- The Rangers were sellers at the trade deadline, but all they have done since is win. The team did the same thing in the two games after the fan letter indicating plans to rebuild. You would think the deadline would have accelerated the tank, but you’d be wrong. On the flip side, the Rangers started a seven game losing streak following the two post-letter wins, so maybe another losing streak is on the horizon.
- Henrik, “the Anti-Tank Engine” Lundqvist turned 36 on Friday, and for the second game in a row he made 50 saves! The Rangers shelled hard in the third period of a game in which they held a 3-1 lead, and Lundqvist stood on his head to earn himself a birthday win.
- When all is said and done, Lundqvist will have his name attached to a number of Ranger records. After Friday’s win he became the first Rangers goaltender since Gump Worsley to make 50 or more saves in consecutive games played.
- And he also made NHL history!
Henrik Lundqvist is the first goaltender in NHL history (since saves were first tracked in 1955-56) to make 50 or more saves and earn a win in two consecutive games. #NYR— NYR Stats & Info (@NYRStatsInfo) March 3, 2018
- Clearly someone still doesn’t understand the tank mandate, but in fairness the Rangers had lost seven in a row prior to rattling off two in a row. If they find a way to win against the Edmonton Oilers tomorrow, “that’s called a winning streak.”
- Lundqvist made some spectacular stops against a Calgary Flames team in desperate need of a win, and this one was arguably his best of the evening.
- He also was vocal during the game, and cameras caught this interaction with forward Peter Holland.
- Can we talk about how crazy Ryan Spooner has been? What he’s done for the Rangers has been nothing short of magnificent, and it really makes you wonder how he will fit into the team’s plans going forward. Spooner recorded his third multi-point game with the Blueshirts tallying a goal and an assist, and is up to eight points in nine periods of play.
- His first goal as a Ranger came off a terrific setup from Tony DeAngelo, and it is passes like this that show the potential he has as a player.
- Spooner held a career points per game average of 0.56 through 253 games with the Boston Bruins prior to the trade, and that factors out to 46 points a season. The 5’10” forward just turned 26 and is arbitration eligible this summer.
- Originally Spooner was looked at someone who could be flipped for more assets, and even if you put recency bias aside, I think Jeff Gorton may be having second thoughts about that right now. I will have more on that potential on Sunday, so stay tuned.
- Kevin Hayes picked up his 18th goal of the season, a career best, and his 22nd primary point of the season. He’s been on a major tear of late and is having quite the season. Like Spooner, Hayes is arbitration eligible this summer and in line for a major payday.
- This hot streak (7-5-12 in last 11 games) will only add ammunition for his representation when it comes to salary negotiation, and it could get costly. How costly you might ask? To that I once again say, check out Blueshirt Banter on Sunday morning.
- Pavel Buchnevich got back on the score sheet, and he could have had a hat trick had it not been for a few posts.
- He took a slash to the hand in the second period which resulted in an interesting moment on the bench while the referees were talking to the coaching staff.
- Color me shocked that the #hashtag had never been used before, but this is something I will be keeping a lookout for the rest of the way.
- The sample size is super small, but there’s a lot to like about this defense. (Meaning the youngsters and where they can fit next season. You obviously don’t like back to back games with 50-shots against, but that is also something systematic.) The other day @RangersSmurf posted this look at how the defense has fared. (Opening the tweet in a new tab helps to view the chart.)
NYR defense @ 5v5, via Corsica and Natural Stat Trick. Sorted by Game Score— Jeff Gorton the Tank Engine (@RangerSmurf) March 1, 2018
Quick thoughts on the newcomers
-Sproul should get another shot
-Gilmour's earned a spot for next year
-Pionk getting a lot of trust, but may still need some time
-O'Gara has embraced the tank pic.twitter.com/lgZUbfGBOI
- Of the newcomers it was really nice to see John Gilmour toward the top. Neal Pionk has been given a lot of ice time, but some of his numbers could be a little better. Rob O’Gara has been horrendous, and it is strange that he’s still here.
- I personally thought Ryan Graves was going to get a look after the deadline had passed so he’d have AHL eligibility for the playoffs if the Hartford Wolf Pack qualified, but he was dealt for Chris Bigras.
- Graves was more than deserving of a look, but for whatever reason management had other thoughts. It will be interesting to see if Brendan Smith emerges from purgatory before the end of the regular season, because surely would be an upgrade over O’Gara. But then again, it is #tankszn for players not named Ryan Spooner and Henrik Lundqvist. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- Speaking of the defense, one thing that has been nice to see is Brady Skjei being more vocal. He is now one of the elder statesmen on the defense, and in this play Skjei directs Gilmour by pointing to slide down so he can skate into the other lane to close the gap.
- By no means is this a huge deal, but for the majority of the season simple mix ups have resulted in goals against, so it is nice to see improvements like this take shape.
- The Rangers take on Milan Lucic and the Edmonton Oilers tonight at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.