How will Vitali Kravtsov fit in the New York Rangers lineup?

One team’s loss is the New York Ranger’s gain.

Now that the KHL’s Traktor team has been eliminated from the playoffs, Vitali Kravtsov is expected to join the Rangers very soon. The ninth overall pick in 2018 NHL will have to go through a few pandemic and non-pandemic hurdles before playing in games. Kravtsov will have to go through the visa process in traveling from Russia to the states. He will have to satisfy the proper COVID-19 protocols, which should take roughly 10-to-14 days.

Kravtsov’s appearance in a Rangers jersey is eagerly anticipated, especially after having a fine season in the KHL. He finished the KHL season with 16 goals and 24 points in 49 games. Even though his Traktor team was eliminated in 5 games, Kravtsov did score two goals and have two assists in that round.

Now he brings his skills to broadway, but the big question will be on how the Rangers will use him in their lineup.

The New York Rangers should bring Kravtsov along somewhat slowly

Even though Kravtsov has been playing hockey, and playing well, he will unlikely jump right into the first two lines. The KHL is not the NHL. Having him jump into even a third line, along with possible young teammates of Alexis Lafreniere and Filip Chytil, is not likely.

Depending on how things shake out after satisfying protocols, Kravtsov could spend time on the taxi squad. The Rangers may decide to give him time to skate with and get acclimated with his new teammates. If ends up looking ready for NHL play, he will probably start on the fourth line. Many need to remember that he struggled to adapt to the North American game after signing his entry-level contract in May 2019.

After a tough 2019-20 season, Kravtsov did return for the summer restart, which seemed to reinforce his commitment. It was also reported that he participated in the summer session with an improved attitude. It was also reported from scouts and sources from the Rangers that noted his improved physicality, defensive-zone coverage, and willingness to work in dangerous areas of the ice.

Whether it is sometime later this year or at the beginning of next, Kravtsov will end up spending a lot of time in the top nine for the Blueshirts.

Head coach David Quinn believes that your line placement will be based on merit. However, at some point, the Rangers will want to see their young forward will more skilled players versus the fourth-line grinders.

Much of that will depend on how well Kravtsov has taken to heart the lessons he learned from last year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Kreider’s hat trick leads New York Rangers to win over New Jersey

New York Rangers

You are not reading the game reports from Feb 24. Chris Kreider did get another hat trick on Thursday night to lead the New York Rangers to a 6-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Pavel Buchnevich, Brendan Smith, and Alexis Lafreniere scored the other goals.

The Rangers have tallied five goals in a road game at New Jersey (not including the 2014 Stadium Series, which was technically a Rangers road game at Yankee Stadium) for the first time since Dec.12, 2008.

Igor Shesterkin had 32 saves before leaving late in the third period due to an injury. Alexandar Georgiev came to relieve him and recorded three saves.

After the game head coach David Quinn said in his Zoom conference that Shesterkin has a lower-body injury and that the team will know more tomorrow morning.

If Shesterkin has to miss any time, Keith Kinkaid would likely be called up from the taxi squad.

Chris Kreider gets the second hat trick of the season for the New York Rangers.

With his second hat trick in his last five games, Kreider has recorded a goal/point in five of the last six games. Coming into the game, he was tied for eighth in the NHL in power-play goals and is tied for 13th in the NHL in goals this season, and will be moving up those ranks after tonight’s performance. In addition, Kreider is one of only two NHL players who have registered at least 10 goals and 40 hits this season. He is easily been the catalyst for the Blueshirts recently, has nine goals and two assists over the last 11 games.

There are other New York Rangers who extended streaks.

In addition to his own goal, Lafreniere earned an assist on the Buchnevich goal. He has tallied a point in five of the last six games. He also tallied his first multi-point game in the NHL. Speaking of Buchnevich, he has tallied eight points (four goals, four assists) in the last eight games. He leads the Rangers in points at 5-on-5 this season, and he has notched a point in eight of the team’s nine wins in 2020-21.

Mika Zibanejad spends a large period of time on the New York Rangers bench.

