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Rangers Vs. Blues: Hutton’s The Star

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St Louis Blues v New York Rangers Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
  • The New York Rangers might have a disappointing 1-3 record to start the year, but this loss and the loss to the Avalanche were somewhat unfortunate. In both contests the Rangers generated possession, scoring chances, and raw offense and just couldn’t finish. I know people don’t like to hear it, but the Rangers really could be 3-1 this year at this point. Shockingly.
  • And there’s no “Henrik Lundqvist let us down” on this one, either. He played a really good game, because despite the Blues only having 23 shots on goal, there were about 10 or 12 high-grade scoring chances mixed in there. That’s not a good look in and of itself, but Lundqvist stood tall all night.
  • Mika Zibanejad continues to score, and I have a feeling this trend is going to continue. His injury last year cut off a hot start, and really ruined the flow of his season with a new team/system. This year, with last season under his belt, he looks far more comfortable, and is shooting the puck a hell of a lot more. Also, he just works with Pavel Buchnevich and Chris Kreider. That group is just dominant with one another.
  • That little no look pass from Buchnevich on the goal, by the way, was out of this world. Just top-shelf passing for a guy who the Rangers couldn’t find a spot for last year. I don’t think Buchnevich has looked all that much different this year than he did last year, outside of him clearly being more confident in himself and his role. Alain Vigneault rewarded him with nearly 20 minutes of ice time, and on two separate occasions he got stoned on a glorious chance. The minute he scores his first goal, the floodgates are going to open for him.
  • Where the Rangers got themselves in real trouble on offense, was their inability to get the puck through the neutral zone against the Blues’ trap. And with Vigneault removing the likes of Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith for Steven Kampfer and Nick Holden, that’s not really a surprise. Kampfer got just as much even strength ice time as Shattenkirk did, and the usage through two periods was ... alarming.
  • Vigneault intentionally matched up Kampfer and Holden to the Vladimir Tarasenko forward group, which was a continued and relentless unmitigated disaster. This was through two periods. It’s not good coaching.
  • Kampfer was responsible for the game-winning goal with a horrific turnover:

Coaching result? Didn’t miss a shift. Remember when DeAngelo had a similar turnover against the Maple Leafs and he lost a ton of shifts, was played in the next game 3:45 as the seventh defenseman and then was a healthy scratch for the next game? Yeah, me too. The Vigneault Subjective Wheel Of Justice strikes again.

  • You don’t need me to tell you that pair didn’t work. Nor for me to tell you that Kampfer was actually moved up to the top pairing with Ryan McDonagh (who is seemingly contractually obligated to be paired with sub par defenseman) down a goal late. You can admit that makes no sense, or you can ignore it like the media does. Dealer’s choice.
  • Adam Cracknell -- who played more at even strength than David Desharnais and Paul Carey — played a solid first game, I thought. He did some really good things, played a hard game, and took care of his own end. However, he can’t be playing more than Desharnais at even strength down a goal. Let’s start figuring this out now, please.
  • I know there’s going to be endless shit about Kevin Shattenkirk on defense -- most of which is unjustified -- but he’s figuring out an entirely new system here. He had another power play assist, and was a beast in the offensive zone all night. He has four points through four games.
  • Get used to having a really good power play. It’s just the way it’s going to be from now on. Although I will say, without DeAngelo, the second power play unit had no flow or danger from the point. McDonagh didn’t do anything there, and that group couldn’t even get possession in the zone let alone create a chance.
  • J.T. Miller hasn’t had a good start to the year, has he? Also, Michael Grabner is (expectedly) going to come crashing back down to earth.
  • Nothing to do about this but move on to the next one. (And, you know, dress an optimal lineup so you might actually win some games.)