Quick Hits – Rangers vs Maple Leafs 10/7/17

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Here is my Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 8-5 loss to the Maple Leafs.

Mats Zuccarello – The newly minted Rangers alternate captain showed exactly why the coaches gave him the letter over his heart. The diminutive Norwegian had points on all four of the Rangers’ goals, with his first of the year tying the game at five. We all know how Zuccarello is loved by fans, coaches, and teammates because of the way he plays; and tonight was a prime example of The Hobbit’s brilliance.

JT Miller – The Rangers were looking for JT Miller to step up this year, and he had a good showing tonight. The Rangers forward was all over the ice, picking up a goal and an assist, as well as a huge hit on veteran Ron Hainsey. Miller is going to be counted on this year in the wake of Derek Stepan’s absence from the team, and this was a good step in that direction.


Kevin Shattenkirk – It took just two games for the newest Rangers defenseman to get his first goal with the club. The highly touted offensive defenseman showed just why he was widely considered one of the best in the league with a wrist shot on the PP to cut the deficit to 5-2 late in the first. Shattenkirk was brought in to help stabilize the Rangers in their own zone, but his skill in the offensive zone certainly will give this team a big boost.

Marc Staal – For all that was made of Marc Staal remaining with the Rangers over the summer, Staal had a renaissance performance against the young Maple Leafs. Staal put in a goal and an assist for the Blueshirts, as well as two hits and a blocked shot. With the Rangers defense struggling after the first period, Vigneault decided to reunite Staal with Ryan McDonagh, and it seemed to work for the remainder of the game. If Staal can find his old game again, it will only help the Rangers going forward.

Filip Chytil – After what was a very good preseason for the 18-year-old, one which saw him win the Rangers award for best prospect, the Czech teenager was glued to the bench for most of this one. Chytil played just 4:59 in this one, by far the lowest of all skaters. Given how AV has used the youngster, it is quite possible he gets sent back to either his Junior team, the North Bay Battalion, or back to his European team, HC Zlin.

Power Play – One area of concern entering the 2017-18 season was the Rangers special teams, particularly the power play. But so far this year, the Rangers PP has been one of their biggest strengths. Through their two games, the Rangers have gone 4/9 with the man-advantage, good for third in the NHL. Now granted it’s just been two games, but the way the team has controlled the puck and started to have a “shoot first mentality,” it’s been a much-needed change from the last couple of years.

Henrik Lundqvist/Ondrej Pavelec – It’s been a rough start for King Henrik, who is looking to bounce back off of a shaky 2016-17. Hank didn’t have much help in this one, with his teammates putting him in bad positions all throughout the first period. Former Ranger Dominic Moore deflected a point shot up and over Lundqvist, Hyman’s first came off a turnover, Gardiner walked around three Rangers, Zaitsev scored after a turnover and the fifth goal was slid past Lundqvist by Grabner. It wasn’t Henrik’s night, but his understudy did a decent job in his place. Pavelec came in and held the fort for 27+ minutes until Gardiner found Bozak streaking through the Rangers defense to give the Leafs the lead for good.

Alain Vigneault – There is a lot to talk about when it comes to the head coach in this one. You can start with the sparingly used Filip Chytil or the way his team came out flat as a pancake in the first. But some credit should be given to the bench boss, who galvanized his team enough to tie the game during the second period. AV made some good decisions to rearrange his lineup to put his team in what was at the time a better position to win. But with that said, AV still has a lot of questions that he needs to answer, and if he can’t, he may be out on Broadway looking for work.

NEXT GAME: The Rangers have no time to sulk and get right back at it on Sunday night against the Canadiens. Puck drops at 7!


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