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Rangers Vs. Panthers: Here Comes The Scoring

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NHL: Florida Panthers at New York Rangers Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
  • We’ve gotten off a few jokes of late with the Rangers sending scouts to Toronto last week and then Kyle Dubas himself watching the Rangers’ loss to the Flames in person. Uncle Bob threw some cold water on the rampant William Nylander trade hopes that generated from that — which, by the way, Nylander isn’t even playing, so not like the Rangers were in Toronto scouting him — by reminding everyone Nylander’s agent lives in Manhattan. That said, Rick Carpiniello made a comment that he saw a “pre-deadline” number of scouts at the game. Mike and I had Ryan Mead on Ep. 113 of the podcast this week (which we recorded during the game) and we all agree the Rangers are open for business right now. I don’t even doubt Toronto is scouting the Rangers, but not for a Nylander trade; rather Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Spooner, or Vladislav Namestnikov as rental properties. Maybe even Kevin Hayes. Just something to keep an eye on as we move forward.
  • The Rangers have been very unlucky so far this year, shooting at a crazy low percentage compared to the league average. On Tuesday the Rangers generated just 2.15 expected goals in all situations, and ended up scoring four goals with a goalie in the net. I thought the power plays worked well and am willing to toss out the third period regression with the stats since they were up by two. The Rangers are getting a little more comfortable in their own skin with David Quinn, but it definitely helps to be playing Florida.
  • I was very interested to see what Quinn did as an adjustment to the team’s string of losses, because there was evidence that suggested heavily the Rangers were losing more because of luck than anything else. Quinn basically affirmed that while he wanted more shots, the team was doing a lot of really good things, and he kept the forwards pretty much together. The Rangers are generating a lot of chances and shots, but they’re also bleeding them. We sort of expected this, but it’s good to see Quinn agreeing with the analytics here — which we haven’t seen before. But, hey! The Rangers are fun!
  • I’m starting to fall in love with the Vesey - Howden - Buchenvich line. I think Buchnevich and Howden work really well together, and are both puck retrievers who can work things to the net. Vesey still has finishing issues, but he seems to have more chances at cleaning up their messes. That line didn’t generate any points, but I noticed them a lot. Howden plays well in the corners, and Buchnevich has looked much better with better offensive players with him. The goals will come for that group soon enough.
  • Mika Zibanejad finally got off his quick hits streak with a massive two-goal, two-assist game. He was a monster, and is starting to feel himself; specifically on the power play. It was only a matter of time, but Zibanejad now has seven points in his past three games.
  • Zuccarello — who at this point is putting on an audition for contending teams — scored his first and second goals of the season. He is going to be an important part of this team’s offense until he’s not here anymore, but despite his eight points he had been struggling, so a night like this is going to be good for him.
  • Neal Pionk — who I was adamant couldn’t reproduce last year’s .5 PPG offense — has proven me wrong on that front through seven games; where he’s amassed six assists. I’m going to make a comment about his offense here that I want to make clear is NOT a criticism. Pionk’s offense comes from “keep it simple stupid” hockey. He moves the puck to space when he’s running the point on the power play. He takes shots at the net when he has lanes. Right now that’s generating points, which is fantastic, but the people who are looking at this and assuming he’s another Keith Yandle need to take it down a notch. There are moments where he’s that guy, driving the net, making moves to the slot, asserting himself into space — and those are glimpses of what we hope he can become. But so far, most of his offense hasn’t been generated that way. AGAIN: That’s totally fine, offense is offense, but there is a difference.
  • I also think it’s fair to say Pionk is a complicated player. The possession metrics are rough at best, even away from Marc Staal, despite all the good things he’s done on offense. That part of his game might very well come along, but even if Pionk is what he is now it’s fine. He’s showing you he can do the simple things and there’s more than enough reasons to keep feeding him minutes to see if he grows. The Rangers might have something nice here, even if it’s a one-way player.
  • Alexandar Georgiev played a really good game, which should be good for his confidence after the Carolina disaster. Georgiev getting the starts in Hartford probably helped keep him sharp, and I have a feeling that’s going to be a thing going forward.
  • I have no idea how Filip Chytil hasn’t scored a goal yet. Another series of chances Tuesday night that didn’t end up in the back of the net. Quinn keeps talking about “when he gets one” and I fully agree that when he gets one it’s going to open the floodgates. He was one of the team’s better players in expected goals, he’s generating offense, and his possession metrics are fantastic. I think the Rangers keeping him up regardless of the ELC slide is the right move, and we talked about that on Ep. 113 of the podcast here.