New York Rangers keep Their Feint Playoff Hopes Alive

The New York Rangers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 4-1 victory of the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night. They moved back to six points behind the Boston Bruins, thanks to a Buffalo Sabres victory of the Bruins.

Alexandar Georgiev stopped 26 shots and improved to 8-5-2 on the season. He has allowed two goals or fewer in five of seven career appearances against the Flyers, including one goal or fewer in four of those games.

Chris Kreider opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 6:02 of the first period. It was his 11th power-play goal of the season, tying him for the most in the NHL.

Artemi Panarin had an assist on the Kreider goal, giving him his 100th career assist as a New York Ranger.

For Thursday night’s game, head coach David Quinn did some changing of the Blueshirts lines. One of the changes was to move Alexis Lafreniere up to the first line with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. That line was very effective as each player on that line contributed two points in the victory.

Buchnevich put the Rangers ahead 2-1 at 7:56 with his 20th, assisted by Lafreniere and Zibanejad. Lafreniere made it 3-1 at 9:24 of the third for his ninth of the season. Buchnevich and Zibanejad assisted. Zibanejad has seven goals and 10 assists this season against the Flyers, including two six-point games.

Filip Chytil completed the scoring with his eighth at 13:40, with assists to Kaapo Kakko and Panarin.

The New York Rangers rebound after a tough loss Thursday night.

“I’m just trying to learn every day at practice,” Lafreniere said in his post-game Zoom conference. “It’s fun to play with Mika and Buch and I just gotta learn from them and get better every day.”

“I thought we were a little more opportunistic,” Quinn said after the game. “I don’t think there was a big dip in our game, but the 5-on-3 kill was huge. That third goal really put us in a different mindset.”

The game was part of the “Garden of Dreams” night at MSG, a fundraising effort for that foundation. The Garden of Dreams Foundation is committed to helping children who are facing challenges such as homelessness, extreme poverty, illness, and foster care, and since it began in 2006.

The Rangers will play the Buffalo Sabres twice at MSG, on Sunday and Tuesday night.





New York Rangers hold on to Sweep the New Jersey Devils

While the New York Yankees were getting swept in the Bronx by the Tampa Bay Rays, the New York Rangers kept their playoff hopes alive by sweeping the New Jersey Devils by a score of 5-3.

Sweeping a team in baseball is somewhat common, but not so much in the NHL. According to the NHL Public Relations, the Rangers are the first team in NHL history that has won four consecutive team games that were all against the same opponent in the regular season. The NHL does not usually give teams four straight games against the same opponent, but COVID-19 has required the league to make some scheduling adjustments for this season.

The Blueshirts did not make it easy, blowing another early three-goal lead before Mika Zibanejad slammed home a power-play goal with just three minutes left in the game. Ryan Strome was awarded an empty-net goal after a P.K. Subban hooking penalty on a breakaway to make the final tally for the Rangers.

Vitali Kravtsov scored his first NHL goal at 14:03 of the first period. Chris Kreider and Alexis Lafreniere scored the other goals for the Rangers. After a bit of a slow start, Lafreniere has started to find his groove. HIs seven even-strength goals are the fifth-most among NHL rookies while his 13 even strength points are the fourth-most among NHL rookies.

Alexandar Georgiev made 10 saves on 10 shots but was helped off the ice after making a save at 17:41 of the first period. Igor Shesterkin made two saves on two shots in 2:19 of relief. Georgiev returned in the second period and finished with 25 saves.

After the game, Georgiev stated that something felt out of place with his left knee.  He credited the Ranger’s training staff for taking care of it and getting him back into play.

The New York Rangers once again have to hold off a Devils rally in the third period

In his post-game interview, Zibanejad talked about how the Rangers regrouped after the Devils had rallied to tie the game. “You try to calm down on the bench a little bit and you try not to panic. There was a lot of hockey left and we had to go back and play hockey like we should. But give them (New Jersey) credit, they work real hard.”

