Quick Hits – New York Rangers Season Opener vs Avalanche 10/5/17

 

 

The moment we’ve all been waiting for finally arrived today. Rangers faced Avalanche at home for their season opening game of the 2017-18 hockey season. While some people see this game as the season-setting pace, we have to remember it’s only game 1, 1 of 82, and the team has a full season ahead of them. Let’s dive right into it.

Mika Zibanejad – If there’s one star of the night, it has to go to Zbad for his two goals, both scored on the PP and within 2.5 minutes of each other. He almost had the hat trick at the end of the third, with a shot that went high and wide, and had most of us going “How did that not go in?!”

Ryan McDonagh – The team’s captain was one to watch tonight because of his pairing with newcomer Kevin Shattenkirk, who all eyes were on after he signed with the Rangers as a free agent this summer. Unfortunately for our captain, he was on the ice for all three goals against and had frustration radiating off of him after the game.

Kevin Shattenkirk – Shattenkirk was, for the most part, pretty darn good on defense tonight. He even made a stick save at the end of the third to prevent an empty-net goal. Like McDonagh, however, he was on the ice for 3 goals against, but that shouldn’t overshadow his passing game and his ability to read the play really, really well. As he gets used to the team and develops chemistry,

Filip Chytil – The youngster rookie got a taste of his first NHL regular season game, but it was very short lived. Vigneault proved once again that he’s not willing to take the risk with the young players, or give them ice time they need to develop. He’s young, he makes mistakes, you take it for what it is, learn and move on. He saw just under 8 minutes of ice time, with most of it coming in the first and second periods, before he was benched.

Pavel Buchnevich – Buchnevich worked very hard in the off-season, training along with Chris Kreider and it really showed in his performance. He was all over the puck when he was on the ice, and even got an assist on Zibanejad’s second goal. I think this will end up being his breakout year, as long as AV continues to let him play.

Henrik Lundqvist – The Rangers’ most loved (or hated — depending on who you ask) goalie made 22 saves, some on high-quality shots that he was able to keep out of the net. He did let 2 go in pretty early in the first, but then buckled down until the last few minutes in the second period when Barrie got one by him. Overall, this is the Hank we’re used to, the one who takes a few games to reach his stride, but he didn’t look bad.

Other Notes – Despite the final outcome, this was a pretty good game. The Rangers looked speedy and played well, despite a few flubs here and there. Some changes need to happen on the defense, and maybe on some lines.

Overall, a loss is not the way fans nor players want the season to start out, but it’s important to remember it’s only one game. It’s not a fair assessment to start getting down on players this early on, especially not when Varlamov was totally on-point. And, hey, it could be worse – the Pens lost 10-1 after all.

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