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Rangers vs. Sabres: It Was Good To Finally Win Again

Buffalo Sabres v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
  • I don’t know about you, but I find it quite poetic that the New York Rangers scored six goals in their victory over the Buffalo Sabres to stop the team’s losing streak from extending to six games.
  • Before the game I had a good feeling, mostly because it seemed like the Sabres were due for a loss. That and one of my best friends, who is a Sabres’ fan, was talking some shit in our college buddies group chat and I knew that it would come back to bite him. He’s also a Buffalo Bills fan, so while I don’t blame him for enjoying life right now; he got what was coming to him ;).
  • The victory was the Rangers’ third of the season, and it was arguably one of the team’s better overall games of the season. The second period saw the team nod off a bit, and the Sabres scored two goals on 15 shots, while the Rangers scored a goal on just four shots.
  • This picture is mostly a positive one, with the one negative being that they lost the shot-share battle.
  • A number of players had really strong games, and that includes folks such as Tony DeAngelo, Brady Skjei, Brett Howden, Brendan Lemieux, Jesper Fast, Pavel Buchnevich, and Artemiy Panarin.
  • Others, like Adam Fox and Ryan Strome, played well, but they were just a rung under the top performers.
  • David Quinn made some changes to his lines, and one of the best tweaks was the creation of a second line of Panarin-Strome-Buchnevich.
  • Strome led the line with two goals, Panarin picked up his fifth goal of the season, and Buchnevich tallied his fifth assist of the season.
  • I’ve said it a lot already, and probably will continue saying it, but damn Panarin is really a difference maker who the Rangers are lucky to have. Overall the line showed tremendous chemistry, and looked good even when it wasn’t scoring.
  • Although Strome didn’t officially pick up an assist during the game, he made a great keep in play at the blue line which led to Tony DeAngelo’s fourth goal of the season.
  • While we are talking about defensemen, tonight was an active night offensively for the back end, as players directly and indirectly were involved in goals for.
  • Brady Skjei notched his third and fourth assist’s of the season. The above was his second of the game, and his first came when he fired a puck on goal that Strome just got the tip of his stick on.
  • DeAngelo picked up the secondary assist here, and with two points tonight he now has six points in eight games played which places him third in total scoring on the Rangers.
  • Although Jacob Trouba was toward the bottom of the xG chart include above, he did help generate a goal. In the third period he blocked a shot, and proceeded to press forward, and eventually Strome and Brett Howden were in a 2-on-1 situation which resulted in Strome’s second goal of the game and season.
  • Howden arguably had one of his best games as an NHL player to date, and I hope he can use this as a jumping off point for future success. I’ve given him a fair share of criticism this season, but he deserves some recognition for having a solid game.
  • Lastly, tonight involved a couple of other firsts for the Rangers. Adam Fox picked up his first NHL point, and it happened to be on Chris Kreider’s first goal of the season. It was nice to see Fox get rewarded for his efforts, and he was really due for a point.
  • There certainly were a lot of positives during the game, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on a few of the negatives.
  • By and large the new top line of Kreider-Zibanejad-Kakko did not look good. It is something that is still very much a work in progress, and based on the success of the Panarin-Strome-Buchnevich line, I’d expect the top line to remain in tact. There’s a chance Fast could slip back up, but I wouldn’t tinker too much with a winning lineup.
  • Even though Kakko was promoted to the top line, he played just 11:47 for the Rangers. He made a rookie mistake in the second period which led to a goal against, and he was also on the ice for a late goal which deflected off Jacob Trouba.
  • As you can see despite the mistake, he was not benched and even ended up with more TOI in the second than he did the first.
  • He started the third period without issue, but you can see some gaps in shifts. This includes shift 16 (ended 15:00) to 17 (started 9:01), and shift 18 (ended at 6:14) to shift 19 (started 1:16). It isn’t a huge deal by any stretch, but I would have thought Kakko would have gotten a tad more ice time in a third period that quickly became a rout.
  • And boy it would have been great had this puck gone just a little bit more to the left and avoided the post, as it would have been a huge confidence boost.
  • Lias Andersson skated 9:39 which was the fewest among all skaters. He spent 1:31 of that killing penalties, so his 5v5 TOI was a paltry 8:08 which isn’t optimal for his development.
  • If this is how the Rangers are going to continue deploying Andersson, they’d be better off swapping him with Boo Nieves for the time being.
  • The goal ultimately is to bring Filip Chytil back into the fold, but that’s something we will have to wait and see on.
  • Henrik Lundqvist, known in some corners as a washed pretty boy that’s holding up the rebuild, picked up his 451st victory of his NHL career, and is now four away from passing Curtis Joseph for fifth-most in NHL history.
  • Ed Belfour is currently No. 4 on the list at 484, and while not impossible, the King would have to win 34 more games this season to pass him.
  • Roberto Luongo sits at No. 3 (489), Patrick Roy at No. 2 (551), and No. 1 is Martin Brodeur (691) who may hold that record forever.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury currently ranks No. 7 with 446 wins, so depending on how things shake out there’s a chance Lundqvist could claim a spot in the top five this season, and then fall out. But that’s out of his control, and not something really worth worrying about.
  • The Rangers are off on Friday and Saturday, and next play on Sunday night vs. the Boston Bruins.