Quick Hits – Rangers vs Canucks 11/26/17

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Here is our Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 4-3 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks.

KZB Line – For much of the first 40 minutes of the game, the Rangers seemed to only have one line playing well, which was the line of Kreider, Zibanejad, and Buchnevich. The trio didn’t get on the scoresheet in this one, but they did draw two penalties and combined for three shots on goal. It isn’t much when you consider that this threesome has been the Rangers top line all season. But they created a lot of havoc for the Canucks defense and goaltender.

Jesper Fast – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can’t not like Jesper Fast and the way he plays. He is the guy doing all the dirty work in the corners, throwing his body in front of everything and everyone to help out his team. His hard work was rewarded with the goal that got the Rangers on the board with just over two minutes left in the second. After Fast kept the puck in the zone, the play worked its way around to the blue line. Brendan Smith passed to Nick Holden who fired a hard pass to the slot. Fast fought off his man and redirected the puck into the net for his fourth of the year. The Swedish winger has three goals in the last three games and him scoring goals will only endear him more to the fans, and teammates, that already adore his game.

Michael Grabner – Whenever a player goes up against his former team, he always has a little bit of an extra jump in his step. Grabner used that extra jump to tie the game at two just 19 seconds into the third period. Streaking down the boards, Grabner took a soft bank pass from Mats Zuccarello, came down the wing, and fired one under the glove of Jacob Markstrom. The goal was Grabner’s tenth of the season and his eighth in third periods. Grabner’s ten goals have all come at even strength, which puts him tied for fourth in the NHL in that category.

Jimmy Vesey – Its been an interesting couple of weeks for the young winger. He scored two goals against his hometown Bruins on November 8th, got his teeth knocked into his lip on November 11th, and then scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in this one for the Blueshirts.

If you only looked at what happened in the offensive zone, you wouldn’t be able to appreciate how nice the goal was that got the Rangers to the extra period. As you’ll see on the replay, Vesey starts the play in his own zone by starting the breakout. Vesey follows up the play, as Hayes sends an area pass for Nash. Nash takes the pass and spins the puck to Vesey cutting towards the net. The youngster takes the pass and goes forehand-backhand and puts where mama hides the cookies to the game.

But the kid wasn’t finished just yet. With this game being on the anniversary of the Marek Malik between-the-legs wondergoal, it was only fitting that the Rangers would have to get the extra point in a shootout. After Rick Nash and Kevin Shattenkirk extended the shootout to a seventh round, Henrik Lundqvist made the save on Ben Hutton, putting the game on the stick of number 26. Vesey made a quick deke on his backhand at the top of the right circle and then took the puck on his forehand and lasered the puck over top of Markstrom. Vesey has been in the bottom six all season for Alain Vigneault’s squad, but he certainly has the talent, should his game begin to evolve, to become a top-six forward.

“You get a million things going through your mind when you get a chance like that. Your eyes always light up. You’re playing the scenario in your head before it even happens. I didn’t even have time to yell for the puck and it was on my tape. I guess instinct just took over. Thankfully I got it over his pad.” – Jimmy Vesey

Slow Start and Turnovers – The Rangers biggest issues in this game were a slow start and being careless with the puck. As John Giannone said on the MSG postgame show: “the first 40 minutes (or so) looked like the October Rangers. But the last 20 minutes looked like the November Rangers.” The Blueshirts have been better of late with their starts, but the Rangers seemed to have left their legs in their beds for the first two periods. The team looked slow and lethargic, not making the extra effort necessary to win games.

And because of the lack of legs, the Rangers were being careless with the puck. Too many times they were making blind passes that were easily intercepted by Vancouver, including a turnover in the first period leading to the goal by Loui Eriksson. The Rangers still lead the NHL in giveaways with 368 and will have to clean it up over a full game to really turn this season around.

“I think it’s coming. I think we’ve still got some areas to fix and some consistency issues where we can put together a full 60 [minutes] instead of a good period here and there.” – Rick Nash

Brady Skjei – Getting back to the positives from this game, Brady Skjei has really started to come into his own as a top defenseman in the NHL. The sophomore defenseman played nearly 28 minutes to lead the team and had two shots on net and three hits. We have seen him become more and more confident with the puck, carrying it up the ice himself and creating offensive chances. Especially in the absence of Ryan McDonagh, who is recovering from an abdominal strain, Skjei’s emergence, alongside Kevin Shattenkirk, is something that this team is going to need going forward.

Henrik Lundqvist – After facing 41 shots against the Red Wings on Friday night, Lundqvist faced 32 shots in this one to backstop the Rangers to victory. Henrik was called into action early and often in the first 40 minutes, and he made sure to give his team the chance to come back in the third and get at least a point. And with the Canucks controlling play for most of OT, Henrik made some great stops to get the game to the shootout. Henrik’s game looks like its as good as it ever was, but time will tell if his body starts to break down a bit because of the extended early workload.

NEXT GAME: The Rangers will host their Hockey Fights Cancer night on Tuesday when they face the Panthers.

Puck drops at 7!


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