- You knew the Rangers weren’t going to lose every game, but it’s so very, well, Rangers to win THAT game like THAT. The Rangers could have beat Nashville, but lost. They should have beat Buffalo, but lost. They should have gotten beat by Carolina and, well, they lost. The Shark dominated the first 40 minutes of this game so thoroughly if not for Henrik Lundqvist it could have easily been a 6-0 rout. The Rangers’ offense couldn’t get much going and the other side of the puck was actually worse. But the Rangers dominated the third, and while that obviously comes with San Jose putting some form of landing gear down, the team still dominated the third. That team exists in here somewhere, too, if not ready for a full time role just yet. Even so, there’s a lot to be excited about with this group, and a huge congratulations to David Quinn for his first NHL win. Many more to come.
- When I say the other side of the puck was bad, I mean really, really, really bad. Brendan Smith, Fredrik Claesson, Vladislav Namestnikov, Filip Chytil, Vinni Lettieri, and Pavel Buchnevich were the only players in positive possession 5v5. From there it ranges from Jesper Fast’s 48% corsi to Kevin Hayes’ 19%. Yeah.
- I saw a lot of criticism (and a fair amount of gloating) about Tony DeAngelo’s struggles during the game. I don’t think DeAngelo was the worse defenseman on the ice, but there’s no debating he was fighting the puck a bit. He had a bad pinch that turned into a 2-on-1 against that Hank had to stop, somehow tripped himself up that allowed another chance, and was roasted by the media for his role in the Shark’s go-ahead goal in the second. I disagree with the final point, since DeAngelo is trailing the play (and trying to be a guy Chris Kreider can move the puck to) with another man on his right (who was behind him), and two players changing at his back. Kreider’s slap shot is the worst call of all his options there, since there’s probably a 5% chance it’s a goal and a 50% chance it’s kicked out for a rush the other way. Guess what happened. There’s a ton of blame to go around on that goal, and I’m not convinced DeAngelo is even in the top three there. All the negativity aside, I thought he played fine for where he is right now, had a few spring passes that created chances, and worked well in the opposite zone. The Sharks might be the most offensively gifted team in the league, so tell me what defenseman on the Rangers shouldn’t have struggled?
- Even with his struggles, DeAngelo played second-most of all defenseman. Probably because Adam McQuaid and Marc Staal were so noticeably bad in that game. I also think Staal continues to be an anchor to whoever he is partnered with. It’s worse when it’s a kid (read: Neal Pionk or DeAngelo) because you’re getting their built-in learning mistakes AND the Staal issues.
- Kreider had another poor showing, as did Mika Zibanejad ... and Hayes. Quinn moved Fast up with Buchnevich and Zibanejad, but that didn’t do all that much to Mika’s game. Buchnevich and Fast meshed well, and the two combined for a glorious give-and-go that led to Brendan Smith’s game-tying goal. Kreider was the third-worst possession forward in all facets behind only Hayes and Jimmy Vesey.
- Another rough night for Vesey, by the way, who continues to be complicated.
- As we transition into the positives, a huge stick tap to Lundqvist for what was another masterful performance. The only positive to Alexandar Georgiev’s struggles against Carolina is combined with Lundqvist’s success in October its kept the crabs quiet. Hank had 41 saves, over a half-dozen on the odd man rush, and was the only reason why the Shark’s expected goals of 3.56 was held to two on the scoreboard.
time to reboot this bad boy up again...— BOO-shirtBanter (@BlueshirtBanter) October 12, 2018
Henrik Lundqvist regular season games facing 40+ shots (by season):
- Brett Howden, is he a wizard? My column: Yes. I have no earthly idea how Howden scored his second career NHL goal with his back to the goal and through his own legs. I mean, come on ...
Howden scores beauty, but the Sharks challenge that it was offside. pic.twitter.com/yHV8auhaXI— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) October 11, 2018
- The kid is feeling it right now, and while this hot streak probably won’t last all year, enormous props to Quinn for riding the hot hand (somewhere Beth is snickering). Howden got 17:34 Thursday night, more than all but Mats Zuccarello among forwards, and was a monster all game. He could have finished the evening with three assists and another goal, too. He’s still figuring a few things out, mainly the quick trigger that’s missing on rushes, but against one of the best teams in the NHL he stood out in a good way. A really good way.
- Now, there is a small negative here, and something Quinn is going to have to figure out. With Howden playing like this, and rightfully getting those minutes, it’s pushed Chyil to 10 and 11 minutes of ice time the past two games. That’s not ideal, especially since Chytil is toiling on the fourth line — although that group looked good and was actually the only positive-possession line of the Rangers. With Hayes’ struggles, I’d really like to see Chytil eat some of his minutes, or at least be moved back up to the PP1 unit to get minutes there. He’s not being buried because Quinn doesn’t see enough in him, but because another kid is earning those minutes — which, let’s be honest, is a huge upgrade from the past regime. But that doesn’t solve this issue. Does Quinn move Chytil to wing? Hayes to wing? Does he move one of Spooner or Namestnikov to center to cover that new hole? And it’s not like Chytil isn’t good — he’s been one of the Rangers best possession players and can work magic with the puck — he just hasn’t had the time the past two games. This might change, probably will change, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
- Who is the defenseman to sit when Kevin Shattenkirk comes back in? Claesson was so good that I feel he has earned another game, but that’s where this falls back into Quinn’s blind spot (as of right now). I can’t imagine Staal or McQuaid taking a seat, despite both deserving to, so it appears it might fall onto DeAngelo. Or maybe we’ll be surprised. Claesson isn’t a kid so it wouldn’t be shocking for him to get the yank to keep DeAngelo in the lineup, but I guess we’ll have to see.
- Brendan Smith was preseason Brendan Smith tonight.
- Brady Skjei sniped the game-winner, but had a game of struggles. Again, this is a really bad matchup to judge the defense since, you know, the Sharks are really good. That said, good on Skjei for fighting through it and putting home the winner. And how cool was it to see Howden actually start the overtime?