Georgiev also talked about how the Rangers were able to “weather the storm” when the Devils tied the game. “After the second goal, they kind of got the momentum going. I think they really wanted to break the streak. It was a great job by us to weather the storm and for Mika to get the goal.”

“I thought we had a good 2nd period,” head coach David Quinn said in his post-game Zoom conference. “That second goal gave them momentum and then all of a sudden it is three-three. We found a way to get it done. Playing a team four times in a row, no matter what league you are in, you have to find ways to win.”

The Rangers are fifth in the eight-team East Division, four points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins. Boston has two games in hand in fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot.

The Blueshirts will head travel to Nassau County to take on the Islanders on Tuesday night.





New York Rangers pick up an Important Victory over the Islanders

After a difficult loss on Thursday night, the New York Rangers rebounded to defeat the New York Islanders by a score of 4-1. Alexandar Georgiev was outstanding in goal after not seeing action for the last 11 games.

The Rangers are the second NHL team that has earned a regulation win at Nassau Coliseum this season. The Islanders came into the game with a 17-1-2 home record on the season. They have won each of their last five games at Nassau Coliseum, dating back to Feb. 16, 2015.

Alexis Lafreniere opened the scoring for the Rangers by scoring at 6:05 of the first period.

Colin Blackwell scored the second goal for the Rangers, extending his goal streak to three games, which is a new career-high. He ranks third on the Rangers in even-strength goals this season with nine.

K’Andre Miller scored the third goal for the Rangers as Mika Zibanejad added an empty-net goal to finish up the Blueshirts scoring. Miller now leads all rookie defenders in scoring.

Artemi Panarin had two assists on the night. He has 93 career assists, passing Mark Messier for the most assists by a player within his first 100 games with the franchise.

Georgiev was a big factor in the New York Rangers win.

The young Russian made 31 saves on the game, only giving up an Andy Greene goal in the second period. Georgiev hadn’t started a game since March 19.

“I haven’t played for a while,” Georgiev said in his post-game Zoom conference. “But I felt comfortable coming into it. I just did my job, the same as I usually do. It felt like kind of like a playoff game and it was really fun to take part in it.”

Georgiev gave credit to Ranger’s goaltending coach Benoit Allaire for keeping him ready while he waited to get his turn in goal. “Every practice I would come out early and spend with Benny,” Georgiev said. “A lot was more mental, trying to be better every day. Tried to take it one day at a time to make my game better.”

Head coach David Quinn was very pleased with his goaltender’s performance. “I liked a lot about his game tonight. I thought Georgie was sharp, as he usually is against the Islanders. It is not easy to sit as long as he has and come out and play the way that he did.”

The New York Rangers will face their cross-town rival again on Sunday afternoon.







The New York Rangers mid-season report card

With the New York Rangers playing just over half of their games for the 2020-21 season, it is time to assess how the Blueshirts have played to this point.

Going into Sunday night’s action, the Rangers are 13-13-4, sitting in sixth place in the East Division. They are six points behind the Boston Bruins for the fourth and final playoff spot.

Having one of the youngest teams in the league, inconsistency was to be expected, and it has happened.

New York Rangers forwards grade: C

Much of the forwards issues center around Mika Zibanejad. To be fair, his slow start could have been due to his bout with COVID-19 during training camp. Even though he will not say it, this appears to have been a huge factor in his slow start.

Nevertheless, the Ranger’s offense was not as it was last year, even though they have many of the same cast, along with the addition of the first overall pick.

In 2019-20, the Rangers averaged 3.33 goals per game to rank fifth in the NHL. This year, they are averaging 3.00 goals per game, good for just 15th place ranking in the league.

It has not helped that Artemi Panarin missed 11 games with an injury and a personal leave of absence. He was sorely missed during this time.

