The 24-year-old Kevin Hayes was named the third star of the week by the NHL for the week ending November 6th. Corey Crawford was named the second star and Nikita Kucherov earned first star honors.
Let’s have a look at Hayes’ play over the last five games (starting on October 30th).
- Hayes had three assists on October 30th against the Lightning in a 6-1 Rangers win.
- He scored a goal in the Rangers 5-1 win over the Blues on November 1st.
- On November 3rd he scored another goal and picked up two more assists against the Oilers in a 5-3 win at the Garden.
- In his hometown of Boston Hayes scored the shorthanded game-winning goal in the Rangers’ 5-2 win on November 5th.
- And on November 6th Hayes yet another goal in the Blueshirts’ 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
That’s four goals and five assists in his last five games. The big center now has 12 points (6 G, 6 A) on the season. At this time last year Hayes had three goals and six assists for the Rangers over an equal span of 13 games played.
It’s almost like he was really good before this year, too.
What’s interesting is how Hayes’ possession numbers currently compare to the rest of the Rangers’ roster. Surprisingly, they don’t look great. Still, five of his goals have come at evens and the other, of course, was a shorthanded goal against Boston. Hayes is currently riding a 30 shot percentage that obviously won’t last forever for the “pass-first” center, but he is making his scoring chances count.
Right now Hayes and his line are red hot.
Hayes trails only his linemate J.T. Miller for the team lead in points. But unlike Miller he has yet to register a single point on the power play. The same is true of Michael Grabner who has seven goals and three assists in his first 13 games as a Ranger. That even strength production is absolutely crazy for a “third line”.
Thanks in large part to Hayes’ outstanding week the Rangers just keep on winning. Their victory last night over the Jets at the Garden was their fifth in a row. But it looks like the leaders in the locker room are aware that the team can play better. And that’s a good thing, because the Rangers did not play great hockey this weekend.
Hayes is one of five Blueshirts with six or more goals this season. The Rangers have been winning because they are getting contributions up and down the lineup. And because they always find a way to pour it on in the second period.
Last night New York scored four goals in a span of seven minutes and three seconds in the second period. On the season they have 25 goals for and seven goals against in the second period. But the Rangers aren’t just scoring goals in the second period.
The Rangers have nine more even strength goals than the Chicago Blackhawks do this season (both teams have played 13 games). New York leads the league in 5v5 goals for with 36 through 13 games. And they’re tied for third in the league with 10 goals scored during 5v4 play.
The Rangers are averaging a league-best 4.23 goals per game. The Blackhawks are second with 3.54 goals per game. Take a minute to process and compare those two numbers. The Rangers are averaging nearly .70 more goals per game than the Blackhawks.
It’s been a wild ride, but will it last?
Chris Kreider’s modest 9.1 shooting percentage (three goals on 33 shots in nine games) is ranked 12th on the team (excluding Josh Jooris). The Rangers currently have five players shooting north of 20 percent. And three of those players are shooting above 28 percent (Grabner, Hayes and Jimmy Vesey).
The Rangers just keep finding ways to win games. Scoring five or more goals in five straight games has certainly helped, but that hasn’t been the whole story. All three of their losses this season have been by one goal margins. And just one of their wins came by a margin of one goal. They win often. They win big.
Who are they?
Are the Rangers the team that we saw play this weekend? A team that was out-shot by their opponents by a margin of 21 shots in two games while scoring 10 goals and allowing only four?
Or do we chalk this weekend’s play up to tired legs and the notion that “they were due for a sloppy game or two?” Because, frankly, they were. Antti Raanta helped steal the Rangers a win against the Bruins. And a second period offensive outburst won last night’s game against Winnipeg (the Rangers managed just 18 shots).
The mea culpas have begun on social media from writers and analysts who are admitting that they underestimated the Rangers. But I’m not sure we know who the Blueshirts really are just yet.