clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rangers vs. Lightning: What a way to kick off the show

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
  • There is something to be said for opening nights, specifically those that come after big events — be it offseason moves or a successful season. I remember opening night the summer after the Rangers acquired Rick Nash being a big deal, and I also remember that 2015 opening night after the Stanley Cup Final run pretty well. Last night felt a little different, though. There is a genuine sense of this unfinished business chip on the team’s shoulder, and the organization really leaned into it last night — in a good way.
  • So did the players. My god, I can’t remember a game that thoroughly dominated in a long, long time. If it wasn’t for a couple of flubbed opportunities and at least three insane saves by Andrei Vasilevskiy this game could have easily been 6-1.
  • From a kid’s perspective, I thought things got jumbled almost right away because of the Vitali Kravtsov injury, but we still got a good look at everyone else. Kaapo Kakko looked like a man out there, using his body really well and making things happen all night. I know we’ve said this a bunch at different stretches but he legitimately looks different this year, and the confidence is through the roof. It’s up to the coaching staff to make sure that remains. Wasn’t thrilled with the final results of his ice time, though. I thought Alexis Lafreniere was fine overall. He won’t get an assist for it, but he did a really good job keeping separation on the 2-on-1 that led to Mika Zibanejad’s gorgeous first goal of the night shorthanded.
  • As for the defense, when was the last time you could remember the Rangers icing six quality defenders with zero anchors? Zac Jones looked like he could hold his own, and had a couple of really nice defensive recoveries to boot. I’m very excited to see what he brings to the table on a night-in-night-out basis. Braden Schneider — who swapped to a big boy number this season (4) — also was fine. Didn’t notice him much one way or another, which is a good thing. Jacob Trouba might have played his best game as a Ranger — with the “C” on his chest no less — and K’Andre Miller was ... well ...
  • On Kravtsov: It’s a shame he got hurt because I was very excited to see what he was capable of doing with some Artemi Panarin time. According to Gerard Galant he’s day-to-day so we’ll see where things stand there.
  • What is there really to say about Zibanejad aside from the fact that he’s a monster and very clearly wants to rectify what happened last year? Same goes for Kreider who I thought was one of the Rangers’ best forwards all night despite not scoring on two prime opportunities. Maybe three. Or four.
  • I know he got an assist on the Barclay Goodrow goal, but I thought Ryan Carpenter was very solid in his first game as a Ranger. He’s a really good fit for an in and out fourth liner on this year, and despite limited action I thought he had a good impact on the game overall.
  • Also Igor Shesterkin. Wasn’t worked overly hard, but in a game where the Rangers needed him a couple of time he came up big.
  • I would love to tell you that has to be one of the worst officiated games that will happen this year, but we all know that’s not true. I have no earthly idea how the officials could go from calling nothing in the first period (more to the Lightning’s benefit), to the incredibly rare double penalty on the same shift to create a 5-on-3, to every penalty under the sun in the third. It’s insane.
  • I will also say that the only complaint I have about last night was Vincent Trocheck not taking the faceoff on that 5-on-3 that led to the Steven Stamkos goal.
  • Trocheck is going to be such a good fit for this team, by the way. Talk about monster performances, he was all over the ice last night, had a 63% FO% (on a night where the Rangers were genuinely winning 8 of every 10 of them), and hounded the Lightning in their own zone. I know his contract’s length isn’t great, but there was not a better fit for what the Rangers needed than Trocheck, and I think he’s going to be the oil that keeps the machine running most night.
  • One personal note: I’ve gone to opening night with my dad for the last 20 years or so. He’s in Italy right now, so I took my daughter Kaylin (who will be 5 in November). I could not have met more friendly people, and she couldn’t have had a better time. It was cool to be there with her. Start her young. (But hopefully she has a better next 29 years than I did).