The Ranger’s power play has struggled, possibly missing Tony DeAngelo who did do a fine job of being the quarterback for that unit. Lost

Lost faceoffs have been an issue for the offense and the power play. too many times this season, the Ranger’s power play seems to be chasing the puck back in their own end, after losing a faceoff and having their opponents clear the puck.

New York Rangers defense-grade: B+

New assistant coach Jacques Martin has done an outstanding job of getting this unit ready for the season.

In addition to Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba, K’Andre Miller has been a pleasant surprise in his rookie season.

Last year under defensive coach Lindy Ruff, the Rangers ranked 23rd in goals against (3.14 per game) and 30th in shots allowed (34.0 per). This season, the Rangers rank 11th in goals against (2.68) and eighth in shots allowed (28.6). This is even with some inconsistent goaltending.

The penalty kill has been superb. A group that finished 23rd last season is ranked fourth this year. They are pressuring the puck more and force opposition power plays to move it quickly. The defense still needs to be a little tougher in front of the net (think Alex Ovechkin‘s two goals Friday night), but overall this unit has been very solid.

New York Rangers goaltending grade: C

The Rangers can thank Keith Kinkaid for receiving even this high of a mark.

Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev were supposed to be the one-two punch in the net for now and the future. Besides the Islander’s shutout, Georgiev has given up way too many soft goals. He is also getting himself out of position, leaving the net open for opponents. (Again, reflect back on Ovechkin’s first goal on Friday)

While Shesterkin still recovers from a “minor” groin strain, he has also been guilty of giving up too many soft goals.

Think about it, have the Rangers won a game this year when they were outplayed? No, because the goalies have been unable to steal even a single one in the first half of the season.

New York Rangers coaching grade: Incomplete

While basing head coach David Quinn has been fashionable, the reality of what is going on in the world has made it necessary to not evaluate a coaching staff until the entire season has been completed.

Plus, it would be a bit insensitive to grade a coaching staff who is sitting home due to the NHL COVID protocols. It is possible that one or even more of the coaches have contracted the virus.

While it is great to win games, one of the other tasks of a coach is to teach and develop players. One can argue that he has done that with some, and not so much with others.

Overall, Quinn and the Rangers are sitting exactly at the point in the standings that many pundits thought they would be at, and where they will be at the end of the season.

After the season is the best time, especially during a pandemic, to look at how the coaching staff has done their jobs.





New York Rangers fall on two Ovechkin third period goals

The New York Rangers took a one-goal lead into the third period, but Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the third period and the Washington Capitals rallied for their seventh consecutive win by the score of 2-1.

Artemi Panarin scored the first and only Ranger goal at 16:42 of the first period. Per the fine people at NYR Stats&Info, Panarin extended his point streak to four games. He has also registered a point in each of his last eight games against the Capitals and has tallied 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in his last five games against Washington.

Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev allowed just those two goals to Ovechkin on 18 shots in the loss.

The New York Rangers were done in by Ovechkin

Coming into the game, Ovechkin had six goals and one assist over the last 10 games for Washington.  He recorded his 147th career multi-goal game and tied Gordie Howe for fourth place on the League’s all-time list. Ovechkin has seven goals in his past seven games and 720 in the NHL, 11 behind Marcel Dionne for fifth place in NHL history.

After the game, Jacob Trouba talked about the game and the Ovechkin goals in his post-game Zoom conference. “We had some breakdowns but we liked how we played. He had a couple of rebounds in the last five minutes, it’s tough to lose that way. That is a team that has been playing really well and they have some high-powered offensive weapons.”

Acting coach Kris Knoblauch said in his post-game Zoom conference that “I think on the first Ovechkin goal it was a matter of sorting out who was the first man back. Goal scorers find a way to score goals and usually it is around the net. It was a small mistake but ultimately you can’t keep him off the score sheet all the time.”

There was a little bit of good news on Friday, as the Rangers reported that goaltender Igor Shesterkin skated Friday morning and remains day to day with a strained groin. Keith Kinkaid backed up Georgiev while Shesterkin missed his eighth consecutive game since getting injured on March 4.

