Quick Hits – Rangers vs. Predators 10/21/17

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Here is our Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators.

Kevin Hayes – Hayes had a strong game; he was johnny-on-the-spot all game, constantly on the puck, and finished with a goal and an assist. Both, were of the spectacular variety. In the late stages of the first, Hayes worked hard, and used his size and reach to get a breakaway on Predators goalie Juuse Saros. His attempt was stopped, but Jesper Fast was able to clean up the rebound, to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Then, just past the midway point of the second period, he took a brilliant cross ice feed from Jimmy Vesey, and stormed down right wing. Hayes blew by Nashville defenseman Matt Irwin, and fired a shot over the left shoulder of Saros.

Kevin Hayes has to be a big factor as the season progresses, especially with the Rangers hole at center. He doesn’t use his huge frame to hit opposing players (40 hits all last year), for whatever reason. So, since playing tough isn’t his bag, getting more offensive production, and being solid defensively are vital to the Blueshirts success. I would love to see a player his size develop a mean streak, but that may not be in the cards.

Jimmy Vesey – Vesey somehow came into this game without a point all season. While most of the Rangers players have been playing at an unacceptable level, Vesey has played with heart, and along with Rick Nash, has not gotten any puck luck. This year, he has added penalty killing duties to his résumé. And in this game he was particularly stout. Besides, the primary assist in the second period, he added the game-sealing empty net goal with 39 seconds left. He accurately found the net from well inside his own blue line, relieving a ton of pressure Nashville was putting on to try and tie the game. The Rangers coaching staff inexplicably started Vesey on the fourth line this year. His play, and the poor play of others, has moved him up in the pecking order. Vesey, along with Pavel Buchnevich, are showing they deserve top-six consideration, and surely more ice time.

Henrik Lundqvist – After two straight games where The King gave up a poor goal, Lundqvist was back to his old self. When the Rangers were put into the position to kill a penalty in the third, he was fantastic in holding the fort. He stopped several one-timers off cross ice feeds by Roman Josi, and Ryan Johansen. While the Rangers were much better in this game, they only had six shots on goal in the last two periods combined. Hank stopped all nine that he faced in the third to preserve the victory, and they were all of the high quality variety.

Chris Kreider – The Rangers big left wing finally tallied his first goal of the season off a great set up in close by J.T Miller. It was a power play marker with less than 30 seconds left in the first period.

Kreider seems to be finding some chemistry with David Desharnais and Miller playing on the right wing. I still think Kreider is better when playing with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. By the same token, Miller has never been very successful when skating regularly on the right as opposed to his more comfortable left. It seems like the line combinations and defense pairings are still a work in progress.

The Scratches – Adam Cracknell, Paul Carey, and Steven Kampfer were all scratched by Alain Vigneault for this game. For the life of me, I do not get why these players are still here. All have been career vagabonds in the NHL. Many teams have looked, but not kept them around too long. And none have a role here now or going forward. The Blueshirts dressed seven defensemen again because they do not have a fourth center they think is capable. Is this coach Alain Vigneault sending a message to his GM that he needs another center? My guess is that is entirely possible. The guy that got the short end of the stick today was Anthony DeAngelo. He got just over five minutes of ice time. Meanwhile, Nick Holden (showcasing for trade?) was horrible. His puck management was a disaster. Inaccurate passes, passes too hard too handle plus bad decisions on carrying the puck, were all on the menu for Holden in this one. I almost understand why AV plays him since the three scratches shouldn’t be in the NHL, but why so many minutes over DeAngelo?

NEXT GAME: The Rangers will look to build on this win on Monday when they host the Sharks. Puck drops at 7!

LETS GO RANGERS!