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Rangers Vs. Jets: The Offense Does It Again

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NHL: Winnipeg Jets at New York Rangers Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
  • This offense is crazy. Five wins in a row. Five games in a row where the Rangers have scored five or more goals. The Rangers didn’t play particularly good game Sunday night, with Winnipeg coming in on fresh legs and the Rangers playing their second night of a back to back, but it was still enough to get the job done. Despite how bad it looked at times the Jets and Rangers were even in possession until 10 minutes left in the third when the Rangers really sat back hard. Still, the expected goals for told a much more favorable story for Winnipeg.
  • This Rangers team is very opportunistic, though, and their ability to break out of the zone quickly to spring odd man rushes saved them Sunday night. Last year’s early success relied on the Rangers shooting at an unsustainable pace despite getting slammed in possession. Last night had hints of that, although it was the first win this year where I could remember thinking that.
  • This year’s third line really reminds me of the 2014 third line of Benoit Pouliot - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello — only better. Kevin Hayes scored another goal (although I don’t think he had a particularly good game overall) as did J.T. Miller on a fantastic snipe to give the Rangers a lead they would not relinquish. Michael Grabner continued to do great work on both ends of the ice despite not putting up any points. The Rangers have run this third line a lot, and they’ve delivered.
  • Miller leads the Rangers with 13 points in 13 games, Hayes is right behind him with 12 points in 13 games and then Grabner is tied with four other players with 10 points in 13 games. Wows all around.
  • So here’s why I hate the “Hayes was lazy last year” narrative: This year everyone is easily pointing out how much more noticeable he’s been and how he’s changed his attitude this year to work harder. That’s a load of crap. Last year Hayes’ most typical lines mates were either Tanner Glass, Oscar Lindberg, Dominic Moore and Viktor Stalberg. Shocking that playing with Miller and Grabner made him better.
  • The Rangers “fourth” lines looks pretty good, too. Jesper Fast scored another goal, but my guess is that Oscar Lindberg needs to come in sometime soon and it’s going to be for Fast. If that bottom line got Lindberg -- who is a little more offense than Fast -- it might add some more pop — because they haven’t had the best possession numbers. Brandon Pirri had two assists, though, and him and Buchnevich look pretty good together.
  • But Pavel Buchnevich is there and he is pure magic. I mean, come on now:

Are you kidding me with that? He’s always had a strong lower body to work his way into the tough areas of the ice, and his hands are ridiculous. That’s a goal-scorers goal that had my jaw on the floor. It was just insane.

  • Mats Zuccarello - Mika Zibanejad - Chris Kreider did some really good things together. All of them led the Rangers in possession on a night when just six players were at or over 50% corsi. Zibanejad came in at 68%, by the way, with Kreider not far behind at 64%. Kreider had a pretty assist on a Zuccarello snipe and all three were active in all three zones.
  • Marc Staal and Adam Clendening led the defense in possession. Clendening played 16:31 (the least of all defenseman) in his replacement of Dan Girardi who was a healthy scratch for resting purposes. Clendening was one of the Rangers better defenseman, had an assist and played really well. Naturally he’ll sit on Tuesday because Alain Vigneault doesn’t actually want to use him in anything other than a spare role.
  • It was a night to forget for the Ryan McDonagh - Nick Holden top pair. Wooooooof. Holden had his worst game in a few nights and McDonagh looked shaky all night. Not sure that pairing should ever be together, especially when McDonagh - Clendening worked so well in the past.
  • Kevin Klein wasn’t great either. Brady Skjei had his moment but he took got caught up in a lot of the Jets’ hemming in. Still, Skjei had another assist so ...
  • The Jets only came to New York to drop off Jacob Trouba, right?