The two teams will square off again in Washington with a 7 p.m. puck drop.



New York Rangers rally behind substitute coaches in beating the Flyers 9-0

On an unusual night, the New York Rangers showed some unusual offensive prowess in beating the Philadelphia Flyers 9-0.

What made this game unusual was that head coach David Quinn and assistants Jacques Martin, David Oliver, and Greg Brown were not available for the game. They are were out due to the NHL COVID-19 protocol guidelines.

Kris Knoblauch, coach of Hartford of the American Hockey League, the Rangers’ affiliate, replaced Quinn as acting coach for the game. Hartford associate coach Gord Murphy and Rangers associate general manager Chris Drury were the assistants.

The Rangers responded in a big way with their 9 goal output. In his post-game Zoom interview, goalie Alexandar Georgiev said of the nine-goal effort: “I have no words, to be honest. It was surreal. I obviously tried to focus on my job but you could not ignore how unbelievable the guys were playing.” Georgiev stopped all 26 shots to earn the shutout victory. This was a big win for the young goaltender after being pulled in his last two games.

Mika Zibanejad tallied six points in the New York Ranger victory

Mika Zibanejad was nothing short of brilliant in tying an NHL record by scoring six points in the second period of the New York Rangers’ win. Zibanejad scored a natural hat trick and had three assists to join former New York Islanders center Bryan Trottier as the only players to score six points in a period of an NHL game.

Pavel Buchnevich scored four points (two goals, two assists) after missing the game Monday, a 5-4 overtime loss against the Flyers because he was on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list. Buchnevich was only told of him being eligible to play this morning. After the game, he told the media that “I don’t know what was going on there, I have the antibodies.”

Artemi Panarin, Brendan Lemieux, and Filip Chytil also scored goals for the Rangers.

In his post-game Zoom conference, Zibanejad talked about how the team came together after hearing about the coaches who were placed on the list. “You get a little shock when you hear that, you just have to be able to adapt. We came together as a group and played for each other.”

They will need to come together regardless of who is on the bench as the Rangers travel to Washington on Friday and Saturday to take on the division-leading Capitals.





The New York Rangers shutout in “frustrating” loss to Boston

New York Rangers, Mika Zibanejad

Normally, an article about the New York Rangers would start with a little summary of what happened in the game. Not tonight. This article is going to jump right into post-game comments after a very poor showing in a 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins.

In his post-game Zoom conference, Jacob Trouba explained that the Rangers were trying to give it their full effort on the ice. “I don’t think it spiraled out of control. Obviously, we had some breakdowns that led to goals, but I don’t think it totally fell off a cliff.”

“Frustrating.” head coach David Quinn said in his post-game Zoom conference. “I thought we had a good start, was playing well, and had some chances early. The short-handed goal was the backbreaker in a lot of ways. You could kind of sense it. They got goals on their chances and we didn’t.”

Quinn was also disappointed by the lack of production from the Ranger’s power-play. “Our power-play obviously has to be fixed. They get a power-play goal and special teams were really the difference tonight.”

Echoing Jacob Trouba’s comments, Quinn said that “We kept competing right up to the buzzer. We got down 4-0 and it could have got ugly but we kept playing. There are certainly some positives to take out of it and we have to dust ourselves off and get ready to play Saturday afternoon.”

Quinn also mentioned that a lot of the issues for the Rangers was that when they make mistakes, they are big mistakes. This helps explain why the Rangers have been outscored 13-3 in their last three losses.

Takeaways from the New York Rangers loss to Boston

For the second straight time that he has started, Alexandar Georgiev was pulled during the game with just under five minutes gone in the second period. The young Russian gave up four goals in fourteen shots. On the four goals, Boston scored shorthanded, even strength, and on the power play.

Keith Kinkaid finished the game for the Blueshirts by stopping all 13 shots he faced.

