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Rangers Vs. Sharks: OK, That Win You Can Be Excited About

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Notes from the Rangers win over the Sharks.

Alex Goodlett

- Let's start with what's most important about last night: A debt that must be paid. And like a Lannister, a Fortunato always pays his debts. If you have no earthly idea what I'm talking about:

Well, Kevin Hayes scored his first career goal last night. Color changes are coming to the site -- support was e-mailed last night -- and as soon as today all rec'd comments will turn blue rather than green. Kind of funny that everyone wanted this since every single change this site has gone through has been met with pitchforks and revolts. I'm glad we're growing as a people. Anyway, onto the game!

- It's funny but the two best games the New York Rangers have played all year have been against their toughest opponents. Until last night, the win over the St. Louis Blues to open the year was the Rangers best performance. Sunday night? Best game of the year top to bottom.

- While the defense is still going to have its problems until Dan Boyle returns, the group looked like they figured a few things out last night. A dominant Henrik Lundqvist helps a lot -- as does Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh finally playing like the top pairing -- but I thought John Moore, Matt Hunwick and even Kevin Klein looked miles better last night than they have in the past. That's nice to see.

- I've seen a lot of people talk about how Rick Nash looks like a different player this year. To me he just looks healthy -- something he's actually cited when talking about his hot start. Seven goals in six games (he leads the NHL) and a single assist to give him the most Rick Nash scoreline ever (7 goals, 1 assist and 8 points. The goal he scored was a perfect example of what Nash has been all year: a monster. He sped through a seam, had the defenseman hearing footsteps after the puck was misplayed and poked the puck through the five hold. Nothing fancy, just a drive straight to the net. Couple that with his defense and physicality and I just keep laughing at all the people who wanted to trade him last year who have to pick their jaws up off the floor when he's protecting the puck and cycling in the offensive zone.

- I mentioned Hayes above. The kid scored his first career goal after a dominant night. He isn't as good a skater or as fast as Chris Kreider (so few are) but he's an exceptional skater for his size. He had a goal, four shots, five hits, one giveaway and three takeaways. He was the one Ranger who struggled at the dot (he only won 36% of his draws) but aside from that he was a monster. That game is the potential I saw from him in the preseason. If he puts everything together -- especially if he figures it out at center -- he's going to be so, so special.

- Kreider had a great bounce back game after that Carolina disaster, no? Martin St. Louis (a goal) looked far more visible in the offensive zone back on the wing.

- Dominic Moore had two assists and a few big defensive plays. Carl Hagelin -- who is so much more important to this team outside of goals and assists -- had a monster effort goal to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

- Alain Vigneault scratched Anthony Duclair because he wanted to see what the lineup would look like with four natural centers. Here are the winning percentages from the dot: Chris Mueller 89% (I believe he went 8-1), Derick Brassard 81%, Moore 83%. They dominated the Sharks on the dot, and it helped them both in their own zone and to control play in the offensive zone. That was nice to see.

- Since we're talking about him, I'm not sure how Vigneault is going to get him back in the lineup, but I would be shocked if Duclair was sent down. I think he's done too much for the Rangers to give up on him. Remember, sending him down is a one-way street. They can't bring him back.

- Ryan Malone looked OK again. I think he's a really good fourth line player for the Rangers who should see some power play time to sit in front of the net. Outside of that, I don't see him taking a bigger role at all. But he is a big body who isn't afraid to jump in and cause some trouble.

- I met with Tony and 50 (I'm sure the picture is coming) between periods. While there we talked about making this a thing. I'll try and find a way to coordinate it, but after the first period Tony and 50 hold court on the second level at the C gate stairs. It's cool to meet everyone in person. Apparently Moshe was there last game. So if you're going to the games let Tony know and if I'm there I'll come too. I have to ask permission, though, since Tony and 50 are king of the castle over there. But it is a lot of fun.

Thoughts on this, guys?