- Start with the man of the hour, Derick Brassard. Notched a career-high five points (two goals and three assists) to help the Rangers get a much-needed win after the disaster that was Sunday's matinee in Ottawa. Brassard hasn't had the best of years, and I think he knows that as well as anyone. He's been a relatively consistent source of offense for the Rangers and has been getting a little better as we've gotten deeper into the season. Playing that well without Rick Nash is good to see, too.
- The Rangers had a pretty bad first period and then bounced back nicely. They were slightly behind in raw corsi (I'm sure the final half of the third had something to do with that), but were even in scoring chances and high-danger chances. Buffalo isn't very good, so this isn't exactly something to be thrilled about, but it's better than losing.
- Dylan McIlrath, the guy who can't get into the lineup unless there's a major injury or Vigneault finds a reason to sit Dan Boyle, had another spectacular game. Imagine what his career arc would be looking like right now if he was actually given a chance to develop consistently this year? You know, instead of sitting. Had an assist that is currently his goal (I still think the NHL will change it to Miller's goal, eventually) and had himself a great overall game. He led the Rangers (tied with Keith Yandle) with a +9 shot differential. Why isn't he playing every night again? Crickets, because Vigneault won't answer the question (if it's even be asked).
- That fourth line sure is ...something. Daniel Paille led the way in worst-corsi again (-9), followed by Tanner Glass (-8) and Dominic Moore (-7). Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, by the way, came in right with them. Girardi's corsi was the highest of the group at 33% for, but he still was -8 in shot differential. I'm not sure the evidence can be looking the Rangers in the face any harder.
- After the game Alain Vigneault talked about how teams have to play their top players and their top players have to be their best. A reminder that being paid like a top player doesn't make someone an actual top player.
- That sure doesn't stop Vigneault from using the fourth line like it's 2014, though. After a goal for or against? They're out there. The Rangers just got their lunch handed to them a few shifts in a row? That line goes out there. Paille and Glass put up those horrendous numbers with 66% offensive zone starts, by the way. So they're taking starts away from more skilled players and still drowning with the life jacket anyway.
AV said he liked how Rangers responded after Sabres tied game at 3 "after Hank (Lundqvist) had been just average."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) January 26, 2016
- Maybe he's only talking about the first goal against (which Lundqvist absolutely has to have) but either way I think it's an unnecessary comment. Especially with the fourth line and two of his top defenseman drowning. We've talked about this lack of accountability before, but at some point Vigneault needs to explain what his thinking really is.
- J.T. Miller continues to blossom. Scored a goal (or maybe two) and played a really good overall game for the Rangers. Even when the team was struggling in the first period he was noticeable in a good way. Now that Vigneault has removed the shackles from his feet when he makes mistakes, Miller seems far more eager to get involved and try to make things happen. Which he's had success with.
- Zuccarello scored a beautiful goal off an even prettier feed by Derek Stepan (who has quietly put up six points in six games) for a big goal to really push the game out of reach. Then, in his continued wisdom and kindness, Zuccarello gave us potentially the greatest gif of all time:
Extended director's cut edition pic.twitter.com/9M7scITKQV— Ryan Ohanesian (@ryanohan) January 26, 2016
Live in it. Love it.
- The Rangers will have some questions to answer coming out of the break. There's no doubt Vigneault will, at the very least, give McIlrath another game at the expense of Boyle, even though others should be sitting. Still, try to be positive heading into the break.