Up until tonight, the Rangers had been outstanding in killing penalties. They had not allowed a power-play goal in 15 of their last 17 games, including nine of the last 10 games and each of the last seven games. The Rangers had killed off 54 of their opponents’ 58 power-play opportunities over the last 18 games and have held their opponents to only 73 shots on goal during their opponents’ 58 power-play opportunities over the span.

The two teams will play again Saturday afternoon.



Who will the New York Rangers start in goal on Tuesday night?

The New York Rangers have a bit of a quandary for Tuesday night’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins. After Alexandar Georgiev was pulled in Sunday night’s loss, many will wonder if head coach David Quinn will give the young Russian another chance. However, the decision is not quite that easy considering that Kieih Kinkaid played very well in relief. He did give up two goals on odd-man rushes but otherwise was quite solid in net.

After Sunday night’s game, Quinn said that it has not given any thought on who would start in net on Tuesday night. As the Rangers did not practice on Monday, we have no idea who will start. If Igor Shesterkin is healthy, he would probably get the nod. But we may not know what is going on until the morning skate at the earliest. Even though Shesterkin’s groin pull was listed as minor, it would still appear that playing Tuesday night might be rushing things too quickly. So the decision may come down to Georgiev vs. Kinkaid.

Why the New York Rangers would start Keith Kinkaid

The biggest reason would be that he played well on Sunday night, even though he had not seen NHL action since  Nov. 30, 2019, as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

Teammate Jacob Trouba had some good things to say about Kinkaid’s game during his post-game Zoon conference. “Especially me over the last two weeks, I got to see him a lot in practice and how he’s working and staying sharp,” Trouba said. “He got a chance to get in there, and he made some big saves for us and definitely kept us in that game as long as he could. He made some huge saves and it’s good to see out of him, seeing how hard he works and knowing the kind of guy he is. It’s positive for everyone to see.”

Quinn knows about Kinkaid from their college days when Kinkaid was the goaltender for Union College. The Rangers signed him for two years the last offseason.  While having an extra goalie during COVID-19 was needed, they wanted to have a qualifying goalie under contract to expose in the Seattle expansion draft. This way, they could keep both Shesterkin and Georgiev.

Even despite the three goals in 61 seconds against Pittsburgh, Georgiev was a little shaky against the Devils on Saturday afternoon. MSG analyst Steve Valiquette made a very solid point during the telecast. He pointed out that on P.K Subban’s slapshot goal from the blue line, this was a shot the Georgiev usually stops. Valiquette stated that Georgiev, when he has a clear view, had not allowed a goal on 257 shots from that distance in the last three years.

Why Georgiev will start for the New York Rangers

From a confidence standpoint, Quinn may want to start Georgiev so that the young netminder does not lose confidence in himself. At this point, everyone knows what Georgiev is capable of doing in goal. Putting him right back in there would signal that the Rangers have confidence in his abilities.

It should also be noted that Georgiev is not solely responsible for these goals. In the second New Jersey goal that temporarily tied the game, Adam Fox got caught up ice on a turnover, and Filip Chytil was beaten to the net.

The second of the three Penguin goals happened in part because K’Andre Miller fell at the blue line. On the third goal, Sidney Crosby split two defenders and beat Georgiev. Crosby has beat many of a goaltender during his time in the NHL.

So the Rangers have a bit of a small goalie controversy going into Tuesday night’s game. It will be interesting to see who the Rangers decide on to be their goalie when the puck drops at 6 p.m.









New York Rangers doomed by poor stretch of 61 seconds in loss to Penguins

New York Rangers

The game started well for the New York Rangers. After scoring an early first-period goal, the Pittsburgh Penguins scored three times in a matter of 61 seconds late in the first en route to a 5-1 victory.

