The New York Rangers earned their first victory in over a week to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. What do they need to do to keep the momentum going?
New York Rangers: (19-9-4, 42 points, 2nd in NHL Metropolitan Division)
Minnesota Wild: (16-7-6, 38 points, 3rd in NHL Central Division)
Today, 8:00 PM on MSG, FS-N, FS-WI
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN
By Chris Wengert
The New York Rangers finally clawed their way out of a three game losing streak by inflicting some revenge on the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday night.
While there is still plenty of room for improvement, the win was just what the Rangers needed after suffering three heartbreaking defeats last week.
And while the losses to Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary were hard for all of us to stomach, the Rangers showed some surprising resiliency on the road trip.
The comebacks that the Blueshirts made in Edmonton and Calgary demonstrated to all of us that there still is some magic deep within this team. The magic may still be in it’s infancy stages, but it’s there.
We’ve seen this magic before.
Let’s rewind to October of 2014 when the Rangers were losing to the Minnesota Wild 3-0 going into the third period. Madison Square Garden was as quiet as a library, and fans were chalking the game up to a loss.
The Rangers ended up winning that game 5-4, with this goal by former Ranger Anthony Duclair.
Moments like this are encouraging, and show us fans that your team can handle adversity. Perhaps it is games like this one that gave the Rangers confidence facing elimination three times against the Washington Capitals in last year’s playoffs.
Fast forward to this year and the Rangers have been facing some serious adversity, but there is plenty for Ranger fans and players alike to be optimistic about right now.
AV: Stepan, Klein won’t play tomorrow, a chance Friday
— Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) December 16, 2015
It makes sense that Dan Girardi was nursing an injury. While his play has been questionable at times throughout his career, it has taken a nosedive the past couple of weeks. While an injury is never good news, it could explain some of Girardi’s recent play:
AV: Girardi not making trip. Day to day. Kreider OK.
— Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) December 16, 2015
The Girardi-injury means that fan favorite Brady Skjei will get another start.
Skjei had a solid game for his first NHL start. His one blaring mistake should be forgotten, as it was a simple mishandle of the puck and not a mental error that gave up a goal:
I’ve always felt that the learning curve for defensemen is larger than for forwards, with the level of physicality hindering young players.
Fans should temper their expectations for the young Skjei, who will more than likely juggle between the Rangers and Wolfpack throughout the year.
Speaking of developing defensemen, how about Dylan McIlrath? What a shot:
McIlrath’s first NHL goal was a rocket that sailed just above the ice to find the back of the net. If McIlrath continues to improve his game, I’m sure the Rangers would love to have that shot on the power play.
Seriously, if Dan Girardi can earn some time on the PP, why not McIlrath?
As a side note, I do think the Rangers miss former Rangers Carl Hagelin and Martin St. Louis. No, Hagelin was never lighting the lamp on a regular basis, but his 17 goals from last year are nothing to scoff at.
Hags presence is also sorely missed on the fore check as his speed would pressure the opponents into making bad plays. This jump has been missing from the Rangers offensive play lately.
Look, we all know that St. Louis had an awful playoff performance last year.
But similar to Hagelin, St. Louis did tally 21 regular season goals last year and with Chris Kreider‘s production going bone dry as of late, the Rangers are going to need Oscar Lindberg to start producing again.
However I believe St. Louis’ leadership is what is lacking from the Rangers.
While we all love Ryan McDonagh, there are times when I question his captaincy. Not every captain needs to be a “fire and brimstone” leader, but I do wonder what he is like in the Rangers locker room.
The Rangers will battle the Minnesota Wild tonight as they embark on another road trip where they will play back-to-back games.
The Wild have been a streaky team this year, but have won five of their last seven games.
Let’s hope the Rangers can ride the momentum from Tuesday, because every winning streak starts with one.
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