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Rangers Vs. Stars: Hank Drops The Mic

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NHL: New York Rangers at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
  • That couldn’t have been a better return for Henrik Lundqvist. Expectations were manipulated to be sky high, and he somehow answered the call. I wrote about how Lundqvist doesn’t have a bar to reach for because he happens to be the bar, and that’s exactly what he proved in Dallas.
  • Since I mentioned how the team plays in front of each goalie a little differently, it seems worth noting Lundqvist made 18 saves in the second period Thursday night — one less save than Antti Raanta made in two of his wins on that four-game streak.
  • The Cody Eakin hit needs to be an enormous suspension. I read a few Stars takes that claimed Eakin was trying to “move out of the way” but that doesn’t really fly when he actually follows through on the hit. I mean, look at this:

Yeah, that’s got to be a big one. It’s a pure, intentional headshot, against a goaltender and, in case you missed it, the head is the primary point of contact. No let up, no avoidance. Sorry, Dallas. (By the way, can you imagine if that happened to the Stars? What’s the odds Lindy Ruff tries to jump over the boards to kill the offending player?)

  • A good chunk of Rangers fans were furious no one attempted to kill Eakin. Would I have minded if someone bloodied him on the ice? No. Am I going to lose sleep over it? No. A fight there does nothing. It doesn’t make Hank feel better, it doesn’t turn back time to take the hit away and it doesn’t send a message. The message you send there is to score three or four times on the five-minute major to embarrass them, which they didn’t do — the Rangers had a full two-minute 5-on-3 within that major and generated just five shots. That’s what you should be mad about.
  • On that power play the Rangers did this:
  • Here’s a little free power play lesson that I’ve screamed from the rooftops multiple times. You have space on a power play so, uh, USE THE SPACE!!!! Bunching Brandon Pirri and Chris Kreider (who both have amazing shots) in front of the net does nothing. Especially when McDonagh shoots from the side and doesn’t even use the (double) screen. It’s horrible.
  • Give the penalty kill a hell of a lot of credit, though. Them (featuring Hank) got the job done.
  • Shockingly, for as wide open of a game as that was and how many shots the Rangers gave up in the second, they pretty much tied the possession game, and won the expected goals race. It was a solid game overall.
  • Rick Nash came back, too, and quieted the haters. His goal wasn’t just shorthanded, it was a ridiculous rip that went bar-down so fast no one even knew what happened. You might have realized how much you missed him when he was out, but you probably missed him more than you knew.
  • Mats Zuccarello, Jimmy Vesey and J.T. Miller all missed glorious chances because they ... well ... missed the net. Kevin Hayes got far too fancy too many times. He just needs to shoot the puck sometimes.
  • Vesey led the Rangers in possession and played almost nothing 5v5. He played just over 12 minutes WITH nearly four minutes of power play time. Was the effort in Chicago not enough to prove he deserves more time on the ice?
  • Also, for as good as Marek Hrivik has been, he’s also being held to the “not a trusted veteran” status. Not even seven minutes of ice time. In his time on the ice he was a 54% possession player.
  • I’m starting to low the lower-defensenman Nick Holden. After Oscar Lindberg got laced up (totally clean hit) he literally threw his gloves onto the ice to chase down the offender — who refused to fight. Also, by “lower-defenseman” I mean “not top pair.” He’s done good work in the second and third pairing roles.
  • Lindberg, by the way, is continuing his improvement. 57% possession, a few shots and some nice work in the offensive zone. I really think he’s starting to come around, and that’s going to make things difficult for Vigneault with everyone coming back healthy.
  • Ryan McDonagh had a nice bounce back game considering him missing a game with the flu.

Thoughts?