Quick Hits – Rangers vs Senators 12/27/16
Here is my Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 4-3 win over the Senators.
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Derek Stepan – After what could only be described as a brutal start for the Rangers, Derek Stepan showed why the coaching staff and the team relies on a guy like Stepan. He was seen yelling at his teammates after the Senators took a 2-0 lead in the first 3:10 of the game; and boy did the team respond. But Stepan wasn’t just talk tonight. He backed it up by scoring two goals, including the power play goal to tie the game. He earned the “A” on his jersey tonight, and he will definitely be a key factor for the Blueshirts going forward.
Mats Zuccarello – While Zucc registered the primary assist on the second of Derek Stepan’s goals in this one, that is not why he gets mentioned here. With the Rangers down 3-2 in the second, Brady Skjei gets hit hard into the boards by Chris Neil. And as always, the much smaller Zuccarello got right into the face of Neil and started with the fisticuffs. If you ever had a doubt as to who plays with the most heart on this team, now you shouldn’t have any. One could argue that this sequence gave the Rangers that extra boost to get the game tied, and ultimately the win.
Jimmy Vesey – After he was being chirped at by the Senators bench all night, Vesey answered the call and dropped his gloves. Vesey knocked down Derick Brassard at the blue line and Mark Stone didn’t like it. They scrap wasn’t anything special, but it’s nice to see the kid not being afraid to do the dirty work if necessary.
Dan Girardi – It was not a good game for Dan Girardi. He has definitely improved his play from last season, but tonight he got caught flat footed on numerous occasions, and looked like a traffic cone out on the ice. And while he certainly isn’t the player he was when the Rangers signed him to his huge contract, there is one thing he always does; and that is block shots. He had four blocks in this game, including one in the third period that left him a bit hobbled as he skated off the ice. If he can figure out a way to get back to even half of what he was 3 years ago, he should be fine.
Nick Holden – Coming into the season, Nick Holden was sort of a question mark. He was known as a shot blocker in Colorado, but not a guy who would contribute much on the offensive end. And this season he has done both. Holden scored two goals in this one, the opening goal for the Blueshirts and the game winner, and was solid in his own end as well. He had two blocked shots in this game and saved the game in the third by getting his stick in front of a tip in attempt to an open net. Holden has arguably been the surprise of the team this season, and he is on pace for a career year.
Ryan McDonagh – The Rangers captain had a good game and picked up three assists. He had one egregious turnover that was bailed out by Antti Raanta, but other than that he was solid. He has now put up six points in his last five games, and is already nearing his point total for all of last season. If he can keep putting up the points, he will be a threat from the back end for the rest of the season and beyond.
Antti Raanta – If you stopped watching this game after the Rangers were down 2-0 in the first, you missed one heck of a performance by Antti Raanta. After giving up those two goals, and receiving a Bronx cheer, Raanta went on to stop 33 of the next 34 shots against him, including this one on Cody Ceci. If not for Raanta, this game could’ve been much worse for the Blueshirts.
Special Teams – The Rangers special teams were a huge part of the comeback in this one. The penalty kill was a perfect 4-4 and generated a few offensive chances. The power play was only 1-4, but the Rangers scored twice as their power play’s came to an end. Those two goals won’t count towards the statistics, but it was definitely a good night for the Rangers power play.
Team Emotion – One thing Rangers fans have been asking, no begging, for this season has been some emotion and some grit. This team was built for speed and finesse and not physicality, but that does not mean that the team is excused for mixing it up when the time is right. Tonight, the Blueshirts did what everyone has been waiting for, and it paid off. The team got energized by the Vesey fight and Zucc stepping up to challenge Chris Neil. If the team plays with this kind of emotion in every game, the team shouldn’t go through another stretch like the one they just did.
NEXT GAME: The Rangers will head out west to Arizona to take on the Coyotes on Thursday. Puck drops at 9!
LETS GO RANGERS!