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Rangers Vs. Predators: An Enormous Win

Notes from the Rangers win over the Predators.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

- First of all, I want to extend a big thank you to everyone who visited the site the past couple of days. Sunday was the best single-day in site history in terms of traffic, and Sunday and Monday combined to the best two days in site history. We also had nearly 4,000 comments between the two days, when the next best site on SB Nation was around 500. That's incredible. So thanks to everyone for your continued support of this space on the Internet and our coverage of the Rangers. Believe me when I tell you it's very much appreciated.

- As for the game, that's an enormous win over a very, very good team. I'm not sure it was enough of a litmus test to really see how Keith Yandle is going to improve the team, but at first blush Alain Vigneault was really able to level out the playing time of his defense. Ryan McDonagh played just 22 minutes and that was a team high. No other defenseman played less than 17:49 (Dan Boyle). That's exactly the type of distribution you need to keep your back line fresh for the second season.

- To finish off with Yandle: He was obviously a little uncomfortable with a new system and a new team, which is to be expected. The Rangers had a single power play in the game and Yandle played all two minutes of it, so you can already see how much Vigneault really needed a more consistent quarterback on the back end. Even in a single game, though, you can see how quick Yandle is with the puck. His vision and passing are top notch, and he was really good at finding the open man in space.

- I will say, though, I did like both Boyle and Yandle on the back end of the power play. Yandle is more of a pass first guy and Boyle has always been good at moving himself into position to shoot. They're two different forces out there and opposing penalty kills won't be able to pressure up top as easily as they have before. I am kind of looking forward to that pair with the man advantage.

- Mats Zuccarello pretty much proved why everyone was panicking about him potentially being traded. In his news conference to talk about the moves Glen Sather sort of admitted he wasn't really going to trade Zuccarello, but who knows what actually would have happened if the two sides went nuclear. Anyway, Zuccarello is here for four more years and thank goodness he is. That pass on the Chris Kreider goal? Maybe three other guys on the Rangers could pull that off. Zuccarello finished the game with two assists.

- Derick Brassard also notched two assists and has reached the 50-point plateau for the first time in his career. Brassard's previous career high was 47 points with the Blue Jackets a few years back. What I'm trying to say is Brassard has rewarded Sather with his leap of faith to sign him to a big five-year deal this past summer. And he's seemingly getting better which is a really good thing. The Rangers are a much better team when Brassard is on his game.

- Cam Talbot had his best game of the Henrik Lundqvist-less stretch. What a series of saves he made the final 30 minutes, after not being busy at all the first 30. And maybe the upgraded defense helps, but he was really good all night.

- Marc Staal doesn't get enough credit for how funny he is. I was listening to the game on the radio between periods because I had to run to the food store and Staal talked about how Brassard's pass could have been to him Zuccarello or Rick Nash on the game's opening goal and Staal decided it was meant for him because he was the best goal scorer of the bunch. That's laugh out loud funny already, and Staal's dry delivery was spectacular. Plus he had a really good game and scored a goal, so he was good on the ice, too.

- Another radio note: Listening to the pre-game Dave Maloney talked about how the Rangers fourth line last year never got the credit it deserved. I guess he doesn't read Blueshirt Banter.

- The third line had another really solid game, although they didn't play as much as you would expect. I loved J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes together, and that duo is big and fast and a nightmare in the corners for opposing teams. As much as I'm devastated by the loss of Anthony Duclair, I'm really happy the Rangers kept Miller. I think he can be something they will really like.

- Tanner Glass has a two-game point streak and might have played his best game of the year last night. You read that last sentence correctly. However, James Sheppard better be in the lineup the next game. No matter how good Glass is (and last night is probably him at his best) he is not good enough to be iced on a team fighting for the Stanley Cup.

- First in the Metro again. Thoughts?