Rangers Providing Glimmer of Hope During Lackluster Start
The new season is underway, but the Rangers start has been less than stellar. After a close loss to the Nashville Predators on opening night, they proceeded to sleep through their visit to Buffalo and blow multiple leads in Carolina to cap off their first three games. But despite the concerning 1-4 start to the year, there are several bright spots. Many of the veterans need to step up, but promising performances by several others have brightened the mood ever so slightly.
One of the most exciting players to watch thus far has been alternate captain Jesper Fast. Fast has been regarded as a high energy player with no quit for years, and from that his offensive abilities have developed. Fast scored the Rangers first goal of the season on opening night against the Predators and has gone on to dish out an additional three assists. Fast’s four points in five games is an exciting statistic to look at, but it is his continuing grit and heart that makes his start to the year so pleasing. Despite the Rangers rough go at it so far, he continues to pump out maximum effort and be a true leader of this team. Rangers fans should expect to see this every game from Fast, and he should prove to be an instrumental part in developing the young forward corps.
Rangers fans have been looking for Jimmy Vesey to become a star for some time now. He is still far from that distinction and may never earn that title, but he is off to a good start nonetheless. Vesey has two goals so far, both of which were scored in last Sunday‘s loss to the Hurricanes. But despite the lack of point production in the majority of the games thus far, he’s been strong on the ice and has been the force behind many of the Rangers early season scoring chances. He has found the ability to get to the front of the net and has caused goaltenders to have to make tough saves. If Vesey is able to keep this play up going forward, he should be in for his strongest year yet.
Filip Chytil has been one of the more noticeable players at the start of this season. He has dished out two assists in five games, including a beautiful no-look centering pass to setup Jesper Fast’s opening night goal. He has been hard on the puck in the offensive zone and has showed his skating abilities early on. That said, the only concern thus far are the rookie mistakes he has been making positioning and turnover wise, but that is to be expected from an 18-year–old playing his first games as a full-time NHL-er. As the year continues, he will begin to hone his skills more and find his ability to put the puck in the back of the net. Rangers fans should continue to be excited for this kid, because once he settles in, he will be the most dynamic player on the roster.
Perhaps the most surprising and exciting player to start the season, Brett Howden, has quickly caught the eyes of the fans, players, and coaching staff. Howden has put up three points in five games, which include a nifty centering play that set up Chris Kreider’s first goal of the year in Carolina, a nice score off a rebound near the net mouth in Buffalo, and a gorgeous between the legs goal versus San Jose. Howden has been all over the ice, showing his true ability at the center position and in the offensive zone. He has been strong on the boards and clearly knows how to get pucks to the right areas. His defensive positioning has been good and he has begun to solidify his status as a two-way centerman. Sent out in the final minutes of several of the first five games, Howden has quickly earned the trust of David Quinn and should continue to turn heads as the weeks draw on. After all, he made the team over 2017 first rounder Lias Andersson, so expectations are high.