Quick Hits – Rangers vs Coyotes 12/29/16

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Here is my Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 6-3 win over the Coyotes

  • Matt Puempel – Not a lot was known about Matt Puempel when Jeff Gorton signed him. But the one thing everyone kept saying was that he had some offensive ability. And boy did Puempel show it tonight. Puempel recorded his first NHL Hat Trick, with three power play goals (including the GWG), and was a threat all night. He was originally thought of as a depth signing, but if he can start putting a few good games together, it will be hard to take him out of the lineup.
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  • JT Miller – For a player that was thought of as being key to the Rangers coming into the season, JT has been somewhat quiet this year. He scored his 10th of the season into the empty net, and made the play to set up the goal by Nick Holden. Hopefully this game gets JT out of his funk, and back to the scoring capacity that we saw glimpses of at the beginning of the season.
  • Kevin Hayes – It was another strong game for the Rangers center, as he registered three assists to help lead the team to victory. Hayes was making plays all over the ice, and is really starting to show everyone why he had all of the hype when the Rangers signed him a few summers ago. As I have said before, if Hayes can keep up his level of play over the course of the whole season, he will be a very dangerous player as his career progresses.
  • Derek Stepan Line – Amidst all of the injuries to the Rangers forward group, the line of Kreider-Stepan-Zuccarello have been very productive. The line combined to score the Rangers third goal of the game, with Zuccarello assisting on the goal by Chris Kreider. With Nash getting better by the day, and Buchnevich and Zibanejad coming along, hopefully this line stays together when the team gets healthy.
  • Nick Holden – Nick Holden was sort of a question mark coming into the season, but he has been a very pleasant surprise. Holden had a goal and an assist in this game, and has been good on the back end with Marc Staal. He has been a diamond in the rough for Jeff Gorton and Alain Vigneault this season.
  • Antti Raanta – Antti didn’t have a ton of work in this one, only facing 21 shots, but he came up big when called upon. The Coyotes hung around all game, and were able to take advantage of a few Rangers mistakes. He made a couple of key saves, including this one early in the third, that helped keep the Rangers in front. After the Coyotes tied the game, the Rangers only gave up 1 shot against, but Raanta is showing his value to this team. While there is no goalie controversy, Raanta gives the Rangers one of the best, if not the best, goalie tandems in the league.
  • Special Teams – The story of this game was really the Rangers power play. The unit went 4 for 7 on the night, and even when they couldn’t convert, were able to get shots to the net. The power play has been significantly improved over last season, jumping up to fifth best in the league at this point of the season. If the power play can continue to be productive, the Rangers will be dangerous in all offensive phases of the game. As for the penalty kill, the unit was solid in this one, going 1 for 3. The goal they gave up came off of a defensive breakdown, as the Coyotes worked a give and go past Girardi and Klein. The PK is ninth in the league, which is 17 spots better than last season. If the Rangers can keep up their special teams play, they won’t need to worry about anything, whether they are a man up or a man down.
  • NEXT GAME: The Rangers end off 2016 in Colorado on Saturday night when they take on the Avalanche. Puck drops at 8!


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