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Rangers Vs. Sharks: The Rangers Almost Rangered But Didn’t

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San Jose Sharks v New York Rangers Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images
  • Yesterday was an interesting development in the “stats vs. eye test” debate. The Rangers got shelled in possession (49-28) but until the final 10 minutes of the third period — more on that later — I thought the Rangers did a really good job keeping the Sharks to the outside and not allowing too much in dangerous areas. Now, the key word when talking about these things is sustainability, and the Rangers couldn’t sustain that type of play for too long. On cue, the Sharks put together a rampant comeback that game a great Antti Raanta save away from tying the game at five. They didn’t, though, and the Rangers walked away with two points.
  • The Rangers are really starting to change my mind about how competitive they can be, even with a lackluster defense. The offense is just so explosive, and even without one of their better transition distributors (yep, Pavel Buchnevich can be talked about like that already) they still created five goals worth of offense (I’m not counting the Mats Zuccarello/J.T. Miller empty net goals into the equation here). They have enough speed to try and force plays on offense and still get back on defense, and they have the firepower to actually propel themselves through stretches like Monday night when it was hard to hold the puck. This isn’t like last year when the Rangers were shooting at an unsustainable clip and were eventually going to regress. This team has the skill to actually produce this much offense.
  • Part of that is the Buchnevich - Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider line, although Buchnevich was replaced by Rick Nash last night. Even so, that group created two goals and a plethora of chances. Nash scored a goal off a pretty set-up by Ryan McDonagh (who had two assists) and Kreider, well ...
  • Kreider has been dominant on a level I think we were all hoping we would eventually see him reach the past three games. There’s nothing more you can say other than whatever he did over the summer worked. He scored a goal that had me yell “oh my God” laying down in bed that scared my wife. It was just ... I mean ... look at it:
  • If the Rangers can get this Kreider for the season and beyond, that contract is going to be one of the best deals in the NHL. He was one of the few forwards with a positive corsi Monday night, to the tune of leading the team with a +11 shot differential. That’s a big deal for everyone.
  • Zibanejad didn’t record a point, but he made some unreal passes and had two chances on the power play that he ripped just wide. I still can’t believe the Rangers got him from Ottawa. And got a second too.
  • Jimmy Vesey scored his first NHL goal off a pretty pass by Derek Stepan — who also made an unreal pass on the Marc Staal goal. Vesey does something a lot of young guys don’t do, he doesn’t just move to shooting spaces on the ice but he keeps his stick on the ice, too. Case and point: He was able to quickly shoot Stepan’s pass without any follow through, not giving the defense or Martin Jones time to recover. Vesey won’t get an assist for it, but his work to create space (I did call him a wizard at finding space on the ice) was one of the only reasons the Rangers were able to score their opening goal. He had himself a hell of a game.
  • Adam Clendening was second on the defense in corsi. We haven’t seen the offensive explosion that we saw in the preseason but I think it’s coming. Either way, he can pretty clearly handle himself in his own zone. McDonagh also had a really strong game.
  • Here’s another example of eye test vs. stats. I thought Brady Skjei had a solid game. Not great, but not terrible. Well, he posted a -22 shot differential ... Some of that was in the onslaught the Sharks had in the third when everyone was on their heels, but some of it was just him being on the wrong end off some rushes and plays. Not sure how to feel about this one.
  • Dylan McIlrath posted the worst corsi I’ve seen with 7% for. Granted, he only played nine minutes, but he didn’t see a single shift in the third period. There are two schools of thought here. 1) Alain Vigneault was punishing McIlrath for the stupid roughing penalty he took on Tomas Hertl after he bumped Raanta. 2) Vigneault doesn’t trust him at all. I guess there’s a 3) all of the above. But if this is the way McIlrath is going to be treated then the Rangers simply need to trade him. Not utilizing him and leaving him to rot in the press box doesn’t help either party. It’s clear Vigneault doesn’t care to give McIlrath a shot, so let’s rip the band aid off already.
  • Also, and this is more a personal note on the situation, I really do think Vigneault’s treatment of McIlrath has forced him into this thought process that he had to fight to be on this team. It’s clearly not true, but it’s also what he’s done almost every time he’s gotten into the lineup. It’s not good for anyone. It might be best if he is part of one of those “change of scenery” trades.
  • Thoughts?