Quick Hits – Rangers vs Sabres 12/1/16
Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images
Here is my Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 4-3 loss to the Sabres
Rick Nash – It was another great game for Rick Nash, who contributed with a power play goal to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Nash had 3 SOG, a hit, and a blocked shot. He’s really stepped up his level of play in the last couple of weeks, and he is beginning to really earn the “A” that the Rangers gave him at the beginning of the season.
Chris Kreider – It was another solid effort by Kreider, who was all over the ice in this one. He set a beautiful screen on McDonagh’s goal, absolutely ran over Cody Franson, and retrieved the puck that led to the goal by Staal. He seems to be starting to regain the form that made him so dominant early in the season. If he can keep this up, he will be a true force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.
Jimmy Vesey – In a game where every time he touched the puck he was booed, Jimmy Vesey had another solid game. He only had one shot on net, but he was in good position all night long. He was in front for the deflection of a Clendening pass that lead to the goal by Nash. Since the game in Philadelphia last week, he is slowly but surely getting himself established at the NHL level.
Jesper Fast – As I mentioned after the game against Carolina, Jesper Fast is an underrated player on the Rangers roster. He is a grinder, who will give you the same thing every night, no matter what line he is on. And he did just that again in this game. He, along with Kreider, won the board battle in the second period that led to the goal from Marc Staal. He doesn’t always end up in the box score, but his contributions are always noticed by his teammates.
Ryan McDonagh – Ryan McDonagh finally got the monkey off his back. After 24 games without a goal, McDonagh scored his first of the year on a wrist shot from the point in the first period. Although he was solid for the entire game, he was on the ice for both the tying and winning goals by Jack Eichel in the third. He played well overall, but ended up with a -2 on the night.
Marc Staal – Marc Staal had one of his most impressive games of the season. He had the Rangers third goal of the game, and had a couple of other chances that easily could have ended up in the back of the net. He was in good defensive position all night, and didn’t make the mistakes that we saw all of last season. He seems to have started to return to his expected level of play, which can only be good for the Rangers.
Adam Clendening – In his first game in a long time, Clendening was solid. He had the secondary assist on the goal by Nash, and made a couple of good offensive plays coming out of the zone. However, he was a little suspect on defense, which is why he’s been held out of the lineup for so long. To me, he almost seems like that player who could either be a 7th defenseman or a 4th line forward. He gets easily muscled off the puck in the defensive zone, but is gifted enough offensively that he deserves a chance to be in the lineup. He is getting this chance to prove himself because of the sub-par play of Kevin Klein, who had been good over his 2+ years with the Blueshirts. If Clendening can figure out how to play an effective defensive game, he will only improve his stock. But if he doesn’t, the Rangers will be in even more trouble than they were to begin with.
Henrik Lundqvist – It was not a good night for Henrik Lundqvist, and it couldn’t have started any worse. The Sabres opened the scoring just 18 seconds into the game when a dump in went off of the skate of Johan Larsson at the blue line, and bounced in passed Lundqvist. He was able to shake it off and finished off the rest of the period. But it just seemed like he was trying too hard, and over-complicated his game. He over-slid multiple times, and was caught down and out on more than one occasion, including on Eichel’s game winner. He has been solid to start the year, but he is going to have to figure it out ASAP if the Rangers have any designs on winning the cup this year.
Close Games/Forechecking – This game was the Rangers 8th 1-goal game of the season, and they are now 3-4-1 in these games. The Rangers were taking the league by storm early on, scoring goals at will and from every angle in every possible way. But now it’s December, and teams are figuring out how to stop the Rangers high powered attack, and it’s pretty simple: clog up the neutral zone. The Rangers can’t seem to get into their offense if they can’t carry the puck over the blue line. And when they play against good defensive teams, or have off nights, they seem like they can’t score. If this team wants to do anything this season, they have got to start figuring out how to get the forecheck working when they aren’t scoring 5 goals a night. They have come back to reality, and are going to need to win these close games to get into the playoffs and beyond
Next Game: The Rangers will look to bounce back on Saturday at MSG when they take on the Hurricanes. Puck drops at 1!
LETS GO RANGERS!