Rangers Recall: 5-on-5 scoring comes alive in weekend sweep

NHL: New York Islanders at New York Rangers
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It was a good weekend for the New York Rangers, who after a disappointing letdown against the Lightning in Tampa Bay, roared back to knock off two division rivals.

On Saturday, the Rangers outpaced a desperate Pittsburgh Penguins team on the road 7-4, capped with a Sunday 5-2 triumph over the New York Islanders at home. The Blueshirts exploded at 5-on-5 scoring over the last two games accounting for nine of the 12 goals scored (10 if you include an empty-net marker). That includes a St. Patty’s Day parade of 5-on-5 goals, as all five tallies versus the Isles were of the even-strength variety.

What’s really impressive is the team battled through a tough stretch of five games in seven days and went 4-1-0.

“It’s definitely a grind,” forward Jonny Brodzinski explained. “Especially with the earlier games (in the afternoon). It was a good effort by us.”

Related: Ryan Lindgren injured against Isles

Rangers Recall: Weekend Sweep

NHL: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

K’Andre Miller

One player that has truly elevated his game of late, especially with the lower-body injury to captain Jacob Trouba, is defenseman K’Andre Miller.

Over the weekend, it was he and not Artemi Panarin who led the offensive charge at 5-on-5 by scoring a goal and four assists. While Panarin did lead the Blueshirts in scoring with six points in two contests, thanks to a two goal and three assist performance against the Pens, Miller was a beast on both sides of the puck to shutdown the opposition.

Miller, 24, has 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 66 games to date.

Kaapo Kakko

Another player that came alive over the weekend was Kaapo Kakko, with two big even strength goals. Against the Penguins, he planted himself in front of the net to bang one home, and he followed that by pulling away from a sea of Islanders to beat Ilya Sorokin.

Overall, Kakko seems to look recharged with the weight of the trade deadline behind him. He’s here for the rest of the season and through the playoffs before having to worry about his next contract in the summer.

Kakko, 23, has 14 points (10 goals, four assists) in 47 games this season.

“Next thing is just to play as good as you can,” Kakko said. “That’s still the only thing you can think about. Playoffs, I just think about those and the next game, you know? Not anything else. [The contract is] going to come later. If you play well there, that’s going to change something.”

NY Post

The Line of Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Jack Roslovic

Despite the flurry of 5-on-5 goals, one line in particular did not feast like many of the others.

Mika Zibanejad, who got the party started on Sunday just 29 seconds into the second period with an even strength goal, notched his only points this weekend when not on special teams. Same for Chris Kreider thanks to an empty-net tally in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, newcomer Jack Roslovic managed just a single point over the weekend, assisting on Zibanejad’s goal against the Isles.

Simply put, this line needs to find ways to bury their chances when the sides are even.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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