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Rangers Vs. Hurricanes: Carolina BBQ

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
  • First off, big stick salute to MSG and the New York Rangers for Garden of Dreams week. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Garden of Dreams does a ton of charity work with underprivileged or sick children in the Tri-State area. Yesterday the Rangers made Bryce Rogerson the team’s head coach, they had him in the booth with Sam and Joe and do a ton of great work. If you want to learn more about the charity itself (or donate) look here. If you’re debating between giving us a donation on Patreon or Garden of Dreams, go with the latter. They impact more lives.
  • The Rangers have had a handful of games this year where they've been horrific in the first 20-30 minutes of the game before turning things around in the back half of the contest. Sometimes those issues last the first 40 minutes, which is exactly what happened Tuesday night.
  • This offense is lethal, even without Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad, but sometimes it needs some lathering up to get going without those two. Remember, Zibanejad and Buchnevich are two of the Rangers better two-way forwards, losing them has been a big blow in the team's overall neutral zone play -- which opposing coaches have happily exploited. It took the Rangers until the third period to really get warm, and once they did they were able to keep sustained pressure on Carolina. When the third period began Carolina was up in possession 39-25. When the third period ended the gap was 45-37. That’s a big, important jump the Rangers made.
  • I still don't buy the excuse that the only reason teams are able to trap the Rangers is because of those two being in the press box, by the way. In the third period last night Ryan McDonagh threw a perfect pass from his own blue line through the neutral zone to a streaking forward (I think Kevin Hayes). That is exactly how you break the trap, as seen by Carolina having to scramble to get back into the zone. The Rangers don't do nearly enough of that with this defense, because they don't have nearly enough guys who can do that. Well, outside of the guy sitting on press row.
  • Final point on this: The past week or so every single opponent has thrown a 1-3-1 at the Rangers in some capacity. The NHL is becoming even more detailed, with technology allowing coaches to make changes based off film happening in the game they're playing. It's clear that the current beat on the Rangers is to clog the middle and stifle the offense. And it's worked: the Rangers have just 13 goals their last six games — which includes the five-goal night against Pittsburgh.
  • So there are people out there that hate Rick Nash. They literally walk among us. When Nash plays a game like that you should appreciate just how dominant of a player he is -- he was a terror in all three zones for Carolina. More often than not what happens is people whine about how he "doesn't do this all the time." Here's the thing: He does. Nash is a dominant defensive and neutral zone monster, and always has been. When he's not scoring the crab people say "he's not paid to play defense," and when he is scoring he's "not scoring important goals," or "just doing his job," or "he never does this in the playoffs." I'm not getting into the final point there because it's not worth the time, but the others infuriate me too. I guarantee you if Nash's beast mode into the zone to tie the game at two doesn't go in people would cry about how he doesn't finish. Can't please the crabs ...
  • Jimmy Vesey was due for a goal. His last goal was against Calgary November 12th, which means until last night’s game-winner he had gone eight games without a goal. His shooting percentage has dropped from an unreal 34% to a now 20.5%. He won’t stay that high either, but he couldn’t stay cold forever. Still, even with a “cold” stretch he has 14 points in 24 games. Not half bad for a rookie, no?
  • Speaking of Vesey, his game-winner saved Nash from getting dogged by me (lift he puck there, bro) but also shows his nose for the net. You might look at it and think right place at the right time, but Vesey made the run to the net when he smelled blood. You can’t teach that.
  • Sticking with the positives: I thought Hayes had a monster night (and led the Rangers with a 75% corsi). Brandon Pirri was right behind him (72%) and had a few chances; including a glorious one that he just missed into the side netting. Matt Puempel continues to be impressive, too, even with his “fourth line” duty.
  • Brady Skjei had himself a good night. He became the first Rangers rookie defenseman to record 12 assists in 24 games since ...
  • Anyway, his possession game is getting better, his ability to exit his zone and enter the opposing zone with possession is huge and he’s going to score eventually. So is McDonagh (who missed a glorious shorthanded chance) right? RIGHT???
  • I thought Kevin Klein had a horrific game last night. This is why you blend the stats with the eye test. Klein led all defenseman with a 65% corsi. But he was also directly responsible for the second goal against. Overall, I’ve been far less than thrilled with Klein this year. You can’t even really call it a decline in play, either, he just doesn’t have the hot shooting hand to make up for it.
  • The Rangers scored two unassisted goals last night (Nash and Nick Holden’s). When was the last time that happened? Nash also had an assist on the Vesey goal.
  • Speaking of Holden, didn’t love his game last night. His attempt to block a shot (stop trying to block shots) caused a deflection off his foot for a goal -- but he did work on his goal. He taketh and he giveth.
  • Thoughts?