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Rangers Vs. Penguins: That Kind Of Felt Good

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Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
  • I don’t really know what to say about a game like that. If the Rangers were in the playoffs, or hunting for the playoffs, that would be one of the best wins you’d have seen in a long time. The game had everything: Late goals, a penalty shot in the last minute, overtime, and, oh yeah, a win.
  • The thing is: The Rangers need to start losing games. Look, I love beating the Penguins as much as the next guy, but the Rangers absolutely need a 7th overall pick or better from this disaster of a season. As it stands now, the Rangers are sitting in 10th overall in terms of draft position in the league. As I’ve said in this space a million times, 10th is probably two picks too far for elite talent in this draft (depending on falling players) so, yeah, lose a few more.
  • I know, the Rangers can’t intentionally lose. I’m just making a point that they need to start losing. Still ...
  • I’ve seen a lot of: If Chris Kreider played like THAT every night he’d be a great player. I’m here to tell you that more often than not he does play like that. Those rushes down the wing, coming into the zone with speed, and finishing around the net are trademarks to his game. But when the Rangers are bad and no one is finishing passes, or there isn’t a soul around him when he’s making those rushes up the boards, well, you don’t notice it as much because it doesn’t end up in the back of the net. His first career four-point night. Good for him.
  • Neal Pionk had a three-assist night, bringing his totals on the year to nine assists in 17 games. He’s broken through of late, getting some more time on the power play, and actually using his shot more. I’ve been very, very impressed with John Gilmour, but Pionk has a shot (without Anthony DeAngelo) to start getting those PP minutes he was getting in Minnesota-Duluth. He needs to show more of what he did last night. And I think he does have it in him.
  • Just as I was about to complain about how Jesper Fast was still on the first line down a goal late, he scores a goal. So, yeah. I like Fast a lot, I think he can play anywhere in the lineup because of his smarts and speed, but Pavel Buchnevich is still a better option there. Same goes for Ryan Spooner.
  • Alexandar Georgiev is exactly what the foaming from the mouth anti-Hankers have been begging for for years. I thought he was very good last night, making 34 saves on 37 shots, stopping a penalty shot late (more on that in a minute), and making some jaw-dropping saves when things were close. I’m not trying to take anything away from the kid — who was very good — but this is a game where what Henrik Lundqvist told Larry Brooks shines through. Hank claimed that when you’re facing so many shots at such high danger levels you normally make the big saves and just can’t keep up and let the medium-to-low danger goals in. That was the case with Carl Hagelin’s late go-ahead goal in the third (can you imagine if Hank gave that goal up?), and could have been highlighted more if any of the three posts the Penguins hit lit the lamp. Still, he’s proving that he is 100% the team’s backup next year without question, and might give Igor a run for his money when he jumps the pond.
  • So, the penalty shot: I think it was a penalty. Georgiev hits the post and then pushes it off. Call it soft all you want, if, say, Brayden Holtby did that at that stage in the game, you’d be freaking out. It’s a penalty. And while I have no idea what Evgeni Malkin was doing, Georgiev seems to be learning from Lundqvist in practice and didn’t move a muscle until Malkin did. Good for him, that win should have felt good.
  • Buchnevich got an assist on Kreider finishing his shot from the point on the power play, Mika Zibanejad had two goals (giving him 22 goals and 40 points in 61 games). Ryan Spooner was somehow held off the board.
  • The Rangers fourth line played a grand total of 16:24. The Penguins fourth line dominated the Rangers in possession most of the night. So, yeah, fourth lines matter.
  • Derick Brassard looks gross in a Penguins jersey. I also think he’s a perfect fit for that team with all the skill around him.
  • The Susan Sarandon gimmick was a disaster. We heard the world “oh” about a thousand times, she said “who” when asked about Henrik Lundqvist, and didn’t really provide any useful commentary to the game. It’s not an easy job for people who are actually paid to do it, but she made the entire first period commentary awkward and strange. Fix the playoff structure, NHL, since that’s an actual problem.