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Rangers Vs. Maple Leafs: The Buch Is Loose

Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Rangers Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images
  • The Rangers were coming off a three-game losing streak that’s had everyone questioning everything. Alain Vigneault was at a loss to the media. Henrik Lundqvist was spitting fire after the games. Derek Stepan was talking about how embarrassing the Rangers’ effort was. It was a dark time, and to be honest, we might not be out of those woods yet. However, the Rangers got a much-needed win against Toronto Thursday, filled with some spectacular goaltending from Lundqvist that was just as needed as the two points were.
  • This was a point I made after the game on Twitter, but I feel like those games where Hank does Hank things, stops a ton of dangerous shots due to defensive breakdowns and the Rangers walk away with two points have become so normal over the past ten years that they’re taken for granted. As is such, they’re never talked about really afterwards, so the only things we do hear about is when Lundqvist isn’t Lundqvist. It really has created this sort of self-devouring cycle that’s been frustrating to watch — although at the very least this year Lundqvist’s numbers have made the negativity somewhat logical.
  • There were some enormous defensive breakdowns, of course. Adam Clendewning (who I thought played an overall solid game) isn’t doing himself any favors with the totally lazy and careless turnover leading to the Maple Leafs second goal. There’s a good and a bad side with Clendening. Yes, the defensive issues are there, but what he brings to the table in terms of transition and offense makes them worthwhile. I also don’t think he’s been nearly as much of a liability as Dan Girardi or Kevin Klein but, well, that’s for later I guess.
  • Clendening and Brady Skjei were a pairing and were by far the Rangers best pair on the night. Skjei in particular had a really good and active game, scored the opening goal and added an assist (Clendening also had an assist). Not that you’d want that duo out there against everyone, but the Leafs have a very good and fast team -- despite their flaws -- so this was a good showing. Still, there’s a zero percent chance Clendening isn’t the guy sitting when Marc Staal gets back.
  • On the offensive side things were a little more normalized. It’s amazing how much of a difference having Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad back makes. It’s also amazing how literally anyone who has been paired with the two of them has worked. Buchnevich scored another goal (he has 14 points in 14 games) and played a great game. Zibanejad didn’t find the scoresheet, but played a good game as well (he’s also being used as a FOGO — face off get off — on the penalty kill). And Rick Nash was, well, Rick Nash.
  • Kevin Hayes had two assists including a jaw-dropping threaded pass through three zones to a streaking Michael Grabner for the insurance goal to make it 4-2. He also made a great pass to J.T. Miller for his goal. Those three continue to make one of the more dangerous lines on the team — which is honestly saying something.
  • Grabner would hit the empty net, too, giving in 21 goals on the year. Yeah I’m going to keep banging this drum: With expansion looming and Grabner being one of the two real risks to be taken (Antti Raanta) I’d seriously think about trading him to a contender. Even if you don’t want to unload him for picks and prospects, you might be able to swap him with another team that is looking to move a defenseman. You’d be surprised at what type of deals can be made when a GM is begging for a spark.
  • I did not know Oscar Lindberg was playing until it was pointed out to me. Figured I should mention that.
  • Who doesn’t love a smooth, cold glass of Zucc-a-cola?
  • Thoughts on the win?