The New York Rangers swept the season series by defeating the Nashville Predators 4-3 at MSG. For a box score, click here.
It’s official. The line of J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Michael Grabner need a nickname. There needs to be a name Rangers fans use and everyone knows it refers to them. I’m open to ideas.
Anyway, it was that line again that led the way with six points (three goals, three assists) as the Rangers scored four unanswered goals to secure their fourth straight victory. And why was that line able to do so much damage? Besides being able to cross the oppositions’ blue line unlike their teammates, it can be summed up in one word – speed.
And chemistry. I have no idea where it suddenly came from but Hayes and Miller’s chemistry is undeniable at this point. And Grabner fits in perfectly. Due to that, everyone knew if the Rangers were going to erase an early two-goal deficit, it would start with that line. They didn’t disappoint.
There really isn’t much else to take from tonight. The other three lines were more or less invisible (at least from what I noticed being at the game) and the defense…okay, we’ll talk about the defense.
Ryan McDonagh took a really dumb penalty and then proceeded to look even stupider by arguing the call. When you slash and break another players stick right in front of the referee, you’re probably going to the box. And McDonagh did. But other than that, I thought the captain played a terrific game and was one of the best players on the ice for either team. (If it wasn’t for the line discussed above, he probably would’ve been one of the stars of the game.)
The rest of the defense? Staal had a nice turnover to lead to the Predators first goal but otherwise had a decent game. Clendening, who played in place of Girardi who was injured blocking a shot on Tuesday, lost his man on that same goal and looked a little shaky all night. (Separate note – I defend Vigneault a lot but I have absolutely no idea why Clendening didn’t see a second of power play time tonight.) Klein apparently played over 18 minutes but I didn’t notice him at all. Holden and Skjei? I wish I didn’t notice them as neither had a particularly good game tonight.
But none of that mattered as the Hayes line led the way and Lundqvist took care of the rest. 37 shots is still too many but at least they are headed in the right direction. Maybe next game they will get that down to a reasonable number. They are playing the Avalanche, who have less points than the Rangers have wins, so this should be doable. (As of this writing, Colorado has 32 points while the Rangers now have 35 wins.) We’ll see what happens Saturday night.
(Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)