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Rangers vs. Stars: The true season opener

NHL: Dallas Stars at New York Rangers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
  • I would have told you in a lot of ways the New York Rangers got unlucky against the Washington Capitals Wednesday night. Did they dig their own grave? Well, with a lineup built to punch Tom Wilson in the face (without, you know, punching Tom Wilson in the face) and a series of penalties and toothless penalty kills they probably deserved what they got. I will also argue the Rangers got very unlucky Thursday night.
  • Sometimes the puck just doesn’t bounce your way. While Dallas missed the net on a few Grade-A chances in the first (it could have easily been 3-0 at the first intermission), the Rangers equally missed some glorious opportunities and got robbed by the combined duo of Braden Holtby and Anton Khudobin respectively. Honestly, as much as the Rangers could have been down 3-0 at the end of the first they should have been up 4-1 at the end of the second. It happens.
  • A big reason why the Rangers didn’t win was the power play’s inability to finish. I thought the power play looked a little hesitant at times, but overall the Rangers generated the number of chances you’d want to see with the man advantage and moved the puck well overall. Mika Zibanejad flubbed a few open look shots, but the Rangers at the very least had a netfront presence and did what they could to be in the dirty areas. Eventually those pucks will go in and the Rangers will walk away with a full two points.
  • This deserves a bullet point of its own: being at the game and watching Artemiy Panarin, it looks like he’s hurt or at the very least tweaked. A few times in the third he had an opportunity to walk the puck into a soft area of the ice and let it go — especially on the man advantage — and simply waited to pull a defender and fed it off to Adam Fox. He didn’t take a single slap shot despite being fed the puck in open areas on the power play. In overtime he looked slow, too.
  • Fox, by the way, is a level of brilliance I can’t even articulate here. The kid is 23 and might be the Rangers’ most dangerous all-around offensive threat. Every time he touches the puck he does something special. Those little moves to buy space are insane, and they work most of the time he does them. Patience is key in a lot of respects at the point, and he’s got a ton of it.
  • I think one of the most noticeable forward the past two games was Kaapo Kakko. The kid is learning how to use his size and won a slew of battles along the boards. He’s going to the dirty areas of the ice and is making things happen. A confident Kakko is the best thing for the Rangers right now, since his skillset is both good and hockey and an enormous ox-like body that can actually do damage where the Rangers need him to.
  • I thought Nils Lundkvist played a solid game for his NHL debut. He got screwed over a little at the end of the first with a horrific Nemeth pass that he then botched the recovery on, but aside from that I thought he moved the puck well in general and looked really good on the power play. He had some jittery misses from the point that should have been better shots, but I really love the fact the Rangers have two quality power play quarterbacks to run the show with the man advantage.
  • Igor Shesterkin was a … welcomed … addition compared to what we go from Georgiev on Wednesday. While he probably could have done a little more on the OT winner, I thought Shesterkin made some really big saves throughout the night that kept the Rangers in it when Dallas wasn’t otherwise doing all that much on offense.
  • Aside from the penalty barrage, I thought the Rangers played a pretty solid defensive game against Washington — well until things got out of hand. I think the Rangers were similarly solid against Dallas, and did some pretty good work keep the puck on their sticks for a lot of the night. Not horrible at all.
  • Jacob Trouba is going to be a topic of conversation for the next few years because of the contract, but I thought he was one of the better players for the Rangers last night.
  • I commented this on Twitter, but the start of the year was always going to be rocky. The Rangers are asking a lot more of the kids in terms of next steps, and they’re in the process of learning a new system. That makes these early games where you can bank points super important. It’s going to be an ongoing topic of conversation from me probably through Thanksgiving. Get ready for it.