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Rangers Vs. Bruins: Make It Five

Boston Bruins v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
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  • This was something of a reverse game from the Rangers. Come out of the gate swinging, take an early lead, fall off now that they’re up, shell completely in the third, and just hang on for the win. I’m not sure what happened between the first and the second period, but whatever it was it took the air out of the balloon. The Rangers went from all-out domination of the first 20 to the Bruins reclaiming some semblance of control, to the Rangers desperately trying not to fall off the cliff.
  • It was — and really has been — a joy to watch Pavel Buchnevich grow into this confident young man who is willing to take risks because he thinks he’ll be permitted to make mistakes. I hope the latter holds there, because it’s made an enormous difference in his game. He could not be stopped in the first period, scoring a goal of the ages, adding an assist, and nearly finishing another opportunity. He dominated the Bruins physically, drove to the net like a madman, and was (as always) very good in his own end. He and Mika Zibanejad led the Rangers with a 1.28 xGF% at evens through the game, and that wasn’t a surprise. The two of them gel so nicely, and as Carp said during the game: Buchnevic is going to turn Chris Kreider into an assist machine.
  • Just take a moment to appreciate this goal. My word.
  • And yet, Buchnevich played just under 13 minutes. David Desharnais played more than him, and he was nearly a healthy scratch the past three games and benched in the third in all of them. I mean, look at this:
  • It was also nice to see Jimmy Vesey finally break open. Even outside of the two goals, it was one of his more involved games of the year. One of the bigger problems Vigneault ran into when the team was struggling, in my humble opinion, was the continued hammering of Vesey in the top-six while Buchnevich rotted away on the fourth line. I like Vesey a lot. I think he can be a great depth scorer. But at best, Vesey is a 25-goal guy. That’s not a knock on him, it’s just the reality, and the more he’s used as a top-nine forward the better it’s going to be for the Rangers. Just like Jesper Fast, forcing him into a role he’s not equipped for doesn’t help anyone.
  • Henrik Lundqvist needed to stand tall more than once, and especially down the stretch in the third. He was a monster on the penalty kills where the Rangers were running like chickens with their heads cut off. Of course, games like this always seem to be forgotten as we go forward.
  • Here’s a full list of defenseman with more points than Kevin Shattenkirk:
  • He leads the NHL in points for a defenseman with 16 in 17 games. I talked about this a little on Twitter, but one of, if not the, most valuable assets Shattenkirk brings to the table is his ability to have shots find their way to the net through traffic. So many guys throw pucks into the pads, or miss the net, but not Shattenkirk. A fair amount of his assists have come from the shot hitting the net and creating that juicy rebound that gets slammed home. That’s exactly what happened on his assist for one of the Vesey goals in this game. It’s also how, you know, he scores goals.
  • Ryan McDonagh is tough to watch at times. He had two assists, was active in the offensive zone, and was alright for most of the game — but he’s started making those big, noticeable mistakes we’re not used to seeing. On the Bruins’ instant-answer after the Buchnevich goal, it was McDonagh who totally lost sight of his man and allowed the goal. On the Bruins’ second goal Nick Holden tried to cover Patrice Bergeron in front of the net and lost him. Then McDonagh came in to help and he lost him too. Boom. Goal. That’s something I’ve never seen happen more than once or twice to him, and we’ve already seen a slew of those this year.
  • These wins haven’t exactly been pretty, but the Rangers have won five in a row. You can make the excuse that the Bruins are hurting, but you need to beat up on those teams. The Rangers have 10 points in their last 10 games, have vaulted themselves to a playoff spot, and are but five points away from moving out of the wild card (almost every other team has multiple games in hand, though). It’s not going to be easy, but the Rangers have at least erased their slow star and can start fresh again. Only, that’s hard to do when it took a monster winning streak to get you here in the first place. Still, better than where they were.