The New York Rangers showed that grit and toughness head coach Gerard Gallant has been talking about at the Garden last night. In their 6-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, Chris Kreider stepped up for his injured teammate Ryan Reaves.
A lineup that reflected what opening night in Washington could look like was rearranged just about 10 minutes in. Newly acquired forward, Reaves was injured in the first period after he was tangled up with Devils defenseman P.K. Subban.
Reaves was chasing the puck to the left of the Devils goalie when Subban stuck out his left leg and clipped Reaves with what appeared like a slew foot. Reaves went down awkwardly with his left leg contoured into an angle that certainly looked like a long-term injury.
Kreider takes exception to the injury
The tempo of this game changed once play resumed from a television timeout. Immediately, Chris Kreider began having words with Subban. He and the rest of the Blueshirts had seen the hit on the scoreboard and felt it was a cheap shot.
From that point on the Rangers won the battle on the score sheet, but more importantly, they did not let Subban move on the ice without getting hit. Every Ranger finished their checks, and they were led by possibly the next captain of the Rangers, Kreider.
Whenever Subban was not being hit, taunted, slashed, or crushed by a man with a blue sweater, Kreider was in his face.
He led the defense of their fallen teammate and at the start of the second period took his anguish out on Subban which cost Kreider 12 minutes in the penalty box. Every fan in the Garden, and watching on television along with every teammate knew it was worth every second.
That situation launched a four goal middle stanza en route to a 6-2 final.
The Rangers showing more to their identity this season
This game was not just about the score, it was about showing the Devils and at the same time the NHL that the Rangers would no longer be considered an easy team to play against.
Kreider finally got his hands on Subban in the third period as they both received five-minute fighting majors. When the night was over, Kreider had 17 total penalty minutes.
Following the game, the news on Reaves was better than expected. He is listed as day-to-day with his status for opening night unknown. Injuries never come at a good time, but this one had several silver linings.
Reaves seems to have avoided a major injury and at the same time, the Blueshirts found their identity. They found a way to win a hockey game while standing up for Reaves and themselves. The mentality around this club is changing for the better.
This tougher team may work out pretty well under the bright lights of Broadway.
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