Welcome back to Rangers bi-weekly! It’s actually been a much better two weeks in Rangers town than even I expected so let’s jump right in and see how the Broadway Blueshirts have been handling some recent adversity thrown their way.
February 24th, 2021: New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Score: Rangers 3, Flyers 4
No Artemi Panarin, No Kaapo Kakko, No Jacob Trouba, No Filip Chytil. The Rangers had to go to battle with one of the top teams in the NHL down four of their best players and going into this game, I truly thought it wasn’t going to be close and that the Rangers would suffer an embarrassing loss against the Flyers. They proved me way wrong. Yes, they lost but they managed to stay competitive and when they needed one of their leaders to step up, he did. Chris Kreider was the Rangers entire offense of the night when he scored a hat trick in the 4-3 loss but he looked like a man possessed. When Kreider gets this way, and embraces his speed, he is one of the best players in the league. He has a big contract to live up to and this season he is showing that the Rangers made a smart investment. Kreider is a physical freak who continues to show, even going into his 30s, that he will be a great asset for the team going forward. The fact that the team kept it a one goal game without many of their most important pieces is the big positive to take away here.
February 26th, 2021: New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins
Score: Rangers 6, Bruins 2
This was easily one of the most fun Rangers games all season and it was the first with fans back in attendance. The Garden was rocking as the Rangers scored six times against what many consider to be the best team in the NHL. The Bruins always seem to be this juggernaut of the eastern conference but the Rangers on this day, flexed their offensive muscles. Still no Artemi Panarin but it did not slow them down one bit.
Phil Di Giuseppe would begin the Garden party when he tipped a Julien Gauthier shot past Tuukka Rask. I wish Gauthier’s initial shot had gone in to help build his confidence but hey, can’t complain about a one goal lead. Ryan Strome would join the party next and was set up with one of the best passes I’ve seen all season from any player. Alexis Lafreniere sent a beautiful pass to Strome who snapped the puck past Rask for 2-0 Rangers lead. Just an awesome start. After a Bruins goal, the Rangers would strike back and score the next four goals. Colin Blackwell, Chris Kreider (Again!), Pavel Buchnevich and Jonny Brodzinski would all score in a 6-2 win. The Rangers caught some fire and looked to continue to flaunt their new found offensive prowess again next game against the Bruins.
February 28th, 2021: New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins
Score: Rangers 1, Bruins 4
After two games of positives, it all came crashing down in this one. The Bruins stymied the Rangers at every turn and the Rangers did not look so good in a 4-1 loss. Colin Blackwell would score the Rangers lone goal in this one. Blackwell has been one of the best signings in recent years as he was essentially signed off the scrap heap and has been a nice middle six contributor for a team that needed guys to step up. Blackwell has played on just about every line this season and he has proven to be a more than capable contributor on this New York Rangers club. Let’s move on to happier times.
March 2nd, 2021: New York Rangers vs. Buffalo Sabres
Score: Rangers 3, Sabres 2
This was a wild one with three of the games five goals coming with the first three minutes of the first period. Pavel Bychnevich would continue his torrid scoring pace and strike first. Sam Reinhart would get one back for the Sabres but Buchnevich would bank a shot off of Alexis Lafreniere to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Lafreniere would collect his third goal of the season and he seems to really be finding his game. The first overall pick had a rough time scoring during the early part of the season but now he is stapled to the top line and second power-play unit so he is getting way more opportunities as the season has gone one.
Chris Kreider would score once again keeping himself red hot to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead in the second period. Kreider, I can’t say this enough, has just been dynamite since Artemi Panarin took a leave of absence from the team. He has truly stepped up as a leader on this team and I hope he does indeed get named the next captain of this franchise. Tobias Rieder would score a meaningless goal as the Rangers sailed to a 3-2 win
March 4th and March 6th, 2021: New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils
Scores: 6-1 Rangers and 6-3 Rangers
You wanted feel good and dominating wins? You got it Rangers fans. Two straight road games at “the Rock” would extend the Rangers winning streak to three games and man does it feel good to stick it to the Devils. The Rangers were all over this club for two straight games and they put up 12(!!!) goals on them. Chris Kreider would score a hat trick in the March 4th game (his second straight hat trick on the road). Pavel Buchnevich and Brendan Smith would score as well but my favorite goal of the first of the two games was when Alexis Lafreniere lasered a shot past Aaron Dell for his fourth goal of the season. It was a beautiful snipe and reminded you just how much skill this kid has.
The game on March 6th was more of the same greatness. Adam Fox would score one of the best goals this season when he went from end to end on the power-play and snapped the puck past the New Jersey goalie. What a goal from the Rangers number one defenseman. Ryan Strome would score twice and Filip Chytil would chip in a nice skillful backhand tally in front as well. Libor Hajek would score his first of the season and his two career goals have been against New Jersey. Just an awesome two games of domination against a major rival. The Rangers were finally over NHL .500 after their March 6th win against NJ.
March 7th, 2021: New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Score: Rangers 1, Penguins 5
Just an absolute dud of a game. The Penguins won. Not too many good things happened. Let’s move on.
The Week Ahead
March 9th, 2021: NYR vs. PIT
March 11th: NYR vs. BOS
March 13th: NYR vs. BOS