Mika Zibanejad opened the scoring for the Rangers with a goal at the 1:18 mark of the first period. Pavel Buchnevich had the primary assist, which was his 100th career NHL assist. After a slow start to the season, Zibanejad has tallied a point in three of the last four games (one goal, two assists). He has now registered six points (two goals, four assists) in the last eight games.

Zibanejad was not really in a celebrating mood after the game saying in his Zoom conference: “It didn’t really matter this game, so we’ll just move on.”

Penguins quick three goals doom the New York Rangers

That was because the Penguins scored those three goals at the end of the first period. John Marino tied it 1-1 at 16:13, two seconds after a Penguins power play expired. Kaspari Kapanen then scored on a breakaway to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead at 16:52. Sidney Crosby made it 3-1 at 17:14. After taking a pass from Brian Dumoulin, Crosby split the Rangers defense before scoring.

After the three-goal outburst, Alexandar Georgiev was pulled in favor of Keith Kinkaid, who had 16 saves in relief. He gave up two late third-period goals on odd-man rushes but was solid throughout his time in net.

Head coach David Quinn did not commit on which goaltender he would start on Tuesday night.

The Rangers played well in the second period and for most of the third period after the disastrous minute in the third period.

Jacob Trouba said after the game in his Zoom conference that the Rangers tried to regroup after the first period but added “Give the Penguins some credit too, they got the lead and they played a pretty tight game defensively.”

The Rangers and Penguins will tangle again on Tuesday night, part of NBCSN’s Hockey Happy Hour. The puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m.


The New York Rangers have another strong offensive game in defeating the Devils

New York Rangers, Ryan Strome

The New York Rangers scored six goals in a game for the second time in two games against the New Jersey Devils. On Saturday, this resulted in a 6-3 victory over the Devils. The Rangers have tallied at least six goals in two consecutive road games against the Devils for the first time since they moved to New Jersey prior to the start of the 1982-83 season.

Ryan Strome scored twice while Adam Fox, Kevin Rooney Libor Hajek, and Filip Chytil also scored for the Blueshirts.

Alexandar Georgiev stopped 24 shots and also picked up an assist on Fox‘s coast-to-coast power-play goal. It was his fourth career NHL assist.

Julien Gauthier had two assists, posting a multi-assist game, and a multi-point game for the first time in his NHL career.

Not only was it the second straight game with six goals, but the Rangers have also had many players contribute to the effort. Five different Blueshirts have tallied a goal and 11 different NYR have recorded at least one point. The Rangers have tallied 9 goals over the last 4 periods, and 9 different players have tallied a goal over the span (Kreider, Buchnevich, Smith, Lafrenière, Fox, Strome, Rooney, Hajek, Chytil), per NYR Stats&Info.

Many of the young Rangers contributed to the effort in the win. Per NYR Stats&Info, six Ranger players 23 years old or younger have tallied a point in the win (Fox, Kakko, Chytil, Gauthier, Hajek, Miller). At least one player 23 years old or younger has recorded a point on each of the team’s four goals thus far in the game.

Head coach David Quinn praised his young players during his post-game Zoom conference. “Look how quickly they have adapted,” Quinn said. “I give these kids a lot of credit, it is not easy to develop in the National Hockey League. This isn’t a league where you develop. It’s a dramatic change in their hockey life.”

Filip Chytil makes a welcome return for the New York Rangers

Chytil had a goal and an assist, playing in only his ninth game this season after suffering an injury. After the game, he talked about returning to play after not playing in five weeks in his post-game Zoom conference. “Today it felt like a good game from my side, but it could have been better. Of course, I am playing wing now instead of center, but I am happy for the two points for the team.”

Quinn also talked about the return of Chytil to the team. “There was certainly more flashes of his speed, the things he can do for us offensively, pushing people back and generate offense. He is still finding his way with the injury he had.”

Hockey Day in America takes place this Sunday, March 7 with a quadruple-header on NBC and NBCSN. The Rangers will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins in the finale of the four games, with a puck drop at 7:30 p.m.