It isn't often that we get to see as many highlight reel goals as we saw two days ago when the Rangers went into Colorado and won 6-3 after letting the Avs get back into the game. The Blueshirts' lack of killer instinct and issues with consistency once again reared their ugly regenerating Hydra-like heads, but the Rangers' offense bailed them out in a big way. So how is that top-ten offense doing? It's been on an absolute tear this month. The Rangers have 25 goals in the six games they have played in February, including 11 goals in their last two games on the road. They have only scored less than 3 goals in one game, their 3-2 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars on February 8th.
Anyway, let's get to the pretty goals and see which one you guys thought was the best! Happy Valentine's Day to those of who you celebrate it and happy eat-chinese-food-and-listen-to-the-Cure day to those of you who won't be doing any smiling or kissing today.
1. The Kid to the Old Man
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This was the first goal of the game and it is also probably my favorite. Thanks to an atrociously timed line change by Colorado and quick thinking by captain Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Hayes and Dan Boyle found themselves in the zone with time and space and only Jan Hejda between them and Semyon Varlamov. Hayes, who had a monster of a game, simply slides the puck past Hejda and sends Dan Boyle in on Varlamov. At first I thought it was a saucer pass, but on second glance Hayes simply puts the puck where it has to go with a smooth, crisp feed that set up Boyle perfectly. It takes a hell of a lot of confidence and balls to make that kind of pass in that situation. The only thing better than the pass might be Dan Boyle's goal! Did you think the old man still had moves like that?
2. Kevin Hayes' Coast to Coast Beauty
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Is this a move we would have seen from Hayes at the beginning of the season? Absolutely not. It's easy to point to Hayes atrocious season on the faceoff dot and get on him for being too unselfish at times, but the way he has been playing recently should erase any and all doubts about just how special he is and could be. Watch Hayes dip the shoulder to protect the puck and get around Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie. After getting past Barrie it is just a matter ofHayes' wingspan against Semyon Varlamov. Hayes tucks it past Varlamov with ease and registers his 8th goal of the season and his second point of the night just 1:47 into the second period.
I think we should all put a post-it on this game when we want to remember just what kind of impact Hayes can have on this team not only in the near future but in the present. What a steal it was to get him this offseason.
3. Reunited and it Feels so Good
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Watch the entire play and how quickly and smoothly the Rangers get up the ice. Zuke, from his hands and knees, gets the puck to Derick Brassard and then Brassard quickly moves it over to Rick Nash in the middle of the ice. Matt Hunwick, Brassard, and Rick Nash charge up the ice and Mats Zuccarello trails the play. Nash gains the zone after carrying it up the boards, hits the breaks after gaining the zone, and puts a perfect pass through an open window to give Zuke time and space on the other side of the ice. With a lifted leg, Zuccarello snipes one past Varlamov who, once again, is probably wondering what the hell is defense is doing.
Everything about this play looks and feels right. Hard work in the defensive zone leads to a perfect transition attack that creates a quality scoring chance and a goal.
4. You Want a Goal? I'll Give you a Goal.
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"Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?"
Just as the Colorado Avalanche play-by-play announcer Mike Haynes was commenting that Rick Nash "only" had an assist in the game, Nash decided to make a big play to give the Rangers back their two goal lead and put the game on ice. After being knocked down behind the net by Hejda, Nash gets up just in time to receive a pass from J.T. Miller. After that is all just Nash doing what Nash does; effort, strength, reach, and skill. Nash, while falling to the ice thanks to losing an edge, slides one past Varlamov after Nate Holden gave him a little bit too much room and sophomore Nathan MacKinnon couldn't tie him up in time. This was Rick's 34th goal of the season which puts him one goal ahead of Ovechkin for the league lead in goals.
Kevin Hayes also picked up an assist (his third point of the game) on the Carl Hagelin goal that gave the Rangers the lead back in the third period. That goal was pretty in its own way because of the pass that Hayes made, but I had to draw the line somewhere. Besides, Haggy ruined it by missing on the first attempt and jamming home the rebound. Nice job, Hagelin. Way to tie the game up with a less than perfect goal.
It is amazing just how much a red hot offense can clean up for mistakes and bail a team out of some tight spots, but the Rangers are going to have to start playing with a little bit more discipline in their own zone and do more to prevent odd-man rushes and turnovers, especially while Henrik is on the shelf with his injury. I'm not sure the strategy of "score 3 or more goals and hope the rest works itself out" is going to work out much longer, but I am certainly not complaining about the four points the Blueshirts have earned in the last two road games. Still, winning 5-0 is so much nicer than winning 6-3, isn't it?
Now go watch the Notebook or drink wine on a gondola or something. Vote for your favorite goal and have a safe, happy holiday. The puck drops tonight against the Arizona Coyotes at 8:00 PM. You may now begin the eighty-third discussion about Antoine Vermette being overrated and the asking price being far too high.
Let's go Rangers.