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Rangers Vs. Golden Knights: Lipstick On A Pig

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Vegas Golden Knights v New York Rangers Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images
  • Before we start anything, thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by the events in lower Manhattan yesterday. I think as a whole we’ve become somewhat desensitized to these events, but hearing some of the Rangers talk about the fact that they didn’t know whether or not their families was surreal. This morning, however, New York was ... well ... New York. People were still cursing at oncoming taxis, it was loud, everything felt normal. Even last night, after the incident itself, people were out for Halloween and going back to their lives. Obviously the people who lost someone will never be the same again — and shouldn’t be forgotten or ignored — but I’m really proud of this city for not letting anything bring us to our knees. We’re stronger than these acts of violence. We’re better than that. And we’re strong enough not to let irrational fears turn us against one another.
  • Turning to the far less important hockey game, Carp made a comment that the third period was putting lipstick on a pig, and I fully agree. Adam made a note that the very worst thing that could have happened to the Rangers was playing poorly and winning, because it’s the worst of both worlds. On what was supposed to be Judgement Day for Alain Vigneault, the Rangers may have saved his job despite a suddenly all-too-familiar first 40-minutes where they played horribly. It’s also ironic that Pavel Buchnevichthe man who can’t prove himself to the coach, despite being a good hockey player — played an enormous role in pulling his bacon off the fire.
  • So did, ironically again, the KBZ line that for whatever reason hasn’t been kept together. Chris Kreider had a goal, Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists, while Buchnevich had a goal and an assist. That line has no reason to be broken up. None.
  • I don’t think you can say enough about how good that third period was from Zibanejad. He took the damn game over. The pass to Kreider for the power play goal? Insanity. His goal? Well, we’ll get into that in a moment.
  • The power play, which has previously been somewhat quiet, saved the Rangers in this one. The goal on the first leg of the David Perron double-minor (Buchnevich drew both penalties, by the way) gave the Rangers’ life, and Zibanejad’s rip for the game winner was one of the prettier snipes you’ll see all year. Boom. It can be that quick with this team.
  • The defense has been something of a disaster, and it wasn’t much better against Vegas. Ryan McDonagh was bad, so was Brendan Smith. Kevin Shattenkirk had his moments, and for some reason Steven Kampfer is still playing. At one point I joked that better defense from the Rangers would consist of Henrik Lundqvist turning his stick into a shiv and stabbing anyone that came near him. I wasn’t far off base.
  • My bet is Smith — who was benched in the third — sits out for Nick Holden because that’s the way these things work these days.
  • Also, people went after Lundqvist between the second and third period. That’s laughable at best. Lundqvist was remarkable, top to bottom, and anyone who thinks otherwise is looking for problems. He made a few jaw-dropping saves to keep the Rangers in this one when the wheels were falling off the bus. It was a very Lundqvist result. Play great, keep the Rangers in the game, do amazing things, Rangers win, people forget about what he did.
  • Ryan McDonagh being a problem for this team was 4,095th on my list of preseason problems coming into the year. Did not expect this at all. I normally avoid this line of thinking, but it’s more logical to assume he’s playing hurt than it is to assume he’s suddenly forgotten how to play hockey.
  • Mats Zuccarello with a goal and an assist should hopefully get him going again. The Rangers could use the offense.
  • Zibanejad leads the Rangers with 13 points. Four Rangers are tied for second with 10 points each (Buchnevich, Zuccarello, Shattenkirk, and J.T. Miller). David Desharnais is next at seven. Some bigger names (Kreider and Kevin Hayes) are starting to heat up, so we could see that tsunami of offense we’ve been waiting on.
  • And that’s sort of why this result is uncomfortable. The Rangers winning is a good thing, obviously, as it keeps them in the playoff hunt (they’re not exactly three points out of the playoffs at the drop-dead October line. So that’s good. But long term? This may only extend Vigneault’s inevitable execution. If that win— against an expansion team on literally their 4th string goalie, in which the Rangers were dominated most of the game, and managed to squeak out a win — is the deciding factor in keeping the coach around for a while, then he should be fired today regardless. I find it hard to believe the Rangers don’t have other options already lined up if they’ve gone this far, and I find it even harder to believe Vigneault will last the year if that’s the case. So why are we waiting on this? (Longer story alert).