Rangers Recall: Bottom-Six zap Lightning to extend winning streak

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers bottom-six came up big on Wednesday, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 at the Garden.

Jimmy Vesey scored twice and Jonny Brodzinski notched the winning tally to give the Blueshirts their first three-game win streak since mid-December (12/15 – 12/19). It was a defensive battle for the most part, with the Lightning playing hard and physical against the Rangers’ top two lines. If there was ever a game New York needed depth scoring, it was last night.

“It’s good to see them go in,” Vesey noted afterwards. “It can’t be the same guys every night. It was big for our line and Jonny’s line to get rewarded. Hopefully that’s something we can build on and springboard into this second half.”

Let’s look at some key takeaways from the Blueshirts victory.

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NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow

After a strong start to the season, Vesey hasn’t been lighting the lamp much with just two goals in his previous 22 games. However, against a very good goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy, he went top shelf from a sharp angle and added an empty-netter to seal the deal.

His center, Barclay Goodrow, on the other hand is having a down year and hadn’t registered a point in 10 straight matches. But last night, he set up both Vesey tallies to sting his old team.

New York really needed to someone else to step up against the Bolts, and the bottom-six did. As Tampa made a concerted effort to check Artemi Panarin closely, it was players like Vesey and Goodrow that elevated their play.

“I know Jimmy’s offensive background from college,” coach Peter Laviolette said of Vesey. “I think he’s a responsible player defensively that thinks the game well and he can move up if we need him to. He’s a smart, talented offensive player.”

Vesey, 30, has eleven goals and five assists in 49 games this season. It’s noteworthy to point out that four goals are game-winners.

Goodrow, 31, only has one goal and six assists in 49 contests.

Jonny Brodzinski doing a solid job

Everyone loves an underdog story, and on the Rangers, Jonny Brodzinski is just that. It was his late second period rip by Vasilevskiy that turned out to be the decisive score.

Brodzinski is what they call in hockey, a journeyman. Someone who bounces around from team to team, but spends most of his time in the minors. Since being drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 2013, he’s spent some time with them, the San Jose Sharks, and now the Blueshirts.

Now in his 8th NHL season, the 30-year-old has played in only 133 games. If he plays in three more games this season for the Rangers, it will tie his career-high of 35, set with L.A. during the 2017-18 campaign.

Speaking of career-highs, Brodzinski’s 9 assists and 12 points this year are tops and counting. He needs two more goals to also set a mark in that category as well.

While Brodzinski is not the answer at third-line center, and a trade to bring one is likely in the works by the Mar. 8th trade deadline, he’s exactly what the team needs as an extra forward. A player the Rangers now they can insert into the lineup at any time that will fit in nicely.

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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