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Rangers Vs. Blues: Nothing But Positives

Notes from the Rangers shootout loss to the Blues.

Look at this picture. Not many players make Hagelin look big.
Look at this picture. Not many players make Hagelin look big.
Bruce Bennett

- Before we do anything, allow me to officially introduce Adam Herman to the website. If you didn't see yesterday, I brought him in after Kevin retired from the NYRBlog. Adam's a fantastic writer who has done a lot of really great work. The place I think he's going to shine the most here, however, is going to be his vast knowledge and coverage of the Rangers prospects. We admittedly don't do enough of that in this space and Adam is going to change that. Really excited to have him on board. He'll write about other stuff, too, of course.

- That's another game where you look at the final result and you might feel a little bad the Rangers couldn't grab that second point. But you know what? That's a hell of an effort from the Rangers. Without Henrik Lundqvist, Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Boyle, Kevin Klein and John Moore the Rangers dominated for some stretches and really should have won the game. The Rangers had just about every chance in overtime. They got a little unlucky. It happens.

- The more important takeaway is just how good this team is going to be at full strength. My word. Stepan and Boyle alone should make a massive difference, let alone the rest of the defense. The Blues are really, really good; don't undersell that when you look at Monday night's result.

Rick Nash's pass to Martin St. Louis for his second goal? You could marry that pass. You could also marry Carl Hagelin's pass to St. Louis for his first goal. Nash was a monster. He's been a monster all year. Hit the post in overtime. just missed on an awesome wrap around in overtime.

- Hagelin might actually be the most undervalued Ranger in terms of the people who look at goals an assists. He plays tough matchups, is great in his own zone, forechecks like a demon and does have offense you don't get to see as much because of how he's deployed. Anyone who doesn't appreciate Hagelin should watch that pass on a loop over and over again. Not many players can do that.

- And, of course, good for St. Louis to finally pot a couple of goals. He's been a little snakebitten, but I think a lot of him not scoring at the pace he wants to (he still has eight points in 11 games) more has to do with him being at center most of those 11 games than anything else. He's an offensive force, he really is. Those two goals might not be the toughest finishes; but he's in the right area of the ice to finish. That's half the battle.

- Another great game from Chris Kreider, who ended the night with one goal but really could have had three or four. That play where he took two strides to create his own breakaway shows how friggin fast he is. He's a special player.

- I said this after the Jets game but I'll say it again: Anyone else think John Moore might not be in the starting lineup when everyone is healthy. Matt Hunwick has made a fantastic impression so far, and was great again last night. He's got a sneaky offensive side to his game as well.

- He gets a lot of flack, but Dan Girardi has been spectacular for the Rangers through all these injuries. Marc Staal has picked up his game as well. And for what it's worth, Girardi is always in the lineup night after night doing his job. That's worth something.

- I thought overall Dylan McIlrath played OK. When Vladimir Tarasenko waltzed past Michael Kostka's slide tackle (not sure what the strategy was there) and got around Nash's stick check McIlrath got caught flat-footed and couldn't catch up to him. Now, that's a highlight reel goal by a fantastic player, but McIlrath needs to be better at reading that play and keeping his feet moving. I did think McIlrath had a few good moments, he's big enough to rub guys off the puck along the boards (which he did) and he's tough and fought (which actually did him more harm than good, I thought).

- Yesterday a lot of you yelled at me for this story on how this might be McIlrath's last shot with the Rangers. He played just over eight minutes last night; by far the lowest on the team for defensemen. Some of that was the Rangers power plays and his five-minute major for fighting, but his total should have been higher than that if he's trusted. I really don't think Vigneault is high on him.

- Conor Allen looked good, I thought. And was out on the power play in overtime.

- Really good game from Kevin Hayes all around. I liked Anthony Duclair (when he played), too. There's something I can't figure out about the way Alain Vigneault uses Duclair. In close games -- where the Rangers need offense -- he "loses" him on the bench. That happened Monday night until the midway point in the third when Duclair started playing a little. Then Duclair played with less than two minutes to go in a tie game and then he played in overtime. It makes no sense. Why not play him the entire period if you're going to trust him late in the game? And Vigneault kindof should, since Duclair was fantastic in his own zone in the QMJHL. In 11 minutes he had an assist on the power play and saw just 1:27 with the man advantage. Hayes, for what it's worth, played over 14 minutes, had six shots on net and three hits. He was a force.

- Hayes sort of looks like he's figuring it out at center. And if he does he's going to be a jackpot strike for Glen Sather and the Rangers. Duclair already is a jackpot but whatever. Hayes has two points in eight games but has been much better than those totals indicate. Duclair has six points in nine games and has also been better than those totals indicate.

- So Stepan might be back on Wednesday (read: might). Boyle might be back, too. The Rangers are fun now, imagine when they get the full band back together?