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Rangers Vs. Blackhawks: Downing The Champs In Their House

Notes from the Rangers win over the Blackhawks.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

- Since Oscar Lindberg didn't waste any time opening up his New York Rangers bank account with a first shot of the year goal he gets to kick off the first real notes of the year. I'm sure he's very proud. There were moments Wednesday night where Lindberg was the Rangers best forward at both ends of the ice. I joked that I wasn't sure if that was a good or a bad thing. He scored the opening goal -- off an outstanding feed from J.T. Miller -- and then got stoned on another fantastic chance. On defense he was a monster, forcing turnovers and helping clean up some messes on the defensive side. Remember when he wasn't a lock to make the team?

- As for Miller, he was easily the best forward in terms of offense. Two assists and a wealth of opportunities created with his vision. I named Miller most likely to break out for a reason, the kid has all the tools and is finally being given the opportunity to put them all together. That pass to Lindberg was awesome; the pass to Keith Yandle for the Kevin Klein goal was just as good.

- You score goals in the NHL in chaos, which is exactly what the Kevin Hayes - Derek Stepan - Chris Kreider line creates. Kreider was a monster the entire game -- he did seem a hair off in terms of accuracy, if he hits the net more he could have scored a few last night -- and helped set up the game winning goal with his speed. Hayes, for all that talk about his bad preseason, made a really smart play by not panicking and flipping the puck back in front when he saw Corey Crawford out of his net. Stepan calmly finished the chance, and the Rangers needed that goal to walk away with two points. That could be some group.

- That line and the Viktor Stalberg - Lindberg - Miller line were incredible. So much good stuff going on with all of them. Stalberg's speed helped a lot when the Rangers shelled in the third, forcing a turnover and a faceoff in the other end. Those moments are sometimes unseen but they are enormous.

- Dan Girardi? Woof. In a word: Woof. I believe he had a 26% corsi. That's not a typo. The no-pressure giveaway to give Chicago life is something that should see a rookie benched let alone a guy making $5.5-million a year. Shortly after the goal -- which woke Chicago up, by the way -- he panicked in the corner and threw a puck into Dominic Moore's stomach which he couldn't handle that allowed Chicago another extended shift in the Rangers end. That can't happen. His diving panic at the end of the game helped Chicago nearly tie it with a minute left, too. The defense is going to be a problem for the Rangers in a lot of ways, but if Girardi can't at least get to his normal level it's going to be a really big problem.

- I love healthy Yandle. That pass to Klein on his goal? Beautiful. Getting into the physical side of the game and bruising Andrew Shaw in front of the net? Awesome.

- I still think the Rangers need to move Klein and his salary, but good for him for scoring a goal. He got lucky thanks to the deflection, but it was a needed goal and he moved to the right area of the ice to do it. That's not a knock on him, by the way, Klein looks to shoot and you can't get those breaks without actually, you know, shooting.

- I'm wondering if they didn't stop playing because they thought it was going to be an icing, but Dan Boyle was not even in the picture on Chicago's first goal and Marc Staal decided the guy at the boards was more dangerous than the guy in front of the net. Bad all around.

- Boyle, by the way, didn't have a horrible game but has to shake off some rust. A few defensive mistakes but was good in the other zone. That off the boards pass to make a 3-on-2 a 2-on-1 to Jesper Fast is the type of play you can't script. You need to see it in your head and have the skill to execute it on the ice. He makes the Rangers more dangerous all around.

- I didn't notice Rick Nash too much. Nor did I notice Derick Brassard. Mats Zuccarello was the best of the three and he wasn't that visible either.

- This fourth line isn't ideal, but it's so much better than last year's fourth line. Jarret Stoll actually had a pretty good game considering his preseason and he helped spring Moore for a chance to make it 4-2 deep in the third. His faceoffs -- which was like his main attribute and all anyone could talk about -- didn't really come through. 17% at the dot and lost a few crucial defensive zone draws towards the end of the third.

- Still, it's amazing having four competent lines. And if the Rangers are going to shell themselves in the third they need that.

- Oh and Henrik Lundqvist, of course. My word is he dialed in. The Rangers needed him down the stretch, but he really took care of business ... as usual.

- On the no goal. When the puck was under Lundqvist's pads you could see the official moving to blow the whistle because the play was dead. I don't know if Patrick Kane pushed Lundqvist's pads in order to move the puck or if it was loose and he knocked it in but it was under his pads for a second or two and I've seen quicker whistles than that. The play is not up for review, by the way, so the official told the situation room he was going to blow the play dead before the puck went into the net and they told him play has to stand. It's the right call. I know opposing fans are reading this thinking "of course he would say that" but honestly, it's the right call. I really do try to be objective.

Thoughts? It's nice to grab the first win of the season against a team like that. Good for confidence and a good stepping stone to kick things off.