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Rangers Vs. Stars: When The Stars Align

Notes from the Rangers win over the Stars.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

This is what happens when we allow Connor to do the recaps. He uses a bunch of celestial puns and now I want to do the same thing. Except Connor is funnier than I am so mine is a sad, sad representation of what a pun shouldn't be. Sigh. At least the Rangers won. Wait, the Rangers won! Let's talk about that!

- After the game Alain Vigneault talked about how this game and the game against the Florida Panthers weren't all that different outside of the score. For the most part, I agree with him. The possession was good (Rangers finished up 42-40 in corsi) and the scoring chance differential was very good (24-16 in regular chances and 14-7 in high danger). I don't think the Rangers were as creative offensively in Florida but I'm not going to complain about Vigneault using advanced stats to his benefit.

- Two big takeaways from this game's offensive outburst:

1) The Rangers got (successfully) rush happy again. Most of the defense did a really good job moving the puck up, and when they didn't fit the bill Nash and company were there to help. Derek Stepan's shorthanded  goal came off a breakaway, the Jayson Megna goal was a 2-on-1, the Rangers had multiple breakaway or odd-man rush attempts. That's the way the Rangers were successful last year, and it's the way they need to be successful now. It just opens the defense up and keeps them on their toes.

2) The top six played like an actual top six, led by Rick Nash who had 3 assists and just a monster +11 in shot differential. Derick Brassard (he got credit for the Stars' own goal) and Mats Zuccarello played well. Stepan had a great game on both ends of the ice. Kevin Hayes, I though, had a really good game, too.

- Speaking of Stepan, he's really needed a game like that. I think the injury threw his point totals off and with everyone getting off to a sluggish start you look at his production and gag a little. But games like this tend to have a way of becoming the foundation for a nice little stretch. Let's hope that's the case here, because as much as Stepan needed a game like that the Rangers have needed Stepan to have a game like that more.

I laced Vigneault up about not only inserting Jayson Megna into the lineup, but also giving him a top-six blessing and some power play time (Megna's 1:53 on the power play last night is more than Etem has seen all year). So give him credit, because Megna delivered and Vigneault pressed the right button. I'm still not convinced Emerson Etem can't be as useful if given the same chances, but Megna had a goal and an assist and didn't really look out of place at all. Good for him to have such a nice NHL showing his first day on Broadway.

- In a game where the Rangers were so possession oriented (only eight players had a negative possession figure and only three were below a -3) Dan Girardi led the way with a -10 in shot differential. At this point I have to assume Vigneault just doesn't see him as an issue (he played more than anyone not named Ryan McDonagh) and while I don't remember him having a particularly bad game via the eye test, he and Tanner Glass were the only two Rangers to have a negative scoring chance differential.

- The third line (that Kevin Hayes - Oscar Lindberg - ?) line looked a lot better with J.T. Miller on it than Jesper Fast. Although I don't really have a complaint about any of those four. Miller had an assist and was a -7 in shots (but he also had just 12% offensive zone starts so those numbers are pretty damn good).

- Keith Yandle scored a goal (maybe that will keep people quiet about him for a while) and Kevin Klein had two assists from the blue line. Girardi also had an assist.

- For a guy who had a rough December I thought Henrik Lundqvist made some enormous saves.

- The Rangers needed a win like that. Dallas is a very good team with some lethal firepower in their offense. I don't think the Rangers fully shut the door -- if that goal to make things 5-3 isn't offside we might be singing a different tune right now -- but they certainly didn't sit back when they had the lead.