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Rangers Vs. Oilers: Goalies To The Rescue

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NHL: New York Rangers at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
  • This past weekend has started to slowly surface those last year fears where the Rangers are winning games on the back of their goalie but getting dominated in possession. Neither Calgary nor Edmonton saw the Rangers on the right side of that possession line, and the team used some hot hands to find their way to victory. This, of course, doesn’t alarm the media, nor the plethora of crab people who keep yelling at me “but they’re winning games” as if last year never happened.
  • The big difference between last year and this year? The Rangers expected goals are almost always higher or even with the opposing team. Same thing for scoring chances generated. Last year’s offense was scoring early with unrealistic clips (say, two goals on four shots). This year’s offense has much more organic growth to create chances, but they’re not going to stay this hot forever. Most every Ranger is shooting over 20%, which isn’t going to last forever. That means the Rangers defense is going to be relied on more, and I’m not too comfortable there.
  • Let’s get this out of the way early: Alain Vigneault is forced to dress seven defenseman because Pavel Buchnevich can’t go after warmups. So he dresses Adam Clendening. Then he doesn’t use Clendneing once. Exactly what is the point of having him on the bench if you’re not going to use him? In a game where the Rangers defensive corsi was as follows: Nick Holden (47%), Kevin Klein (47%), Ryan McDonagh (37%) Brady Skjei (32%), Dan Girardi (32%) and Marc Staal (30%) he couldn’t find a single shift for him. All this does is re-affirm that Vigneault has players he simply doesn’t like/trust and will only use them when needed. Also, this happened after Vigneault said he wasn’t playing Girardi in any more back to backs to keep him fresh. That lasted all of a single back to back. Glad to see we’ve learned our lessons there.
  • Anyway, these are the games I’m not so sure the Rangers are going to keep winning when their defense is forced to keep things together once the offense cools down. Again, this is speculation, and it should be noted this offense is far more equipped to handle that load. But here we are.
  • Michael Grabner scored his 10th goal of the year in a two-goal effort. Raise your hand if you thought he’d be the team’s leading goal scorer on November 14th. It’s gotten to the point where the Rangers are going to probably lose him for nothing in expansion, so they’ll have to move him this summer to avoid losing him for nothing. And he, uh, might have actual trade value now to recoup from a team that doesn’t have too many forwards to protect.
  • I’ve seen much better things from Mika Zibanejad. Even in the face of a possession disaster he still had the team’s second-best corsi. He makes some passes that I can’t even comprehend sometimes, and he got stopped on two glorious chances thanks to Cam Talbot stops.
  • Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller continue to put up points. Those two have been life vests when this offense hasn’t been hitting the right notes, which hasn’t been often but it has happened.
  • Give Antti Raanta a ton of credit, he stood on his head against a team with a slew of offensive talent.
  • Oscar Lindberg looked like a guy who didn’t play for about three weeks.
  • Speaking of learning lessons: Maybe Girardi shouldn’t be the guy who goes up against Connor McDavid. Just a thought.
  • I sort of floated in and out of the third period so I don’t have much more to say. Again, I will let you guys fill in the gaps!
  • P.S. Chris Kreider going back to New York is not a good sign.