New York Rangers continue to win on strength of the young guns

Oct 21, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) celebrates with New York Rangers left wing Sammy Blais (91) after a win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are having a fantastic road trip as their winning streak hits three consecutive games following Thursday’s 3-1 victory over Nashville.

Winning hockey games can help teams bond. For the New York Rangers, winning hockey has now earned the team three straight wins and points in their last four games (3-0-1).

Head coach Gerard Gallant has been able to find the right line combinations, despite some injuries, the red hot play of goalie Igor Shesterkin has given the Rangers their best start to begin a season (7 points) through five games since the 2009-10 season (8 points).

Thursday night’s lineup was constructed differently. With Ryan Strome and Kappo Kakko still unable to play, Gallant decided to put his two top stars together again.

Mika Zibanejad centered Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider. The trio didn’t record any points but played a strong game driving to the net and causing chaos in the Predator’s end.

The Young Guns

The night belonged to the kids.

Gallant put together a second line of Filip Chytil (22 yrs. old) centering Alexis Lafreniere ( 20 yrs. old) and Sammy Blais (25 yrs. old). The three seemed to hit the ice flying and were in the mix for the first two goals. The first-period backhander by Chytil gave the team a 1-0 lead.

The Rangers’ second goal, scored by Lafreniere, was a small glimpse of the potential these kids have. Norris trophy winner Adam Fox intercepted a pass, skated down the right side of the ice, and threaded a needle pass to Blais.

Not to be outdone by his defenseman, Blais then toe dragged the puck as he split two Predator players just in front of the Nashville goaltender, then chipped a pass to his left onto the stick of Lafreniere who proceeded to put the puck into the net.

Shesterkin Wall

Igor Shesterkin had found his groove early on this season. During this three-game winning streak, (wins over Montreal, Toronto, and Nashville) he has stopped 99 of the 102 shot’s he has faced which is good for a .971 save percentage. 

Three goals against made him pretty unbeatable and is another display of how well things are going on this road trip.

Adam Fox

Adam Fox has points in four of five games this season (1G-3A). Since the beginning of last season, Fox’s 51 points are tied with Victor Hedman for the most in the NHL among defensemen.

The kid, just 23-years-old, does everything on the ice for his team. His great speed along with vision across the whole sheet of ice directly lead to the game-winning goal on Thursday night. 

Head coach Gallant has been trying to limit Fox’s minutes, yet he is still averaging 25:25 minutes on ice per game. Gallant will ride this horse until he’s forced to slow down. 

A balance of veteran players and fearless kids is slowly transforming into a winning combination. They play hard in all three zones, for an entire game. No one player is more important than the other, but all know their responsibilities during games.

Now if they can only find an answer to the power-play.