Rangers Drop Season Opener To Nashville

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After announcing the players, the Rangers paid tribute to an MSG icon. After passing away in April, the Rangers brought the family of longtime anthem singer John Amirante onto the ice and played video of him singing the national anthem before puck drop. Then it was time for hockey!

KZB – David Quinn’s top line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich had a quiet night overall, despite Buchnevich scoring the second goal of the game for the Rangers late in the third. Kreider wasn’t able to use his speed much in this one against Nashville’s defensive core, which is arguably the best in the league. This line is being counted on by the Blueshirts to be an offensive force night after night and they’ll need to start doing so on Saturday in Buffalo.

“It’s really hard to talk about all the positives and all the things we did well when we don’t win. You look forward to this game all summer and all training camp and you don’t come out with a win. That sucks.” – Mika Zibanejad

The Kids Are AlrightFilip Chytil, Vinni Lettieri, Neal Pionk and Brett Howden all experienced their first opening night in the NHL and each gave a solid performance at The Garden. Howden was 75% on faceoffs, despite losing the one leading to PK Subban’s goal. Pionk had a couple of takeaways and a shot block. Lettieri had a shot on net along with three of the team’s 24 hits. And finally Chytil, who delivered a gorgeous pass to Jesper Fast for the first goal of the season.

Henrik Lundqvist – After two seasons of, shall we say, less than stellar play from King Henrik, it seemed like Lundqvist is starting to regain his old form. Yes, it is very early in the season, but Lundqvist appeared controlled in his crease and was able to bail his teammates out when he was called upon. It certainly wasn’t the result he, or the team, wanted but it was a very good first game of the season for King Henrik.

David Quinn – In his first regular season game as bench boss of the New York Rangers, Quinn had himself a solid game as well. Obviously, this isn’t measured like the players, but the Rangers came out with a purpose, were physical, relentless on the puck and didn’t give up too many “Grade A” chances as we saw over the last couple of years. The Rangers had 24 hits tonight, as mentioned above, which would pace them for more hits than they’ve had in three of the last four seasons. The Rangers seem to have gravitated towards Quinn’s system which is much more aligned for today’s NHL.

I have two criticisms for Quinn in this game. First is the too many men penalty that negated a potential Rangers PP chance with 90 seconds to go in regulation. That is just a miscommunication between the coaching staff and/or the players jumping onto the ice. The other criticism is something that has plagued the Rangers for the last few years, and that is overhandling the puck and passing up chances to get the puck on net. Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes both chose to make the extra pass and the Rangers lost the chance to potentially score a goal against Pekka Rinne. Quinn will have to get his team to start thinking shoot-first at all times so that they don’t fall into the spiral of missed opportunities for another season.

That being said, when the Rangers got their chances and took them, they were unable to solve Pekka Rinne. Jimmy Vesey had a handful of “Grade A” chances but wasn’t able to put one past Rinne. This is something that is more in the purview of Jeff Gorton, who should be looking for a finisher, HELLO ARTEMI PANARIN, to help get the Rangers on the scoreboard more often.

Next Game: The Rangers will look to bounce back on Saturday in Buffalo against Jack Eichel and the Sabres. Puck drops at 7!


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