Quick Hits – Rangers vs Canadiens 10/8/17

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Here is the FullTilt Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 2-0 shutout victory over the Canadiens.

KZB Line  One of the most promising lines at the start of last season was the line of Mika Zibanejad centering Chris Kreider and then-rookie Pavel Buchnevich. After a year of seasoning for Buch, and an offseason to get healthier and stronger, this line looks like it could be the next great off-Broadway show. All three guys have speed, skill, strength and an awareness of where the others are on the ice. This line showed exactly these traits on Zibanejad’s insurance marker in the third period. Kreider and Buchnevich go in hard on the forecheck, Kreider taps it to Buchnevich behind the net, and he finds Zibanejad open in the slot for the goal. This line is clicking already, and if all three guys stay healthy, this will be a high producing line for the Blueshirts.

JT Miller – As I mentioned in my recap of the Rangers loss to the Maple Leafs, JT has stepped up so far this season. He didn’t have any shots against Carey Price, but he won the faceoff that led to Brady Skjei’s first-period goal. Miller was 77% on faceoffs in this one and with Filip Chytil’s NHL future in doubt, Miller is showing himself to be a more than capable pivot man for AV.

Team Defense – This game was a complete 180 of the games against the Avalanche and Maple Leafs to start the year. The Rangers maintained good gap control, got in the shooting lanes to block shots, and perhaps most importantly, didn’t back down in the third period and go to the defensive shell, aka “The Turtle.” The Rangers defense had been the talk of the summer, with the team adding Kevin Shattenkirk. But for the Rangers to be successful this season, they’ll need all six defensemen to play at a high level for all 82 games.

POWER Play – The Rangers PP did not convert against Carey Price in this one, but it wasn’t because they reverted to last season’s man-advantage unit. The Rangers this season have come in and established that their power-play is going to be shoot-first and that all passing will be for the purpose of getting the puck to the net. The Blueshirts had seven shots in three extra-man situations, a number which would’ve taken games to get to last season. And that number could’ve been higher if you include the missed connections the Rangers had during their second-period chances.

Physical Play – When Tanner Glass left the Rangers organization this summer, there was one question that needed to be asked, “would the Rangers have a physical presence?” And that question was answered in this one. The Rangers continuously threw their bodies against the Canadiens; lining up the Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge 24 times and cleared the front of the net multiple times for Henrik Lundqvist. The team is built for speed and skill, but learning to play the physical game can only help them going forward.

Henrik Lundqvist – After being pulled less than 24 hours earlier, Henrik Lundqvist played his best game of this short season. King Henrik pitched a shutout, including a few fine saves to protect the Rangers tenuous one-goal lead. In Toronto, Henrik had no support from the guys in front of him. In this one, he had the guys in front of him playing the way they are supposed to play. As we all know, if he can see it, he will save it. And this performance was a prime example.

Alain Vigneault – The Rangers head coach has come under fire for the way he configured his lineups so far this season. After gluing rookie Filip Chytil to the bench for most of the game in Toronto, AV decided to sit Brendan Smith, along with Chytil, in this one. AV opted to roll seven defense-men against the Canadiens and while the result was favorable, it isn’t how the Rangers are going to be successful this season. The Rangers management needs to make a decision on Chytil ASAP. Sending him to Juniors or to Europe would be much better for his development, rather than having him sit in the press box above the MSG ice. As for Smith, he didn’t have a good game in Toronto and sitting him now isn’t the biggest deal in the world. You’d much rather have him sit now instead of January or February as the Rangers are fighting for a playoff spot.

With all the criticism of the Rangers head coach, let’s give credit where it’s due. The Rangers head coach, and by extension video coach Jerry Dineen, challenged two first period goals by the Canadiens. Both were taken off the board and kept the game scoreless until Skjei notched his first of the year.

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


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