After having only just over three minutes of ice team in the first period, Mika Zibanejad spent the first part of the second period on the bench. He finished with just over 13 minutes of ice-time for the game but did get an assist on the Lafreniere goal.

When asked about Zibanejad’s playing time Quinn said: “I think he’s letting the stats and all the pressure slow him down a little bit. I think it’s getting to him. This is a guy that’s been a fearless and courageous player. He is just trying to find his game.” Quinn also added that he thought Zibnejad played better after the benching.

The two teams will play again on Saturday with a 1 p.m. puck drop.

New York Rangers quick start is enough to hold off the Buffalo Sabres

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

The New York Rangers scored twice in the first two-and-half minutes of the first period and held off the Buffalo Sabres for a 3-2 victory. Pavel Buchnevich and Alexis Lafreniere recorded the first two goals, with Chris Kreider adding the game winner in the second period.

The Rangers continue their season-long trend of close games. Thirteen of the Rangers’ last 17 games, and 13 of the team’s 19 games this season, have been decided by two or fewer goals, and 10 of those contests have been decided by one goal.

Chris Kreider scores the game winning goal for the New York Rangers

Kreider‘s tenth goal of the season turned out to be the game winning goal for the Rangers, putting them up 3-1. The Sabres were able to close the gap with a Tobias Reider goal but could come no closer. Kreider has recorded a goal/point in four of the last five games. He is one of four NHL players who have registered at least nine goals and 40 hits this season.

Adam Fox had two assists in the game, including Kreider’s game winner. Fox also continues to be a bit of an ironman for the Blueshirts, especially since the absence of Jacob Trouba.  He has led the Rangers in ice time in each of the last 10 games, and he ranks 12th in the NHL in average ice time this season (24:53).

After the game, Fox talked about the solid defensive effort the Rangers had, especially in the third period. “They were in our zone but didn’t have too many grade A chances. And when they did, Shesty came up big.”

Igor Shesterkin made some critical saves for the New York Rangers

Shesterkin recorded 22 saves in the win with just five in the third period, However, many of his saves were on plays in which the Sabres had an excellent chance to slam the puck in the back of the net.

The Rangers defense and goaltending continue to do well in recent games. They have held their opponents to two goals or fewer in seven of the last 11 games (including two goals or fewer in regulation in eight games) and in eight of the last 13 games. The Blueshirts have allowed 2.68 goals against per game in 2020-21, which is the ninth-fewest in the NHL.

After the game in his Zoom Conference, Shesterkin said through his translator: “In the first period, it wasn’t a great thing when the first shot went in but the guys rallied and helped me out and we took care of business the rest of the game.”

The Rangers now embark on a six game road trip, starting Thursday with the New Jersey Devils.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Rangers give fans a physical victory over the Boston Bruins

The New York Rangers and their fans have waited for this since March 5th, 2020, the last time fans saw the Blueshirts play in person. The roughly 2,000 fans in attendance were treated to a 6-2 victory over the Boston Bruins.

A couple of weeks ago, the state of New York announced that fans would be allowed to attend games at 10% capacity. Friday night marked the first home game that the Rangers had the opportunity to welcome fans. The fans that attended were treated to a Blueshirt offensive outburst and well as an outstanding physical effort.

Having fans obviously energized the Rangers, as they outhit the Bruins 17-8 after the first period. They finished up the game outhitting Boston 32-28.

New York Rangers set a season-high in goals scored

Julian Gauthier started things off for the Rangers with his second goal of the season. He recorded his first career NHL goal against Boston on Feb. 10 at MSG.

Ryan Strome scored a goal off an excellent pass from Alexis Lafreniere, who picked up his first NHL assist. After a Patrice Bergeron goal, The Rangers scored twice within twelve seconds at the end of the second period. Colin Blackwell tipped in an Adam Fox shot for a power-play goal. Chris Kreider then scored the fourth Rangers goal just twelve seconds later.

Strome picked up three points in the second period with his goal and picked up assists in the other two goals. He is leading the Rangers in 5-on-5 goals (six) and even-strength goals (six) this season. He extended his point streak to four games.

For Blackwell, he has now recorded a point in four of the last five games (three goals, one assist).  He has also tallied a point in seven of 10 games with the Rangers (four goals, three assists).

