Press the pause button before writing off the New York Rangers. Even though it appeared they suffered a set back with back to back losses last week, a combination of two NY wins and two Boston losses have closed the gap to 4 points with 7 games remaining. Two of which are against the Bruins.
Rangers narrow playoff gap with another offensive explosion
The Blueshirts could’ve cashed in their chips after getting hammered by the Islanders 6-1, on night where every team ahead of them won. They could have also done it after losing to the Flyers 3-2 the next game. Instead, they put their heads down and won the last two games.
By beating the Sabres 6-3 yesterday, the Rangers have narrowed the gap with the Bruins to four points. Mika Zibanejad notched a hat-trick in the effort, his third of the season. Adam Fox notched three assists to continue making his case for the Norris Trophy. And Kaapo Kakko is starting to prove why he was the number 2 overall pick in 2019 with two goals.
“That’s the only thing we can do, try to win games and see how far that takes us, really,” Zibanejad said. “That’s our mindset right now, just focus on the next game, try to get the two points and move on from there.”NHL.com
As for the Bruins, they are still very much in control of their own destiny. Even though the Rangers have narrowed the gap to just four points, play Boston two more times, and hold tie-breakers the B’s have two games in hand.
Zac Jones notches his first NHL point and other notes
Zac Jones was awarded the Broadway Hat after picking up his first NHL point in just the third game of his NHL career. It came on Kaapo Kakko’s second of the game on the power play with Pavel Buchnevich getting the primary assist. A great moment for the kid who said, “it loosens you up, it was a pretty easy one.” Jones smiled when he divulged his thinking on the play that got him his first point. “I said to myself, just get the puck to [Buchnevich] and let him do what he does.”
Igor Shesterkin picked up the win and was solid making 31 stops. The Blueshirts had too many defensive lapses after building up a sizable lead which David Quinn pointed out as an issue in the game. “We are entertaining if nothing else,” he noted. Per NYR Stats, with his 24th career win, Shesterkin passed Andy Aitkenhead and Steve Weeks for the sixth-most wins by a rookie goaltender in franchise history; he only trails Mike Richter (33), Henrik Lundqvist (30), Jim Henry (29), Johnny Bower (29), and Gilles Villemure (25).
Alexis Lafrenière picked up his third point in his last two games as the Rangers first line left wing. His confidence and swagger continue to grow in a positive way per his head coach. “Last thing I would ever call this guy is lazy,” Quinn said. “He’s playing with a big time level of confidence as he should be.”
Rangers Postgame Notes
- Mika Zibanejad registered a hat trick in tonight’s game, which was the Rangers’ sixth hat trick of the 2020-21 season (Zibanejad – three; Chris Kreider – two; Pavel Buchnevich – one). The Blueshirts are the only NHL team that has recorded six hat tricks this season. According to NHL Stats and Information, the Rangers have recorded at least six hat tricks in a season for the first time since 1991-92 (eight – Mark Messier recorded three, and Tony Amonte, Paul Broten, Mike Gartner, Adam Graves, and Darren Turcotte each registered one).
- Adam Fox tallied three assists, including a power play assist (which was his 40th assist of the season), tied for the team-high with two takeaways, and posted a plus-two rating while skating in a team-high 24:45 of ice time. Fox has recorded 41 assists and 46 points this season.
- The Rangers have won eight of their last 10 home games (8-2-0 record) and have outscored opponents, 51-24, in the 10 contests over the span. New York has also earned at least one point in 10 of its last 12 home games (9-2-1 record).
- Of the 20 players who dressed for the Rangers in tonight’s game, 14 were either selected by the team in the NHL Entry Draft and/or have only played with the Rangers in their NHL career.
The Rangers will practice today, 12:00 p.m. at MSG Training Center. Next game is Tuesday, Apr. 27 vs. Buffalo (7:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG Network).
Notes courtesy NYR