The New York Rangers defeated the Calgary Flames tonight by the score of 4-1. For a box score, click here.
Ok. Let’s be blunt here. The Flames are bad. Really bad. Papa John’s bad.
But that isn’t to say that the Flames handed the Rangers the game tonight. For the first time in two weeks, the Rangers found the jump back in their game. Both with moving the puck around in the offensive zone and breaking out to start the rush up ice. Most of the Flames chances were one-and-done in front of Lundqvist.
Calgary only began to find traction after a pair of power plays late in the third, which gave them their first and only goal of the night. That’s about as solid of 60 minute hockey you could hope for out of the Rangers.
AV pushed the right buttons heading into this game with the lineup changes. Total balanced scoring throughout the four lines. Grabner is already one goal shy of his total a season ago and got the Rangers on the board at 6:32 of the first, beating Elliott to the short side. Stepan would later add his second of the season off a nice give and go with Kreider.
The Rangers won tonight’s game on the boards. I watched the Flames players often in the first two periods helplessly watch the Rangers pass it around the half wall and behind the net. If executed as crisply as the Rangers do it, it’s agonizing to have to defend, especially at the speed in which the Rangers pull it off.
Flip-flopping Vesey and Buchnevich in the lineup wound up benefiting both Ranger rookies. Vesey took a pass from McDonagh through a forest of legs in front of the net and deposited his 7th of the season midway through the second. Buchnevich later scored in his fourth consecutive game. Buch is going to be so deadly with the puck with Zuccarello feeding him passes.
Hank was pretty stellar in net when called upon coming off last Tuesday when he had to come in ice cold and allowed two quick goals before Raanta came back. Never really worried about him.
Not much to critique on the Rangers defensively. The Rangers blocked 23 shots and did so correctly. No cheap goals off wayward blades. Staal and Skjei were the Rangers best pair at both ends easily. Girardi and McDonagh were OK. Holden had some issues with breakout passes later on, but was his invisible self otherwise.
Need a repeat performance Sunday night as the Rangers continue their road trip in Edmonton to take on the Oilers.