Pavel Buchnevich and Jonny Brodskinski scored third-period goals for the Rangers.

Before tonight, the Ranger’s best offensive effort came when they scored five goals against the New York Islanders on January 16.

Alexandar Georgiev had 31 saves in the win.

The New York Rangers were very grateful for having fans in the stands

After the game, Ryan Strome talked about having fans back at MSG. “It was crazy, honestly. 2,000 people or whatever it was felt like it was very full. I had some goosebumps during the national anthem and it has been a while since I felt those. They definitely brought us energy.”

After the game, head coach David Quinn echoed Strome’s comments about having fans in attendance. “I don’t think that any of us expected the impact that they would make. They were incredibly loud and passionate. When you heard about how many people they were going to allow you would not think they would have an impact. But they did have an impact. We can’t thank our fans enough and we appreciate the support give us.”

The two teams will play again on Sunday at MSG with a noon puck drop.

 

 

 

Why other rookies are doing well when the New Rangers Alexis Lafreniere has not

Even after scoring his second goal on Saturday, New York Ranger’s rookie Alexis Lafreniere still sits way down the list of NHL rookies in scoring. Going into Sunday, Lafreniere was tied for 36th among all rookies, somewhat unexpected for the overall number one draft pick. While COVID-19 and the effects that it has had on the NHL season, there are a couple of other factors why other rookies have gotten off to better starts.

Lack of top-level experience has hampered the New York Ranger’s rookie

Sitting atop of the rookie point leaders is the Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov. The first stat to note about Kaprizov is that he is 23 years old. So in addition to being able to legally buy a drink in the states, Kaprizov has a  higher level of experience than Lafreniere.

Kaprizov has been playing regularly in the KHL since the 2016-17 season. During his final season with CSKA Moscow in 2019–20, Kaprizov set career highs marks with 33 goals, 29 assists, and 62 points. He tied his career-best in games played with 57. His 33 goals led the KHL for the second straight season and his 62 points ranked third in scoring.

At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Kaprizov was the youngest player on the Russian team He scored the game-winning goal in overtime that won the Russians. the Gold Medal.

With all due respect to Canada and their junior leagues, the QMJHL is not the KHL. Kaprizov has been playing in a league for a few years that is just a notch below the NHL. Time will tell whether Lafreniere produces at the same level as others but will need some playing time in the NHL to make up for the lack of experience.

The New York Ranger’s Alexis Lafreniere had not played a game since last March

The Chicago Blackhawks Pius Suter sits just a point behind Kaprizov in rookie points. Like Kaprizov, the 24-year-old Suter has had the advantage of playing pro hockey for a few years in the Swiss League. In fact, Suter finished the 2019–20 season as the league’s top scorer with 53 points, including 30 goals, in 50 regular-season games. He was also named MVP of the regular season.

Suter also had the advantage of playing some hockey in the fall whether many other players did not. After signing with the Blackhawks last summer, Suter remained in Switzerland and was loaned by the Blackhawks to return to ZSC Lions’ affiliate, the GCK Lions.  Then in early November, with the NHL future still uncertain, Suter officially returned to the ZSC Lions. After making six appearances with the Lions, Suter was recalled from loan by the Blackhawks in late December to joining the team for training camp.

Many have stated that Lafreniere should have played for Team Canada in the most recent World Juniors Championships. However, it was the same Blackhawks who lost their top prospect for most of the season with a wrist injury in that same tournament.

Maybe the best thing to remember is that Lafreniere is only 19-years-old. So really all that has happened here was that due to COVID-19, others were given a big head start for a race and a career that is a marathon, and not a sprint.

 

 

 

 

New York Rangers: Which Line Combo is Best For Alexis Lafrenière?

New York Rangers rookie Alexis Lafrenière has struggled to adjust to the NHL – and it’s obvious. Despite getting more than 14 minutes of ice time each game, the seventh-most among forwards on the team, he has tallied just a single point in 12 games. Rangers coach David Quinn has done his best to try and get the 2020 No. 1 overall pick going, but nothing has worked thus far. Coach Quinn’s favorite method of attempting to solve Lafrenière’s struggles has been mixing up his line-mates almost every game. Through the first 12 games of the season, the rookie has been a member of six different line combos, by far the most on the team. Here’s which combos have worked well, and others not so much:

Which Line Combo Has Worked Best for Alexis Lafrenière?

