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Rangers Vs. Flyers: Can We Keep That Team?

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Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
  • I’m going to rain on the parade pretty early here: That win — while it was one of the best of the year — still doesn’t change the fact that the Rangers need to be sellers this year, and that this team needs a new voice behind the bench. The worst thing that can happen to the Rangers right now is Gorton seeing a semi-winning streak before the trade deadline and leaning back towards being a buyer for the fourth straight year. It just can’t happen.
  • To bring some sunshine: That was the closest thing we’ve gotten to a 60-minute effort all year. I’d say that the Rangers gave a good fight from the Pavel Buchnevich to Rick Nash connection for the Rangers’ opening goal on, so call it a 53-minute effort for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist was still needed a lot early — and I wonder what the final score would have looked like if Lundqvist didn’t stop Claude Giroux on that shorthanded chance at 2-1 -- but from there the Rangers really did suffocate the Flyers.
  • It’s amazing that Alain Vigneault eventually feels the heat enough to put a good lineup on the ice and actually deploy them properly. It’s also amazing that doing those two things somehow turns into a dominant win against a conference rival. Hmmmm. I wonder why this hasn’t been done more.
  • That pass from Buchnevich to Nash was about as good of a pass as you’ll see. Two guys on him, passes it through them and another defender to get the puck in stride to Nash -- who finally got off the schneid. He also fed another brilliant pass to Ryan McDonagh who missed the net later in the game, along with strong play all around. Play the kid, AV. When you do things like this happen. (For the record, he played him last night, although it was a blowout.)
  • Nash gets two goals, and the Rangers could use him heating up. An analytic report came out yesterday (I’m not going to post it here because it will be in an upcoming story) that showed Nash has been creating expected goals at a historically high rate (one of the top numbers in the league) and finishing at a historically low rate. Even for his bad luck, this is unsustainable, and him getting red-hot right before the trade deadline would be nice.
  • Michael Grabner with his 20th goal of the year. Boy oh boy was I wrong on him not being able to do this again. One of the highest even strength goal totals in the league the last two years combined (somehow empty net goals count as even strength). I got news for you, someone is going to be willing to PAY THE DAMN FREIGHT for him this deadline. Even as a rental.
  • Since we’re on the topic of me being wrong:
  • Peter Holland looked pretty good in his debut — as you would expect from a guy who has had nearly 250 games to his NHL resume. I commented (when the Rangers brought him up) that while I liked Boo Nieves, I didn’t mind the Rangers trying to add some offensive pop because of their struggles. Not that Holland made all that much of a difference, but he was good. he also assisted on Paul Carey’s goal (the Rangers’ first shorthanded goal of the year).
  • McDonagh nearly had his first goal of the year, but his shot was deflected by J.T. Miller for the Rangers’ first power play goal in, like, a billion years. McDonagh had a better game against the Flyers, and is on pace for a 40-point season (all assists). Another spoiler for that future story: I’m still on the trade McDonagh train, as much as it hurts to say.
  • Marc Staal left the game with a lower body injury and did not return. He is reportedly day-to-day, but this is the once place where a Stephen Kampfer replacement isn’t a huge downgrade, so.
  • Lundqvist won his 20th game for the 13th straight year (ever year he’s been in the league). I will never forgive Gary Bettman for the lockout that did not allow this feat to be 30-wins a year.