- I was not feeling optimistic about the Rangers heading into Tuesday’s game after the throttling they took vs. the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
After a 7-4 loss the Rangers are off Monday. Up next on Tuesday...— Tom Urtz Boooonier (@TomUrtzJr) October 28, 2019
Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, and the rest of the Tampa Bay Lightning ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/kjR4U0h4VO
- But boy did the Rangers, specifically the “yutes” in the lineup, take care of business and prove me wrong.
- Mika Zibanejad missed the game vs. Tampa after leaving Sunday’s game vs. the Bruins with an injury, and Filip Chytil was called up to take his place in the lineup. Ryan Lindgren was also recalled, and at the time no one knew who he would be replacing, if anyone for that matter.
- We all learned slightly before puck drop that Marc Staal was named a healthy scratch for the first time of his career, and it happened on a night in which the organization recognized his long time defense partner and teammate Dan Girardi.
- The decision to healthy scratch Staal isn’t a shocker based on how he’s played this season, and how he skated last season, but I never thought it would have been on Tuesday. Staal will turn 33 in January, and it will be interesting to see if this is a sign of things to come for the veteran defender whose contract expires after next season.
Here's what DQ said about sitting Marc Staal tonight.— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) October 30, 2019
"It was just something that I felt was needed and was the best thing for our team right now," adding, "Listen, we want to run a meritocracy here and guys who are playing well will continue to play."#NYR #NHL
- There was some commentary from some beat writers about fans and how they’ve talked about Staal, and all I will say is that it was stupid for the most part.
- Fans appreciate Marc Staal the person, and Marc Staal the player prior to his injuries and decline. When he is making $5.7 million a year and getting in the way of kids while playing well below replacement level hockey, fans are going to complain about it.
- As for the actual game, it was one in which the kids took over, as you can see by the 5v5 expected goal differential leaders below.
- Kaapo Kakko, who had a decent game 5v5, picked up his second career NHL goal on the power play, and it took a fortuitous bounce off the pad of Andrei Vasilevskiy, and then redirected off Braydon Coburn before entering the net.
- This goal will be a huge confidence booster for Kakko, and was well deserved with how involved in the offense he was getting. I don’t know how many goals he will score like this one the rest of the year, but you take the bounces and keep on moving along.
- The second goal of the game was scored by the recently recalled Chytil, and his stick work tipping the feed from Pavel Buchnevich (eight points in 10 games to start the season) is something the team will benefit from going forward.
- The third goal of the game was scored by Adam Fox, and he was the beneficiary of a very snake-bitten Chris Kreider whose shot generated a rebound for him to take straight to the bank.
- The Fantastic Mr. Fox has been the Rangers’ best defender from an underlying metrics standpoint this season, and he has now picked up a goal and an assist over the last three games played. He’s more than due to go on a little bit of a run offensively, and it would be a deserved one based on how he’s carried himself 10 games into his NHL career.
- Ryan Strome scored the Blueshirts’ fourth goal, and his empty-netter was his third goal and 10th! point of the season to date. I don’t think anyone expected this from him to start the season, but it is something to enjoy as long as it does last.
- Another game, another display of how good a player Artemiy Panarin is. He picked up his fifth assist of the season, and was involved all night long pressing the play, and finished the game tied for second on the team with four shots on goal.
- Alexandar Georgiev picked up his first victory of the season making 29 saves on 30 shots. He was tested throughout the game by a potent Lightning offense, and the lone goal he allowed is hard to pin on him as the entire team went for a line change and then Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov skated up the ice and took advantage.
- Lindgren also had a decent game, and finished with a CF% of 47.15, and an xGF% of 71.03 per Evolving-Hockey which should keep him in the lineup vs. Nashville over Marc Staal.
- Lias Andersson skated 8:48, and at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s sent down to Hartford when Mika Zibanejad comes back. There’s no point to use him the way the Rangers have (9:59 a game this season), and I am not sure why he’s not getting the opportunities Brett Howden (15:24 a game this season) is getting.
- Andersson has one assist in 112:42 of total time on ice, whereas Howden has three points (two of which came vs. Buffalo) in 154:01.
- Prior to Tuesday’s game Andersson had a CF% of 36.15 to Howden’s 37.56, both of which suck, but had an edge in xGF% with his rate of 42.57 vs. Howden’s 32.81 per Evolving-Hockey.
- Because of Andersson deployment there’s no way of knowing if his performance is truly being tanked by his linemates, but if David Quinn were to give him a chance to prove himself we probably would learn more.
- The Rangers are off on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and next play in Nashville on Saturday afternoon vs. the Predators.