Quick Hits – Rangers vs Senators 11/19/17
Here is our Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 3-0 win over the Senators.
Kevin Hayes – When this season started, there was a lot of talk about whether or not Kevin Hayes was going to be able to elevate his game to be the team’s second line center. And so far, he’s done just that. He’s been responsible in his own zone, has gotten better with his decision making, and is starting to pick up the points. In this one, he was the beneficiary of some great forechecking by Jesper Fast and Jimmy Vesey. The two wingers forced a turnover in the offensive zone, and Vesey got the puck over to Hayes, who ripped a shot over the glove of Craig Anderson. The goal was Hayes’ fifth of the season and was also his third point in the last five games.
Michael Grabner – After a slow start offensively for the Austrian speedster, Grabner has started to pick up the points. And his goal against the Senators wasn’t a typical Michael Grabner goal. After Mats Zuccarello got the puck back to Marc Staal, the defenseman’s shot was beautifully deflected home by Grabner from the slot. Grabner picked up his ninth goal of the year and his nine tallies lead the Rangers in even-strength goals this season.
Rick Nash – Say what you will about the veteran power forward, but one of these days pucks are going to start hitting the back of the net. Nash had multiple chances in this one, including a shorthanded 2v1 with Hayes, but was unable to finish off the play. Nash only had two shots on net in this one, but he made countless good plays at the other end of the rink to help the Rangers secure the victory.
Boo Nieves – The youngest player on the Rangers roster, Nieves would be expected to have had some nerves about playing with the big club. But so far, he’s looked comfortable in his fourth line checking role. If he can maintain his level of play, he’d stabilize the Rangers’ bottom-six.
“When I looked at the replay, I think it was sort of an accident. Both guys were coming as they near the boards and both are making contact. It seemed to me Smitty’s helmet may have hit part of his head and that’s why he probably lost balance there. It just looked like more of an unfortunate hockey accident than anything else.” – Alain Vigneault
Brendan Smith – In his second game back from a six-game absence, Smith wasn’t able to shake off some of the rust from his long layoff. Smith had three giveaways before his questionable check on Mark Borowiecki that got him sent to the dressing room during the third period. Smith was paid handsomely by Jeff Gorton over the summer, and if he doesn’t start turning his game around, the Rangers may want to start looking at other more permanent lineup options.
Smith hits Borowiecki, who is out cold after hitting the boards. Scary play. pic.twitter.com/b29Az9bqTw
— Brandon Murphy (@2Murphy8) November 20, 2017
Henrik Lundqvist – King Henrik was outstanding against the Senators in this one, backstopping the Rangers for his second shutout of the season. Lundqvist made 20 saves, including this beautiful two-pad stack stop on Mike Hoffman. Henrik seems to have put last season in the rearview mirror, and he has been on top of his game in the last couple of weeks for Alain Vigneault’s squad. For more on Henrik’s play this season, click here.
Thoughts of @HLundqvist30: #LetsDoThatHockey pic.twitter.com/O75XDOFPkp
— NHL (@NHL) November 20, 2017
Penalty Kill – The Rangers would not have won this game had it not been for their penalty kill. The Blueshirts killed off two first period penalties to Smith and Kevin Shattenkirk and ended up with better scoring chances shorthanded than the Senators had at the other end. Then, with the Rangers leading 2-0 in the third, the special teams units killed off the five minute major to Brendan Smith. The Blueshirts PK is currently 14th best in the NHL, but a performance like we saw in this game will only give them more confidence going forward.
“The key to tonight was our penalty kill. We talked about it going into this game. I think the last couple of weeks we’ve been doing a really good job and tonight the focus was there and the determination was there to really kill off every power play. It set the tone in the first with some big kills. It was the difference tonight I think, not letting them have a goal there and kind of change the momentum of the game, so it was huge for us.” – Henrik Lundqvist
NEXT GAME: The Rangers will look to build on this win on Wednesday when they face the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh. Puck drops at 7!
LETS GO RANGERS!!