The Lines:

Lafrenière-Chytil-Gauthier

Very few probably remember that this line even existed. The third-line for the first game of the season, the three found little success while on the ice together. The line existed for only that first game and hasn’t been seen since. It must be said that perhaps coach Quinn decided to switch things up a little prematurely. After all, it was Lafrenière’s first career game and he had no preseason games to help build chemistry.

The rookie registered one shot with the line, took his lone penalty of the season, and had a -1 plus/minus in 13 minutes of ice time.

Panarin-Strome-Lafrenière

For his second career NHL game Alexis Lafrenière was moved up to the second-line. There were questions about how Lafrenière would fair playing on the right side, as he had played almost exclusively left wing while in Rimouski, but he ended up playing very well. In his first game with the line he had his best plus/minus of the season – +2. He also totaled three shots, tied for his second-most in a game.

The following game didn’t have the same success unfortunately. In 14 minutes of ice time Lafrenière managed to get only one shot on goal and had a -1 plus/minus.

Lafrenière-Zibanejad-Kreider

In an attempt to give a scoring-spark to the rookie, coach Quinn moved the No. 1 overall pick up to the first line. On paper, the idea seemed great. Kreider’s high hockey-IQ and Zibanejad’s otherworldly goal-scoring ability would certainly provide scoring chances for Lafrenière, right? Well, not so much.

The first-line was not only a poor fit for Lafrenière, it was also statistically the worst line he was a member of. In two games, he registered just one shot and posted a -2 plus/minus while averaging 17 minutes of ice time in the two contests.

Lafrenière-Howden-Kakko

Another one-hit-wonder, the “under age 22” line existed for only one game. I personally wish coach Quinn gave this line another game to build chemistry. Something about young, underrated players on the same line works very well. For example, the line of Di Giuseppe-Chytil-Kakko that existed earlier this season was stellar prior to Chytil’s injury.

Notching three shots in under 15 minutes with the line, Lafrenière looked very comfortable.

Lafrenière-Zibanejad-Buchnevich

Despite struggling mightily on the first-line two games prior, the rookie returned to the top line and showed great improvement in the January 28th contest against the Sabres. In 15 minutes of ice time, Lafrenière tallied four shots on goal, his season-high. He also scored his first, and only, NHL point in the game – an overtime goal to give the Rangers a 3-2 win.

It must be pointed out that the goal occurred in a 3-on-3 format, not the typical 5-on-5. Meaning Lafrenière still has not accounted for a point with any five-man line this season.

The line would end up playing four total games together, double the number any other Lafrenière line played. In those four games, he totaled nine shots and a 0 plus/minus. Having Buchnevich, a true right-winger, on the opposite side helped immensely.

Lafrenière-Howden-Di Giuseppe

The most recent line combo created by the jigsaw-puzzle-fanatic David Quinn has played two games together thus far. Neither game has been particularly inspiring. In more than 26 total minutes of ice time with the line, Lafrenière is yet to record a shot and has a -1 plus/minus.

I am fully expecting to see a new line be sent out for Friday’s game against the Bruins, as should you.

So, Which Line is Best?

If game seven of the Stanley Cup Final was tomorrow, and I had to send out a line with Alexis Lafrenière’s name on it, I’m putting him on the first line with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich – no questions asked. Those four games were the best Lafrenière has played all season. He was drafted by New York to score points, and playing alongside two proven veterans give him the best chance of doing that.

On the other hand, ff you’re looking for a line full of potential and the opportunity to burgeon into a line of the future, then putting him alongside Brett Howden and Kaapo Kakko would be the correct answer. Each of them has a unique skillset that would allow the other to grow. Howden’s physical-play compliments Kaako and Lafrenière’s quickness very well. Meanwhile, Kaako’s ability to shoot the puck on net would provide excellent tip-in opportunities for the other two. On top of that, Lafrenière’s passing talent would get his teammates loads of scoring chances at the net.

