Rangers weekly round 2! After a rough opening five games where the Rangers compiled a 1-3-1 record, the blueshirts of Broadway looked to right the ship in their three games this week. Up on the docket: two games against Jack Eichel and his Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center and a visit from Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins to Madison Square Garden. Let’s jump in.
January 26th, 2021: New York Rangers vs. Buffalo Sabres @ KeyBank Center
Goaltenders: Alexandar Georgiev – L, Linus Ullmark – W
After a crushing loss to the Penguins to drop their record to 1-3-1, the Rangers needed to come out with fire in this game and set the tone right off the opening draw. Their initial pressure would pay off as they would strike first. Pavel Buchnevich, who has been the Rangers best forward this season, would take advantage of a Sabres turnover and after circling the net, toss a pass to a streaking Chris Kreider. Kreider would snap the puck past goaltender Linus Ullmark at 6:28 of the first period for a 1-0 Rangers lead. The Sabres would answer roughly six minutes later when they capitalized on the power-play. At 12:50 of the first period, Eric Staal would tap pass the puck to Dylan Cozens in the high slot who lasered the puck past Alexandar Georgiev to tie the game at one. Penalties were costing the Rangers yet again. The teams continued to trade chances as the period went on but a Rangers rookie would give the team a boost in the period’s final seconds.
K’Andre Miller, the Rangers big smooth skating rookie defenseman, would score his first career NHL goal. After receiving a nice feed from Brendan Lemieux, Miller blasted the puck past Ullmark to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead going into the locker room. Miller is already looking like one of the Rangers best defenseman and will be counted on to lead the defense into the future. The second period would be all Sabres.
At 6:03 of the second period, Tobias Reider would make the Rangers pay with his patented speed. Reider sped down the ice and out waited Georgiev before beating him to tie the at two. The goal came right at the end of a Rangers power-play to make things sting even more. The Sabres were pressing and the Rangers did not have an answer for them. Just about a minute and thirty seconds later, with K’Andre Miller off for slashing, the Sabres would score on the power-play. At 7:31 of the second, Jack Eichel would score his first of the season on a blast from the slot. The Sabres led 3-2. The rest of the second and the third would come and go and the Rangers never found the tying goal. The Sabres would go on to defeat them 3-2 at Keybank center. This game would mark the Rangers fourth straight loss (0-3-1).
January 28th, 2021: New York Rangers vs. Buffalo Sabres @ KeyBank Center
Goaltenders: Igor Shesterkin – W, Linus Ullmark – L
This was a game that almost felt must-win for the Broadway Blueshirts. In the midst of a four gaming losing streak and the loss of the blossoming Filip Chytil, the Rangers needed to start feeling good about themselves again. Midway through the first period, at 9:44 they would begin their road to a hard fought win. After an excellent zone entry by Pavel Buchnevich and Artemi Panarin, Panarin wired the pick to Ryan Strome, who beat Ullmark for his second goal of the season. The Rangers jumped out to a 1-0 lead. The Rangers almost got to the locker room with a 1-0 lead but Jack Eichel would have another idea. At 19:38 of the first period, Eichel delivered K’Andre Miller his welcome to the NHL moment, beating him to the net and tipping a great pass past Shesterkin to tie the game at one goal a piece.
The Rangers would answer in the second period. At 16:10 of the second period, Rangers superstar Artemi Panarin would find a bouncing puck at the side of the net and whip the puck past Linus Ullmark for a 2-1 Rangers lead. Ullmark had no chance on the shot and Panarin gave the Rangers a big goal. The Rangers entered the locker room with a 2-1 lead. The Sabres would answer in the third period. At 4:47 of the third period, Sam Reinhart would finish off a tic-tac-toe play between himself, Jack Eichel and Victor Olofsson. Reinhart’s power-play goal would tie the game at two and that’s how regulation time would end. Up next, overtime.
There was one play that mattered. At 2:47 of overtime, Colin Blackwell would force a turnover in the neutral zone and break into a two-on-one into the offensive zone with Alexis Lafreniere. Blackwell would hit Lafreniere with a perfect pass and Lafreniere ripped the puck past Ullmark for the overtime winner and his first career NHL goal. The Rangers got their second win of the season and Lafreniere got the money off his back by scoring a huge goal for his team.
January 30th, 2021: New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins @ Madison Square Garden
Starting Goaltenders: Alexandar Georgiev – L, Casey DeSmith – W
A game with such momentum behind it would turn out to be one of the most heartbreaking of this young season. The teams trade chances early on in this game and Rangers power-play looked especially good. They moved the puck around well, their shooters got some good looks and the team looked ready to build off their strong game against the Sabres. All that good will went out the door as the Penguins struck first again with a prime deflection in front of the net by Jason Zucker at 7:39 of the first period. The Rangers fought back and at 13:52 of the first period, Brendan Lemieux crashed the net and somehow got the puck through DeSmith to tie the game at one for the Rangers. The Rangers looked like they would enter the locker room tied but Brandon Tanev had other ideas and snapped a shot past Georgiev at 19:20 of the first to send the Penguins to the locker room with a 2-1 lead.
The second period might have been the best period of hockey the Rangers played all season. At 7:19 of the second period, Kevin Rooney and K’Andre Miller completed a pretty passing sequence shorthanded to tie the game at two for the Rangers. Miller continues to show he just might be the second best defenseman on the team. The Penguins would strike back at 9:42 of the second period on a Kasperi Kapanen breakaway to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead. The Rangers couldn’t seem to clamp down on the Penguins enough. At 10:25 of the second period, the Rangers would answer. Chris Kreider was a hound on the puck in front of the net and eventually cashed in on a rebound opportunity to give the Rangers life again. The game was tied at three. The Rangers would finally cash in on the power-play at 16:01 of the second period when Artemi Panarin would rocket a one-timer past DeSmith for a 4-3 Rangers lead. The Rangers had climbed back into this and taken the lead. They would lead 4-3 going into the locker room.
The third period began the heartbreak of the night. Rangers nemesis Jake Guentzel, who is beginning to be a pest to this team, scored at 9:18 of the third to tie the game at four. The game would reach overtime and then none other than Sidney Crosby would score the game winner after the Rangers became trapped in their own zone due to multiple egregious errors by Tony DeAngelo. The Rangers would lose 5-4 in OT and fall to 2-4-2 in this season. After the game to make matters worse for the club, it’s been confirmed by the Athletic that Alexandar Georgiev and Tony DeAngelo got into a fight after the game. DeAngelo is on waivers as of today and will hopefully never wear the NYR jersey again.
2-4-2. Two wings in eight games to start a 56 game season. That just flat out is not good enough and some of the veterans need to start waking up. Mika Zibanejad has had an awful start to this year and Ryan Strome just flat out looks like he’s doing cardio out there and not contributing. Their best center this season (Filip Chytil), is out for 4-6 weeks and the goaltending hasn’t been up to par. The young kids have been bright spots this season like Miller and Fox and Kakko but they can’t do it all themselves. Even Number One Overall Pick, Alexis Lafreniere looks like he could use a little help but he has been playing well himself. Hopefully next week, we’ll have a much more positive analysis but man… this Rangers team needs to figure things out.
Last thought of the week: Tony DeAngelo should not play in the NHL again. The end.
The Week Ahead:
February 1st, 2021: New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins @ Madison Square Garden
February 4th, 2021: New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals @ Madison Square Garden
February 6th, 2021: New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils @ Prudential Center
You can follow Russell and his friends over at Skyscraper Sports on Twitter at @SkySportsNYPod.