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Rangers Vs. Predators: Quick Strikes

Columbus Blue Jackets  v New York Rangers Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
  • This Rangers team -- a team that’s built on the foundation of a lethal offense — sure does show flashes of being a team that can make some noise in the playoffs. I wouldn’t bet my bottom dollar on it, but it’s possible.
  • And it’s possible because of the growth from younger players like J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes (who the media tried to run out of town last year) and Chris Kreider. The unexpected explosions from rookies like Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich. Jimmy Vesey can be tossed into that category to an extent as well. And, of course, Michael Grabner.
  • Grabner is hotter than fire. Maybe the sun? I don’t know if that’s hot enough but it feels close. He’s shooting nearly 10% above his career average, has 26 goals to this point this season (he had nine all of last year) and his speed makes the Rangers so much more dangerous. That line (Miller - Hayes - Grabner) contributed to six points worth of offense. Grabner had a goal, Hayes had three assists (all of them lazy) and Miller had two goals.
  • Give Miller a ton of credit on his first goal for waiting for Hayes to pass — who did a wonderful job making it seem like he was going to shoot. That’s such a hard pass to make (let alone putting it on someone’s tape) and he did it blind.
  • Kreider scored his 22nd of the year, and now has a new career-high in goals. Mika Zibanejad — who is still finding his game post-injury — had an assist and a slew of chances. He’s officially getting the Joe stamp of snakebitten. When he eventually scores it’s going to be an avalanche.
  • Mats Zuccarello is so against shooting that he shoots off teammates for goals so he only gets an assist. Hat tip for the effort.
  • I did like the look of the defense, to be honest. They had their issues of course (I’m not sure Adam Clendening - Marc Staal is a good pairing and it’s not really because of the former) but overall it was alright. Clendening was part of an entire line failure (guess who the crabs blamed for the goal) but also helped create a goal (guess who the crabs ignored). Nick Holden and Ryan McDonagh were good for the most part on the top pairing. Kevin Klein was totally lost on a goal against (but guess who ignored that too).
  • I know it won’t last, because as soon as Dan Girardi is healthy enough to walk he’s being thrown into the lineup, but Clendening does serve a long look. If he won’t do it for Girardi then do it for Klein.
  • Henrik Lundqvist had himself a hell of a night. Alain Vigneault did the whole “timely saves” thing after the game — which I hate because it takes all the burden off the defensive breakdowns — but he did sing his praises so I’ll take it.
  • Pavel Buchnevich got more than seven minutes (a whole 10!) and on the power play made a pass so good Derek Stepan flubbed it out of pure confusion it got to him. Please play him more. Please.
  • Thoughts?