What do you think would be best for Alexis Lafrenière? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the situation.

Lafreniere’s goal could give the New York Rangers a much needed confidence boost

After Tuesday night’s loss to Buffalo, New York Rangers head coach David Quinn discussed the recent streak of losing the last four games by one goal but finished his comments by saying “I have zero doubt that we are going to get out of this.” Not only was he correct, but Alexis Lafreniere’s overtime winning goal may have given the Blueshirts the “shot in the arm” that will carry over beyond this win.

Colin Blackwell made a great defensive play in the neutral zone to spring a 2-on-1 rush that led to his assist on the Lafreniere goal. That was not Blackwell’s best assist of the night. That goes to the fact that it was Blackwell who was mindful of the fact that it was the rookie’s first NHL goal and promptly scooped up the puck for Lafreniere.

The immediate effect on the Rangers was apparent in head coach David Quinn’s post-game Zoom conference when he said how he felt about the win: “(It feels) pretty friggin’ good, I’ll tell you that,” Quinn said. “We needed this. We needed this because, again, we had done a lot of good things. To come out of this trip with three points, we felt like we played better. We felt like we maybe deserved a few more points. That being said, the way we responded under these circumstances says an awful lot about this group. There’s a lot of things you learn about your team as your season moves forward, and we learned an awful lot about our team over the last 24 hours.”

The Rangers probably played their best game of the season on Thursday night. They did everything the way it was supposed to be done, especially compared to Tuesday night’s loss. While losing an OT game would not be ideal, the who, what, and how the game ended could provide a spark to the team that needed to get over a hump that has dragged on since last summer.

In addition to the morale boost, Artemi Panarin is starting to come around as he picked up a goal and an assist in Thursday’s game. Panarin continues to be a model of consistency as he has recorded 423 points in 398 career NHL games; the only active players who have tallied more points within their first 400 career NHL games are Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and Connor McDavid, per @NYRStatsinfo

To help keep the momentum and positive vibes going forward, seven of the Rangers’ next eight games will take place at MSG, and each of the eight contests will take place in the New York Metro Area. The only road game comes on February 6 when the Rangers travel to New Jersey to take on the Devils.

 

 

 

 

Alexis Lafreniere’s first NHL goal gives the New York Rangers an OT victory

After a silent start to the season, Alexis Lafreniere announced his New York Rangers presence in a big way by scoring the winning goal in overtime as the Blueshirts defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2.

Lafreniere’s goal came after the Sabres’ Jack Eichel turned the puck over in his own zone. Colin Blackwell snagged the loose puck and drove up the right side before flipping a pass through the middle to Lafreniere, who one-timed the puck inside the near post.

In scoring this goal in overtime, Lafrenière became the first Ranger to register his first career NHL goal in overtime since Mats Zuccarello did that on Jan. 5, 2011.

Also, At 19 years 109 days, Lafrenière is the youngest player in NHL history to net an OT-winner for his first career goal. The only other teenager to do that was Cody Ceci (also 19) in 2013.

The win also means that the Rangers finally won a one-goal game after going 0-3-1 in their past four outings.

While wearing the broadway hat in his post-game Zoom conference, Lafreniere said that “Yeah, it’s pretty crazy, in overtime, getting the game-winning goal. It is really special and I will never forget this moment.”

It was a long wait for the first overall pick, who had to wait four months to be drafted first overall and then wait until his seventh game to score his first NHL goal.

A very pleased head coach David Quinn continues to be impressed by Lafreniere. “This guy is a ballsy kid. I don’t care if he is the first pick or the 271st pick, he’s a ballsy kid. He’s a kid you want to be around.”

Artemi Panarin had a goal and also set up Ryan Strome’s goal that started the scoring for the Rangers. This was the 200th NHL game for Panarin.  Since entering the NHL in 2015-16, Panarin ranks third in the league in points (223) and assists (142) on the road, and he only trails Connor McDavid and Patrick Kane in each category.

Igor Shesterkin stopped 37 shots for his first win of the season.

