1. A couple more notes on last night. Michael Grabner at 12 goals through 20 games that’s tied for the league lead? I can hear the grumbling from the Leaf fans up in Toronto. It might be the quietest 12 goals from anyone so far this season and given the attention the Rangers have received from the national writers over the high scoring style in which they play, that’s incredible. On a separate note, I’m curious to see if Grabner gets all star game support with voting beginning next week. There’s a couple Rangers that should get heavy consideration. Zuccarello and Hayes included. Going to be tough in this division.
2. Biggest difference in the first and second period in last night’s game? The Rangers neutral zone play on the defensive side of the puck. The Penguins were essentially allowed to free-wheel in the Rangers zone for 20 minutes and made Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel look like Gretzky. It’s so critically important for the Rangers in this system to win battles along the boards and in the corners to tilt the ice back in the Rangers favor. The Rangers did this exceptionally well in the third period allowing only 3 Penguins shots on net in the first 13 minutes protecting a one goal lead. That’s how you win hockey games on a consistent basis.
3. The 2011 draft. The Ottawa Senators owned three first round picks and selected Zibanejad sixth, Stefan Noesen 21st who was later traded to Anaheim for Bobby Ryan and newest Ranger Matt Puempel 24th. If you throw in Nicklas Jensen and of course JT Miller, who the Rangers took at 15, the Rangers possess 4 picks from that first round and the only assets they gave up for those four players were Derick Brassard and Emerson Etem. Incredible work done by Gorton, Clark and the front office staff. Unrelated question: if you were to redraft that year knowing what we know now, does Johnny Gaudreau go first overall ahead of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabe Landeskog? I think so.
4. Lastly, we found out just before the game last night that Buchnevich would be out 2-3 weeks to ‘reinforce the core’ in his back and that nothing was structurally wrong with him. I’m not going to make assumptions about Buchnevich’s offseason training, which I’m sure was impacted in some way with the move to North America, attempting to learn English, etc. But anyone can see that Buchnevich is still a twig and has plenty of room to grow into his body. Once Buchnevich comes back, there should be an interesting competition for ice time with Puempel, especially if he’s shown he can play and excel in this system.
4A. This will be the last time you’ll be hearing from me before Thanksgiving, so I want to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday which will hopefully be sandwiched between a pair of Rangers wins tomorrow and Friday.
(Photo credit: Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)