- It is possible for the two segments in the headline to both be true. One can exist with the other, even though by their own very nature they seem to be polar opposites. On one hand the Rangers dug out of a two-goal hole twice, tied the game, killed off some big penalties and won the game. On the other hand, both of Nick Holden’s goals should be stopped ... by an ECHL goalie, the Rangers got blasted in possession and expected goals, were gifted with an awful game from Mike Condon and if it weren’t for some heroics from Antti Raanta (who gave up a stinker himself) they’d have been blown out of the water.
- I do wonder what the mindset is after a game like this. I totally understand Alain Vigneault praising this as a character win, telling the media he loved the team’s resolve and maybe even telling the team that he was proud of the way they fought. What I will not understand is this very lineup — mainly this very defense — getting pushed out yet again on Thursday without any adjustments.
- As the Rangers got off to their horrific start, many people were mentioning just how hurt the Rangers are. And that’s true ... up front. This defense is 100% healthy and right now they’re the problem. Yes, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich and Rick Nash returning will do wonders, but relying on them to play defense for the defense isn’t the best of strategies. That seems to be the direction we’re going in.
- Dan Girardi might have had his worst game of the year last night, which is saying something. I’m not even going into any more detail on him, it’s not worth the time. You either get it or you don’t at this point. Marc Staal was just as bad, and Ryan McDonagh’s defense wasn’t anything to be proud of (he did, however, have three assists). Brady Skjei didn’t look amazing, either.
- But Nick Holden, the wild card, scored two goals. Both of them weren’t anything to run home about, but I don’t want to take anything away from him actually shooting the puck. His first was from an impossible angle and his second — the game winner — was a half wrap around half stuff in that somehow went in.
- The other two goals came from Derek “he’s not good enough” Stepan. I’ll just leave this here on Stepan:
Derek Stepan is currently on pace for 62 points in 82 games this season. Top-15 among centers in points.— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) December 28, 2016
That's also before commenting on his defensive aptitude and being a good influence in the locker room. Well worth his contract.— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) December 28, 2016
- Best possession game of the night came from Brandon Pirri, who had a 57% corsi (no one else was even above 50%).
- Henrik Lundqvist had the flu, so he sat out the night. Raanta was OK, gave up a stinker, got screened on another, make a miraculous save and played well enough for the Rangers to win. If this was Lundqvist, the crabs would be screaming about how bad he was and how he didn’t keep the Rangers in it. So be it.
- Marek Hrivik had another solid game. You know, when he played. Vigneault has sort of gone back to having a “fourth line” in terms of usage. Matt Puempel, Hrivik and Oscar Lindberg all played under 10 minutes. Jimmy Vesey played just over 10 minutes. I joked on Twitter that Vigneault is letting Vesey do the interviews in the first intermission because he doesn’t need to hear the in-between adjustments since he won’t be playing. Everyone got the joke.
- J. T. Miller has cooled off considerably. Not sure what the deal is there, but he looked like he’s either playing scared or is gripping the stick too tight. Him being jerked up and down the lineup can’t help, of course, but still.
- At least Kevin Hayes seems to be avoiding this treatment. Both of them could use a goal or two to kick luck back in their favor.
- Chris Neil — the scum of the scum -- throws a cleanish hit on Brady Skjei. The Rangers get all fired up and who else but Mats Zuccarello gets in his face and starts crap. I love it. During that scrum a few Senators players chirped Vesey (who got involved) that this wasn’t the NCAA and people actually fight here. Then in the third Vesey dropped the gloves, probably because of that chirping. He did, OK, but it should be noted he fought Mark Stone, not exactly a tough guy himself.
- Quick programming note. We’re doing a holiday hiatus for Bantering The Blueshirts. There’s not a night Beth, Mike and I are all together at the same time, so we’re taking the week off. We’ll be back next Wednesday, though, so no worries. If you’re in the holiday spirit and you want to help us out, the Patreon is still open. (Yes, I know this is a strange time to ask you to donate, when we’re skipping a week, but you love us so it doesn’t matter!)
- Thoughts on that win?