Next up for the Rangers is a two-game homestand against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday and Monday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New York Rangers waste a solid effort by third line in shootout loss

While usually, the first and second lines lead the New York Rangers, tonight was a different story. The third line of Philipp Di Giuseppe, Filip Chytil, and Kappo Kakko provided the spark for the Blueshirts. However, the effort was somewhat wasted when the Rangers fell to the Penguins 4-3 in a shootout.

Di Giuseppe was a menace on the ice tonight, registering 8 hits along with two assists in allowing the Ranger’s third line to make an impact in this contest.

Chytil scored 2:41 into the second period when two Pittsburgh defensemen ran into each other. Adam Fox gave the Rangers the lead when he blasted a shot from the point into the net at 5:18 the second. Kakko needed just 24 seconds to extend the advantage to two goals when a rebound off a shot by Di Giuseppe landed right on Kakko’s stick.

The positive part of earning one point from the shootout loss is that the Rangers’ three goals in Friday’s game have been scored by players who are 22 years old or younger.

Igor Shesterkin started in net and allowed 3 goals on 29 shots. One of the goals was not Shesterkin’s fault as Ryan Lindgren accidentally put the puck in his own net trying to shuffle the puck pack to Shesterkin.

Artemi Panarin did pick up an assist on the Fox goal, recorded his 100th career point as a Blueshirt in his 73rd game with the team. This makes Panarin the faster player to get to 100 points in Rangers history, surpassing the record set by Mark Messier.

K’Andre Miller did notch his first career NHL assist/point with an assist on Kakko’s goal.

Meanwhile, first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere remains pointless in the season and did not perform well playing on the first line, as he didn’t record a shot on goal and was a -2 on the night. He appeared to pass up good shots in order to set up his linemates and was slow to get off his shots on a couple of occasions. Lafreniere also did not get a shift during the 3-on-3 overtime session.

While not explicitly addressed, it is apparent that the lack of a full training camp and exhibition games has affected the young forward’s acclimation to the speed and strength needed to play NHL hockey. Something that the Rangers and their fans hope happened quickly.

The Rangers and Penguins will meet again on Sunday night.

 

 

 

 

Can the New York Rangers take advantage of a depleted Penguins defense?

When the New York Rangers face the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night, the one thing that they know is that they will have to deal with Penguin superstars Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby, in typical Crosby fashion, swept in a rebound 1:11 into overtime Tuesday for his third point to help the Penguins overcome a pair of two-goal deficits to defeat the Washington Capitals 5-4.

However, Pittsburgh played the third period of that game with only four defensemen. Marcus Pettersson left late in the second after taking a blindside hit from Washington’s T.J. Oshie at center ice. Juuso Riikola‘s injury status was uncertain as he did not return to the bench for the third period. The Penguins already had Mike Matheson (undisclosed) and Zach Trotman (right knee) on injured reserve. This could force Pittsburgh to dig deep into their roster for replacements. The three leading candidates to step in are Cody Ceci, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, and Kevin Czuczman.

Chad Ruhwedel did not participate in practice Thursday after becoming a first-time father, which means that potential line pairings will have to wait until game time.

This also comes on the heels of an expected line change based on the lines assembled for Friday’s practice, as Alexis Lafreniere skated on the first line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. After practice, head coach David Quinn told the media that he moved Pavel Buchnevich to the second line in hopes that he could provide some help for Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome.

Zibanejad seemed to feel that Lafreniere is ready for the first line, telling lohud.com’s Vince Mercogliano that “Lafreniere is very mature for his age, and the speed he plays at and the way he sees the ice. He’s a real pro, so I’m just excited to get to play with him.”

The Penguins also had some help on the offensive side join their team on Tuesday in 24-year-old Kasperi Kapanen. The young forward, son of former NHL star Sami Kapanen, was delayed in joining his team after difficulties in securing a work visa. When the visa was finally processed, Kapanen was allowed to enter the country on Jan. 9, but he had to undergo a seven-day quarantine as per the NHL’s rules regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rangers and the Penguins will see a lot of each other, as they play each other in four of the next six games in this modified 56 game schedule.