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Rangers Radar: The Wolf Pack’s blue line comes out of the gate scoring

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Mika Zibanejad is off to an amazing start and Hartford’s defense contributing on offense out of the gate

New York Rangers v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It’s time for another installment of Blueshirt Banter’s Rangers Radar, where we focus the spotlight on trends in performance, production, and collect notes on players in the New York Rangers organization. As was the case last year, we will include players on the New York Rangers, the Hartford Wolf Pack, as well as Rangers prospects playing elsewhere.


New York Rangers

  • What is there to say about Mika Zibanejad’s first two games that hasn’t already been said? He’s on fire. Zibanejad started the 2019-20 season with back-to-back four-point games, including a hat trick against his former team, the Ottawa Senators. Zibanejad’s last hat trick with the Rangers came on Jan. 31, 2019 against the New Jersey Devils.
  • Through his first two games as a Ranger, Jacob Trouba has one goal, three assists, eight shots, and zero PIM. Last year, it took Trouba eight games to reach four points with the Winnipeg Jets and nine games to score his first goal of the season.
  • Artemiy Panarin has started his Rangers career with back-to-back two-point games. Both of Panarin’s goals with the Rangers have been buried on the power play, which is noteworthy because he scored just six power play goals for Columbus in 2018-19. Thus far, the Russian winger has been credited with three shots on goal.
  • Through the first two games of the season, Ryan Strome ranks fourth among Rangers forwards in 5-on-5 TOI with 26:19, followed by Kaapo Kakko (26:16). The Rangers’ top line of Zibanejad, Panarin, and Pavel Buchnevich lead all Rangers forward in 5-on-5 ice time and have a spotless 4 GF and 0 GA at 5-on-5. Small sample sizes are a hoot!

Hartford Wolf Pack

  • After being kept off the scoresheet in the Wolf Pack’s season opener, Filip Chytil picked up two assists in Hartford’s 4-3 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Sunday. Chytil’s first assist was the primary helper on Joey Keane’s second goal of the season; his second assist was picked up on Sean Day’s coast-to-coast game-winning overtime goal.
  • Keane’s first goal was scored against the Charlotte Checkers on Oct. 5. Not only was it the first goal of his professional career, it was also the first goal of the 2019-20 Wolf Pack season. Last season, John Gilmour led Hartford’s blue line with 20 goals; Chris Bigras, Rob O’Gara, Brandon Crawley, and Day were tied for second in goals among Wolf Pack defenders with three each.
  • Last season, defenseman Ryan Lindgren failed to score a goal for Hartford in 65 games. On Sunday, he scored an absolute beauty, dekeing his way through every player on the Sound Tigers to give the Wolf Pack a 3-2 lead at the end of the first period.
  • Per Vince Mercogliano, Vitali Kravtsov was a healthy scratch for the Hartford Wolf Pack on Sunday. Kravtsov was a -1 in his AHL debut and failed to register a shot on net.
  • Veteran depth forward Danny O’Regan had three assists — two of which were primary — in his Wolf Pack debut on Oct. 5. For the moment, he and Vinni Lettieri share the team lead in scoring with three points each. Lettieri is one of three players on the Wolf Pack with two goals to start the season.

Other Rangers Prospects

  • Rangers top defensive prospect K’Andre Miller was suspended by the University of Wisconsin for a violation of the team’s rules. He missed Sunday’s intra-squad game for the Badgers. Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato told Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic that the infraction was, “Nothing major. I have done the same with probably seven or eight guys already...”
  • Defenseman Nils Lundkvist already has seven points in his first eight games of the season in the SHL with Luleå HF. Last season, Lundkvist had three goals and seven assists in 41 games with Luleå. Thus far, Lundkvist is averaging 22:27 TOI/GP — despite earning 8 PIM — and is Luleå’s top scorer.
  • Goaltending prospect Olof Lindbom, the 39th overall pick of the 2018 Draft, has a .913 save percentage for Mora IK in Allsvenskan through 243:39 of hockey. Lindbom has started the season with a 2-2-0 record.
  • Swiss defensive prospect Nico Gross, the 101st overall pick of the 2018 Draft, has already amassed six points in the first seven games of the 2019-20 OHL season. Gross, who plays for the Oshawa Generals, has scored four goals on 15 shots thus far; he scored three goals on 58 shots in 56 games last season.

Adam will be posting an in-depth analysis of Gross’ start to the season tomorrow morning.

Data courtesy of TheAHL.com, NaturalStatTrick.com, shl.se, stats.swehockey.se, ontariohockeyleague.com.