The New York Rangers defeated the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 at MSG. For a box score, click here.
Easy, routine night for Henrik Lundqvist as he made 43 saves in the victory. After the game he praised how the defense played in front of him. I’m not nearly as against this defense as a lot of the fan base but how do you credit the guys in front of you when they let 43 pucks get to you?
That said, I didn’t think the defense was horrible tonight. Sure they had their moments but it wasn’t one of those games where I constantly asked what the six of them were doing. Honestly, I barely noticed them most of the night. I’ve always believed the less I notice the defense the better. Sure I would love to notice them in a positive way or on the offensive side, but I’ll take invisible over the defensive disasters we’ve seen all too often recently.
Before I get to the rest of the game, a note about the Rangers holding “You Can Play” night tonight. The building was lit in rainbow outside and they did mention the initiative a couple of times throughout the game but that was it. No merchandise, no special guests in attendance. And don’t tell me they used rainbow tape on their sticks for warmups. Every player stepped on the ice with a stick wrapped in rainbow tape. 75% of them didn’t even take a spin around the ice before they handed them off to an equipment manager on the bench and grabbed a regularly taped stick instead. I understand they want to break sticks in but most of them didn’t even last 10 seconds on the ice with the “for charity” stick. Really disappointing.
Back to the game.
Kevin Hayes returned tonight and it was amazing what a difference his presence made. If you had told me at the start of the season that the team would miss him that much, I would’ve thought you were crazy. But they did and it was great to have him back. He didn’t really contribute much to the scoring but he was noticeable all over the ice. And his penalty shouldn’t have been a penalty. I will never like the puck over glass penalty but it seems the rule has changed and they pick and choose how they want to call it.
His linemates, Grabner and Miller, were just as noticeable with Miller getting the first assist on both of Grabner’s goals. Another thing I wouldn’t have expected at the start of the season – Michael Grabner to have 25 goals with two months of the season to go. He probably could’ve had a couple others tonight as well.
Early in the third period, Stepan was shoved into the boards by the Ducks bench by Logan Shaw and slow to get up. I’ll admit I missed the hit but heard that Ryan Getzlaf actually helped Stepan get up and to the Rangers bench while a scrum began around him. Major props to the Ducks captain for that. And same props to Rick Nash who stepped in to stand up for Stepan. How he didn’t end up with a penalty, I have no idea but he was definitely the one who started that scrum. Stepan briefly went to the locker room but returned and seemed fine so looks like the team avoided a bullet there.
Not really much else to say about the game. Vigneault got his 600th career win, Lundqvist was vintage Lundqvist, and if the Rangers want to keep winning, they will need to spend a little more time in the offensive zone. Lundqvist is a good looking guy but I really didn’t need to stare at him for the majority of 60 minutes tonight. But vintage Hank mixed with a couple of timely goals and the Rangers are 2-for-2 on this homestand. Next up, the Predators come for a visit on Thursday. Would I be asking too much for them to make it 3-for-3? I’m enjoying this winning at home idea.
(Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)