Quick Hits – Rangers vs Blackhawks 12/13/16
Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images
Here is my Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 2-1 loss to the Blackhawks.
Jimmy Vesey – After a stretch of about 3 weeks of mediocre play, this was the kind of game that Rangers fans have been waiting for. Every time Vesey stepped onto the ice, the puck was on his stick. Vesey registered 7 shots on net in this one, and was being double shifted in the third period by Alain Vigneault. He was looking like the explosive player that the Rangers were getting at the beginning of the season, and with all of the chances he’s gotten, he will crack through soon.
Jesper Fast – All of the hard work that Jesper Fast has put in, especially these last few games, paid off tonight. With the Rangers trailing by a goal in the second period, the line of Hrivik-Lindberg-Fast went to work. Lindberg threw the puck out in front from behind the net, and it went off of Fast’s body. He then proceeds to knock it in out of mid air with his stick. The goal really galvanized the team in the second, and helped lead them to 16 shots in the period. He is the kind of player that you want to score. He works hard, plays for the front of his jersey, and doesn’t ask for favors. If the rest of the team played a little more like Fast, the team would get better without having to go “shopping” for new players.
Brady Skjei – It was an interesting night for Brady Skjei. After his defense partner, Ryan McDonagh was a late scratch due to illness, Skjei was paired with Dan Girardi. The combination played well together, but midway through the first, Skjei was caught under the eye by the skate of teammate Kevin Hayes. He went back to the Rangers locker room to get stitched up, and was back on the ice with 5 minutes to go in the second period. Fortunately, he was able to continue playing, and he didn’t miss a beat. He was rushing the puck up the ice, and making the good defensive plays we’ve become accustomed to seeing in his early career. He’s really showing the early signs of an elite puck moving defenseman, and this is just the beginning of his time in the NHL.
Adam Clendening – After captain Ryan McDonagh was scratched, Adam Clendening was forced to step into the lineup. This was a pleasant sight for some, who have been waiting to see him get into games to prove what he might be worth. But Clendening had a rather quiet night. He registered two shots on goal, and was on the ice for less time than Brady Skjei, who missed around 20 minutes worth of game time getting repairs. I can’t say for sure if Clendening is in the “doghouse”, but it certainly seems as though he doesn’t have the talent level or defensive presence that the Rangers coaches need from their defenseman.
Special Teams – The Rangers special teams have done a really great job this season. The team’s penalty kill has not allowed a goal in their last 11 opportunities. The PK has been consistent all year, and come crunch time will be something the team can rely on if they do end up in the box. The PP did not get any opportunities in this one, although there certainly seemed to be some missed calls, especially in the third period. The Rangers special teams are in the top 10 in both categories, and that will definitely help come playoff time.
Antti Raanta – Antti Raanta deserved this start tonight. After pitching back to back shutouts, Raanta seemed to be impossible to score on. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the Blackhawks were able to score twice in this one. But to Raanta’s defense, both goals could have been avoided. The first Hawks goal was a broken play. The puck was sent into the zone and deflected off of the linesman, and right to Artemi Panarin, who set up Trevor Van Riemsdyk for the goal. One could argue that there was a blown coverage. It looked like Grabner went straight to the puck instead of the man, and Kevin Klein didn’t come back hard enough to get back into the play. The second goal was a blown coverage in front. After Panarin dropped the puck to Brian Campbell on the half-wall, he centered the puck from behind the net. Anisimov unchecked himself from Nick Holden, and tapped it in past Raanta. Raanta made the key saves when called upon, but the team couldn’t solve Hawks goalie Scott Darling.
Injuries – For a team missing 3 of their top forwards, and their top defenseman and captain, this was a very good game for the Blueshirts. And yes, the injuries certainly take their toll on the team. But when you can hold a high powered team like the Blackhawks to just 2 goals, and keep guys like Kane, Toews and Hossa off the scoresheet, it is a solid team effort. AV said that Nash is “really close” to getting back onto the ice, and hopefully we will see him back in action on Thursday.
NEXT GAME: The Rangers will head off to the Lone Star State to take on the Stars this Thursday night. Puck drops at 830!
LETS GO RANGERS!