Quick Hits – Rangers vs Kings 1/23/17
Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images
Here is my Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 3-2 win over the Kings
Brandon Pirri – The Rangers got on the board in this one thanks to a heads up play from Brandon Pirri. With the Kings looking to break out of their own zone, a misplayed pass landed right on the stick of Pirri, and he made no mistake to give the Rangers the early lead. Pirri was brought in for his shot and he netted his eigth of the season with this goal.
Matt Puempel – A waiver wire pickup in November, Matt Puempel has added a nice bit of depth to the Rangers bottom three. After missing the Rangers last eight games due to a concussion, Puempel came in and picked up right where he left off. He was bumped up to the Stepan line in place of Chris Kreider, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. With the Rangers leading 1-0 in the second, Puempel took a feed from Derek Stepan on a 2v1 and buried it past a flailing Jeff Zatkoff. If he can keep up his play, it will be tough for AV to take him out of the lineup.
Mats Zuccarello – It has been a bittersweet stretch of games for the Norwegian. Over the last 16 games, Zucc had not scored a single goal, but had picked up 17 assists in that span. And he finally ended that streak in this one, scoring the game winner. After a harmless dump in from Adam Clendening, JT Miller forced a turnover by Kings goalie Jeff Zatkoff. Miller picked up the loose puck and found a cutting Zuccarello who deposited the puck into the top corner. Hopefully this gets Mats back on the goal scoring track.
JT Miller – With Kevin Hayes out of the lineup due to injury, JT Miller stepped into his spot and continued his strong play. He was physical, made sure to come back and play defense, and was tenacious all game. He was the reason that the Rangers scored their third goal, by making Zatkoff handle the puck under pressure. He had been counted on at the beginning of the year to take some big strides in his development, and boy has he done that so far.
Kevin Klein/Dan Girardi – The Rangers defense had a very nice night, and they got contributions from two of their most criticized members, Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein. After Mats Zuccarello got hit into the boards behind the Kings net, Klein immediately jumped in and dropped the gloves with Brayden McNabb. He was -2 on the night, which isn’t good, but he blocked five shots and had four hits. It was the kind of night that Klein has been needing to have all season long. As for Girardi, he had a “vintage” performance with four blocked shots. He also made the breakout pass that led to the goal by Matt Puempel. One can only hope that this game serves as a catalyst for both of these players the rest of the way.
Henrik Lundqvist – King Henrik is back! He stopped 36 of the Kings 38 shots, including this great pad save on Carter early in the first. He has been tracking the puck well and has been controlling his rebounds well. He has bounced back very nicely. He said after the game “I simplified my entire thinking”, and it has helped him immensely. This last stretch certainly has been a confidence booster for Henrik, and it will carry him the rest of the season.
Alain Vigneault – It doesn’t always end up on the boxscore, but AV made a couple of adjustments during the game that helped propel the Rangers to victory. After seeing the way Matt Puempel had been playing during the first period, and maybe how Chris Kreider wasn’t playing, the two forwards swapped spots, with Puempel playing alongside Stepan and Zuccarello. Moves like these are one of the reasons that AV has been a successful NHL coach. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but they really paid off in this one.
“Carter… end of the first period, timely save. Give me a timely save any time of the day.” – Alain Vigneault on Henrik Lundqvist
NEXT GAME: The Rangers will lace ’em up for the last time before the All-Star break on Wednesday night when the take on the Flyers. Puck drops at 8!
LETS GO RANGERS!