hockey season is upon us, and for New York Rangers fans, it’s another year to wonder if anything will really change. They’ve been a little busy since before last season ended. They fired some people and hired some people and made their way through a draft. Throughout this span of time, there have been trades to obtain pieces that the front office believes fit their vision of what the Rangers should be. This season, there have been happy, excited, and unhappy players (i.e., Vitali Kravtsov). But, everyone is geared up to play some hockey.
They hired Gerard Gallant as the head coach to head up this “turning over a new leaf”. While fans were excited to have him leading the way for the Rangers, there’s the little fact that he hasn’t stayed very long at a few head coaching positions. Think Florida Panthers and Vegas Knights. Ryan Reaves has been lauded for his adroit defense of his teammates and certainly was a selling feature for Chris Drury. Gotta have that toughness. Thanks much, Tom Wilson.
The Curious Case of Vitali Kravtsov
Yet again, the 9th overall pick of the 2018 draft didn’t make the cut. The Rangers wanted him to go to Hartford, and Kravtsov didn’t want to. It’s similar to what happened last season. When he didn’t make the team last year, he decided to go back to Russia and play there. This year he can’t do that, and so the Rangers gave his agent permission to seek a trade.
Who’s at fault? Ask someone, and you’ll get a variety of answers, although most believe the Rangers organization shoulders a lot of the blame. However, Kravtsov seems to feel he belongs on the ice with the team. Maybe he does. There are better ways for both sides to act in this situation. Right now, neither one appears to be blinking. Both sides need to work it out as soon as possible.
The Return of the King
It was great seeing Henrik Lundqvist back, even if it was on television for MSG’s Rangers coverage. He’ll be in the studio for about 20 games this season. From what we’ve seen so far, his insight into what the goalie was doing and breaking it down was terrific. All of his answers were well thought out and insightful. I suspect that he just might become a regular fixture in the studio if it’s the direction he would like to take in his retirement.
New York Rangers @ Washington Capitals
October 13, 2021
Capital One Arena
Everyone watching this game was waiting with bated breath for the fight of the century, but they were out of luck. There were a few skirmishes here and there, but there was no Reaves vs. Wilson. So at least everyone was able to see Ovechkin grab a couple of goals to move into fifth all-time on the scoring list. The Capitals were in it to win it, and the Rangers seemed to be playing hesitantly. Were they afraid? No. However, it appeared they themselves were waiting for a fight that never materialized. Wilson was living rent-free in the Rangers’ minds, and it showed.
The Rangers had a difficult time with creating any offense, which led to only one goal and idiotic decisions. Think penalties. The Rangers took a lot of unnecessary penalties, and three out of five of the goals Washington put in the net were power-play goals. The Rangers let the Capitals dictate the terms of the game, and they went along with it. Chalk it up to nerves or anticipation of the fight of the century, but the Rangers didn’t look like a hockey team ready to play.
New York Rangers vs. Dallas Stars
October 14, 2021
Madison Square Garden
01:38-Heiskanen & Jamie Benn
This was a game the Rangers should have won, but they didn’t. They definitely were looking better on the ice than they did against the Capitals. They started very slow and didn’t really pick up until the second period. There should have been a few more goals; however, it wasn’t meant to be with Braden Holtby in net for the Stars. The third period was back and forth between the teams, with the goalies making great saves. Holtby was injured in the third, so Anton Khudobin came in and blocked all six shots he faced from the Rangers. Overtime was not so great for the Rangers. Panarin was stripped of the puck by a couple of Stars, allowing Heiskanen to have the breakaway. He dumped the puck over Igor Shesterkin‘s shoulder. Game over.
New York Rangers @ Montreal Canadiens
October 16, 2021
Going into this game, one of the teams would get their first win of the season. Luckily the Rangers were able to capture the win. Lafreniere got not only his first goal of the year, but it was the game-winning goal. Kreider got this third goal of the season and has a nice little streak going. Hopefully, it’ll continue for a while. The Rangers still seemed to be in a pass-first mode during the power plays. It’s been a point of contention for a while now and still seems to be going on this season. Despite that, they were able to come out the victor. Unfortunately, Kakko was injured and has been placed on IR, and the Rangers have called up Morgan Barron from Hartford.
What We Learned This Week
Rangers fans are still lamenting about moves the front office has made, how players have been treated, or how a particular player doesn’t deserve to be on any line because they suck. Pick your reason, and there’s a great chance they’re worrying about it. The fans are never happy, and a player always ends up being the whipping boy for all the troubles the team experiences. It’s a new season, filled with new problems to resolve and a new style of play to become accustomed to. The Rangers, despite the losses, do look considerably better when you compare them to last season. However, success takes hard work, and change doesn’t happen overnight.
Follow Liz Pendergraft on Twitter @lizzibear824
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