Quick Hits – Rangers vs Blue Jackets 1/7/17
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Here is my Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 5-4 come from behind win over the Blue Jackets
Michael Grabner – Perhaps the biggest offensive surprise in the NHL has been the offensive contributions from Michael Grabner. And boy did he shine in this one. With the Rangers down 4-1 in the second, Grabner got the comeback started. After a Blue Jackets faceoff win in the Rangers defensive zone, Grabner picked up the puck, went right past Seth Jones, and buried a wrister past McElhinney. And then with the game in the balance, Grabner steals a pass at the Rangers blue line, skates up and goes forehand-backhand shelf to give the Rangers the win. Grabner is currently tied for eighth in the NHL in goals with 18, which is one more than his combined goal total from the last two seasons (17). He has been one of the unsung heroes for the Blueshirts so far this season, and is always a threat, especially because of his speed.
Oscar Lindberg – Another Rangers forward who doesn’t get a whole lot of recognition is Oscar Lindberg. This was a game where Lindberg’s presence was felt at all times he was on the ice. Lindberg scored the Rangers first goal of the game on a 2v1 with Grabner, and lasered one past McElhinney. Lindberg also had the primary assist on the game tying goal by Adam Clendening. His line, along with Grabner and Jesper Fast, was grinding and doing the dirty work in the corners that allowed the Rangers to have the zone time in the third to create the offensive pressure. This was his first goal of the season, and boy was it well deserved.
Adam Clendening – If there was any doubt on who should be in the lineup when Marc Staal comes back from injury, Adam Clendening showed why he should be. Aside from the two goals, he was in solid defensive position all night, and didn’t look out of place. But how about those goals. Clendening scored his first of the season on the power play to pull the Rangers within one, on a wrist shot through the screen of Seth Jones and JT Miller. His second of the game was one that he will gladly take, but one that McElhinney will want back. After Lindberg forced the puck around the boards, Clendening pinched in and fired a harmless shot to the net that caught the Columbus net-minder was not expecting. Hopefully AV gives Clendening a good hard look in the next few games.
Kevin Klein – On the flip side from Adam Clendening is one Kevin Klein. Klein, who was seen as a solid defenseman coming into the season, has looked as bad (if not worse) as anyone could have imagined. He is constantly out of position, turning the puck over, and in this game, had the puck taken off of his stick on the goal line which set up the Blue Jackets third goal. He has not shown anything at all this season to warrant playing over Adam Clendening when Staal comes back from his injury.
Henrik Lundqvist – It has been an interesting season for King Henrik this year. His save percentage of .912 is middle of the pack, as is his goals against average. He has benefited from the Rangers ability to score goals, but Hank hasn’t looked like the player that Rangers fans have grown to expect game in and game out. In this game, he got off to another rocky start, with the Jackets scoring four goals in the first 23 minutes of the game. But after the Rangers tied the game at 4, and Columbus putting on some pressure, Hank came up big, robbing Seth Jones right in front of the net. This bye week comes at a good time for the Rangers, and Henrik, who will look to mentally regroup for the playoff push in the second half of the year.
Alain Vigneault – Say what you will about Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault, but in this game, he made some key coaching decisions. He went to nine forwards and five defensemen for the entire third period, benching Kevin Klein on defense, and the line of Hrivik-Pirri-Jensen on offense. And whatever he said, or didn’t say, during the second period intermission got the boys motivated and geared up for their best third period of the season. He deserves a good amount of credit for this win.
NEXT GAME: The Rangers will have a five day break before their next game against the Maple Leafs on Friday at MSG. Puck drops at 7!
LETS GO RANGERS!