Rangers Recall: Hot Bread and fourth line grit defeat Devils, plus more puzzling officiating
The New York Rangers and Igor Shesterkin shook off some rust in the first period against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night to an eventual 5-3 victory.
It was a game once again filled with Rangers’ resiliency as they had to overcome some questionable officiating. On the Devils’ first goal, Jack Hughes’ shot slowly squeaked through Shesterkin’s legs and rolled towards the net. However, the ref blew the whistle after losing sight of the puck before it crossed the line. A video review would disregard the whistle and allow the goal.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if Will Cuylle’s goal, which was clearly over the line against the Columbus Blue Jackets was allowed to stand. In that instance, the whistle came well after the puck was in. Of course, video review from the NHL Situation Room based in Toronto disallowed it saying the puck was frozen.
Bad officiating aside, let’s look back and highlight key takeaways from the Rangers latest win.
Rangers Recall: Hot Bread and Fourth Line Grit
On a night where the Rangers extended their team point streak to 11 games (10-0-1), Artemi Panarin scored 2 big goals to extend his personal season-opening point streak to 15 (10 goals, 16 assists).
After a disappointing playoffs, Panarin is off to the best start of his career. By scoring against the Devils, he now holds the franchise mark for the longest point streak to start a season and will look to continue it when the team takes on the Stars in Dallas tomorrow.
“I don’t like to say too much,” Panarin told the NY Post. “For a beginning of season, yes, I think I have a good month. But it is a long year. What I will say is if I play like this the whole year, it’s probably going to be a pretty good one.”
The 31 year-old Panarin currently ranks third in the NHL for scoring, sitting just 2 points behind three players tied for first with 28 points (Quinn Hughes, J.T. Miller, and Elias Pettersson) all who have played three more games.
One of the more encouraging signs of the evening was the play of the fourth line centered by Barclay Goodrow, flanked by Jimmy Vesey and Tyler Pitlick.
On this night, when Mika Zibanejad’s line was more focused on stopping Jack Hughes’ line, it was the three grinders that came up big with Vesey potting a gorgeous game-winning goal to complete the comeback with just 2:49 left to play.
“We had some strong moments,” Vesey said of his line. “First period was big for us tonight and we got rewarded. Coach had some faith in us late going against their top line.”
Vesey scored twice, Pitlick added an assist, and although Goodrow didn’t score he was instrumental to their forecheck. Each member of the fourth-line finished with a +2 rating. With Filip Chytil still out with an upper-body injury, the Rangers need to get scoring from their bottom six to stay on top of the Metro Division.
What is going on with these reviews?
Almost every fanbase believes that NHL officiating is not very good or the league is out to get them. To be clear, I don’t believe that’s the case with the Rangers. However, with the way the last two games have gone, it’s certainly hard not to question what has been some seriously puzzling video reviews.
I highlighted the similarity between Cuylle’s goal versus the Blue Jackets last Sunday and Hughes’ last night. The key difference being when the ref blew the whistle, and yet in each instance the call went against the Rangers.
If that wasn’t troubling enough, Ryan Lindgren was the recipient of another vicious high hit to the head. Against Columbus, Sean Kuraly hit him with an elbow, and last night Michael McLeod came in a little late and high with his shoulder. Both times, the call was a 5-minute major, but after a video review the plays were deemed clean.
While these types of calls seem to be happening more frequently against the Rangers lately, other teams are dealing with similarly confusing decisions.
The NHL needs to look into this process and see if they can improve it. And by the way, let’s not even get into the ridiculousness of what is or isn’t a “distinct kicking motion.”