Quick Hits – Rangers vs Canucks 11/15

Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

Here is my Quick Hits recap of last night’s Rangers 7-2 win over the Canucks 

  • JT Miller – JT Miller seems to have finally blossomed into the player the Rangers have been waiting for. He is leading the team with 17 points, after picking up 2 goals in this game. He was noticeable all over the ice, and scored his goals because he was in the right position. The work he did in the off-season is really showing, and JT and the Rangers are reaping the rewards.
  • Kevin Hayes – What else is there left to say? Hayes has been a new man this year, and is looking every bit the standout from Boston College that the Rangers thought they’d be getting. He has benefited greatly from all of his off season training, and he really is putting the rest of the league on notice. He picked up 2 more goals tonight, won 50 percent of his faceoffs, and did a real nice job on the peanlty kill. If he keeps up this level of play, he could be in contention for some hardware at the end of the season.

  • Mats Zuccarello – Mats Zuccarello continues to be the quiet assassin. He picked up a goal and two assists last night, and was always around the puck. He played in all situations, including one minute of time on the penalty kill. He is one of the few guys in the NHL that a head coach can put onto the ice, and never have to worry about him. He is a constant, and the whole team really benefits from his play.
  • Jesper Fast – Speaking of quiet contributors, Jesper Fast had another strong game last night. He had the primary assist on both of Kevin Hayes’ goals, and made the defensive plays when the opportunity arose. He blocked a shot, causing him to limp to the bench, but he was able to come back and finish out the game. For a bottom 6 player, he seems to be able to play wherever you put him, and he will always do his job.
  • Brady Skjei – Skjei continued his superb play in his rookie season, contributing another assist and having another solid game. His consistency on the back end has really allowed AV to stick with this group of six defensemen, and not have to worry about who will be the defensive group going forward. Barring injuries, this team looks to be pretty much set all across the board, and Brady Skjei is a big part of it on defense.
  • Marc Staal – Marc Staal has shown us the player we had gotten used to see. After his rough year last season, he has bounced back nicely. He had two shot blocks last night, and did a superb job on the penalty kill. He had his stick in the right place, made the smart plays along the wall, and made sure to play defense first. If he can keep this up all season, fans will be able to trust him again.
  • Henrik Lundqvist – The Blueshirts had a chance to win this game tonight because of King Henrik. The Canucks fired 17 shots on net in the first period, and Henrik stopped them all. He was under pressure for good stretches of the game, and made sure to hold his ground. This was one of those games that early on, fans were a bit skeptical. But with the King in net, we were all able to relax, and have confidence that the Rangers would turn the game around.
  • Team Balance – The depth and scoring balance have been a big key to the Rangers success so far this season. Lines 2-4 scored 6 of the team’s 7 goals, and Nick Holden added one from the back end. One of the problems for the Rangers the last few years has been scoring from their depth, and this year seems to be a huge step in the right direction. Players like Hayes, Miller and Grabner have 8,7 and 10 goals respectively. This allows a guy like Rick Nash, who has played well this season, to not have to worry if he doesn’t score every night.
  • Special Teams – Another vastly improved area of the Rangers game has been the special teams. The penalty kill last night was a perfect 4/4 and the powerplay was 2/3. The Rangers special teams last season was, to put in nicely, real bad. This year, the team seems to take the ice with confidence both shorthanded and on the powerplay, and it has manifested itself so far this season. The powerplay is fourth best in the league at 24.1% and the PK is eighth best at 85.1%. If the special teams can keep up this level throughout the season, the Rangers will be a dangerous team for all 60 minutes.

  • Team Defense – One of the things that really stood out last night was the Rangers defense. The team blocked 21 shots, and forced Vancouver into 12 giveaways. The Rangers are playing defense first hockey, and are transitioning at lightning speed. The old adage of defense wins championships seems to have really motivated this team to make sure they play the defensive system as well as they can. Guys are giving up their bodies for the good of the team, the Rangers are keeping pucks out of the net, and the goalies definitely appreciate it.

Next Game: The Blueshirts finish off their 4 game road trip in Columbus on Friday night against the Blue Jackets. Puck drops at 7!


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