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Rangers Vs. Blues: Process Over Results

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NHL: New York Rangers at St. Louis Blues Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
  • Last year I talked about how important the process was when the Rangers were winning game after game despite playing like ... well ... crap. This morning I’m talking about it the other way around. The Rangers dominated that game, to the tune of shutting St. Louis out in shots on net in the third period. You should be thrilled at how well the Rangers played, despite the result.
  • There’s two sides to the Rangers newfound offense. On one hand, they’re clearly capable of taking care of the defensive issues that are going to plague this team. At least 80% of the Rangers offense is being generated from the forwards, even the transition from defense to offense. The other side of this coin is we don’t know whether or not the Rangers will be able to keep that up. Or if other teams will find a way to shut off those transition lanes. We’ll have to see on that, but for now, it’s great to see how good the Rangers offense can be.
  • That said, the Rangers’ speed is a big factor. They’re keeping opposing teams on their heels and are fast enough to get back in the event of mistakes. On the penalty kill speed is a major weapon. Michael Grabner looks like one of the smartest signings of the summer, and no matter who the Rangers put out on the kill they have a speed advantage. It’s a huge weapon they simply didn’t have last year.
  • Mika Zibanejad is a monster. So is Chris Kreider. Both notched a goal and an assist in the game, Zibanejad hit a post and Kreider had a perfect feed from Pavel Buchnevich blockered away at the last moment. That line is ridiculously explosive and they need to stay together forever. Also:
  • Just a note: The Rangers didn’t have a single player in negative cori. Jesper Fast was the lowest at 50%.
  • I thought Jimmy Vesey looked much better Saturday night. Have a glorious chance to tie the game late but had to pull the puck through Rick Nash’s legs and just couldn’t get it high enough. He made a few really nice moves, though, and is a wizard at finding space. He’ll hit the back of the net soon and then the floodgates will open. He finished with a 64% corsi.
  • Nash, by the way, was a monster of monster in this game. He dominated some power moves that had my jaw on the floor.
  • It sucks that Dan Girardi got injured but the reality of the situation is this is going to be a positive because it will force Alain Vigneault to give different looks to the Rangers defense. Both Kevin Klein or Dylan McIlrath is an upgrade, but it won’t last once he gets back. And you never want to see anyone get hurt.
  • In just over five minutes of even strength time Adam Clendening and Ryan McDonagh were a +11 in shot differential. That’s a really impressive figure against a lethal offense — that was admittedly shorthanded, but still. In Girardi’s absence Clendening and Brady Skjei both got alternaring looks on the top pairing. Clendening looked more comfortable but Skjei looked OK.
  • Speaking of Clendening, he was a monster in his own end against St. Louis.
  • Skjei finished the game at 62% corsi. He had a pretty good bounce back game against St. Louis and does seem to be getting more comfortable. That’s a really, really good thing.
  • Ryan McDonagh was also a monster in the game. Led the Rangers in raw shot differential and was once again strong on the puck in the corners and against the walls. Good to see. It also goes without mention that he looked a lot better after Girardi got hurt — especially with Clendening who was able to move the puck in transition.
  • The power play didn’t convert in the third, but it still looked pretty dangerous. I do think the Rangers need to do more work to space out, but Zibanejad has found space in the circle and it does open other lanes up.
  • The Rangers need to remember this game. They need to remember how well they played and continue to fight the way they did in St. Louis Monday. This game was a huge litmus test for the Rangers, and despite the loss, they passed with flying colors.