Rick Nash lifts Rangers in opener, but it’s not all roses for New York

Rick Nash scores in STL 10.9.14 (Photo: Scott Rovak - Getty Images)

Rick Nash scores in STL 10.9.14 (Photo: Scott Rovak – Getty Images)

Three goals. That is all Rick Nash could muster in a playoff run that saw the Rangers come up short in the Stanley Cup Final. Last night, Rick Nash scored more than half that in one game.

Rangers 3 – Blues 2

The Blueshirts opened up the 1st period with their jet packs fully fueled. From the drop of the puck, they were flying out there. NY outshout the Blues 16-8 and grabbed a 1-0 lead off a beautiful Chris Kreider pass to Rick Nash. The big man, without the pressure of the playoffs, snapped it past Elliot for the goal.

The Blues went into the locker room and collected themselves, as a see-saw battle would ensue for the rest of the game. When it was over, the shots would be tied up at 25 and the final score would reflect the evenness of the contest.

Early in the third period, the Rangers turned over the puck in the offensive zone and the Blues turned it quickly up ice. A fortuitous bounce and John Moore just a step behind, led to a tie game off a rebound goal by Jaden Schwartz.

That’s when the big boys took over.

NYR 3 - STL 2, 10/9/14 (ESPN)

NYR 3 – STL 2, 10/9/14 (ESPN)

 

Chris Kreider, who looked like he was shot out of cannon all night was sent up ice on a breakaway. It was off a tremendous hustle play by Marc Staal while laying on the ice. The big #18 cleared the puck to the boards which was picked up by MSL and moved up to Nash, who hit Kreider in stride. Unlike in the Final, CK20 buried this breakaway for the 2-1 lead.

 

 

Of course, the Blues would not go quietly as the prize of this past summer’s UFA pool, Paul Stastny tied it up (off his body). Still, the Rangers looked like Eastern Conference champs and played with poise.

Playoff goat, opening night hero – Rick Nash scored off a beautiful feed in front from Marty St. Louis with just 1:50 left to play. In the closing moments, Lundqvist continued to play big in goal and the Rangers unlike last year in St. Louis came out on top 3-2.

Rick Nash has momentarily pushed back the bad memories of the post-season. Unbeknownst to him, Nash has had tremendous success versus the Blues with 23 goals in 51 career games.

“It seems like it is one of the toughest places to play,” Nash said afterwards. “Being in Columbus so long, it was such a tough building to come into and have success. Too bad we don’t play them more.”

The Bad News

Dan Boyle injured in STL 10.9.14 (USAT)

Dan Boyle injured in STL 10.9.14 (USAT)

Early in the 3rd period, Dan Boyle blocked a shot from the stick of Jori Lehtera’s and was seen playing one-handed for the rest of his shift. Boyle looked unhappy on the bench, probably in disbelief that this would happen in his first game. He would leave for the trainer’s room and didn’t return.

After the game, Alain Vigneault announced Boyle broke his right arm and will be out 4-6 weeks. Here’s out story on the injury.

Matt Hunwick will play Saturday, but we bet Conor Allen gets the call and Boyle’s spot until Dan returns.

Earlier in the game the Rangers had another scare as Jesper Fast went down head first and took a slap shot about 5 feet out on his arm.

Fast taped it up and returned to action, but it will be interesting to see how it feels today. It is likely we will see either Kevin Hayes or Ryan Malone on Saturday.

Trouble in the Circles

Thank the hockey gods for Dominic Moore who won 12 of 16 draws for 75%. Derick Brassard won 8 of 16 for 50% but that’s where it goes south.

MSL only won 4 of 11 for 36% and JT Miller lost all 8 he took. I repeat, all 8! JT Miller needs to do some serious face-off work in practice if he hopes to take any meaningful draws in the future.

Raging Rangers

1. Rick Nash – that was one a heck of a performance last night. 2G, 1A, +2, 4 SOG. The line combined for 7 points (MSL 2A and Kreider 1G – 1A).

2. Henrik Lundqvist – rock solid start. Remember, the King has a rep for starting slow (by King standards). To be clear, most goalies would kill for even his slow starts.

3. Chris Kreider – he showed off his passing skills on Nash’s first and his speed and shot on his tally. CK20 was a beast and if he can keep that level of consistency for most of the season, he will shatter the 30 goal mark.

Reeling Rangers

1. JT Miller – 0-8 in the face-off circle. You simply can’t do that often if you want to play center in the NHL. However, he was strong and fast with and without the puck last night.

2. Brassard, Hagelin, Zuccarello line – They mustered 2 shots on goal as a line. I know Brassard lobbied for Hagelin on his left, but I didn’t see any chemistry there. I give them 1 more period before AV makes a switch. Duclair and Hags swap lines? We should not Zucc got into a fight with TJ Oshie, he shouldn’t do that anymore but it was fun to see.

3. John Moore – He fell asleep a bit on Schwartz’s goal and got rocked by Ryan Reaves later in the game. Heads up Johnny boy!

Duclair Watch

Duclair took 17 shifts for 11:12 total ice. He spent 2:08 on the PP and was solid all night. He was fast and hard on the puck but didn’t register a shot. A solid 1st NHL game, but he will need to do more going forward.

Scorecard: B-

Up Next: 

SAT OCT 11, 2014 RANGERS  @ BLUE JACKETS 7:00 PM MSG

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore