New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

The New York Rangers showed resiliency after falling behind 2-0 to the Minnesota Wild. The Blueshirts 4-2 comeback was led by Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller.

By Chris Wengert

The New York Rangers patience and persistence finally paid off last night.

Dozens of fans had to be talked off of the ledge after the Blueshirts fell behind 2-0 in the first period to the Minnesota Wild.

Marc Staal gave fans a reason to be upset too, as he had one of his worst games all year on Thursday night. Staal hasn’t exactly had a stellar year either, so at least he is being consistent?

The veteran defesneman badly mishandled the puck at the blue line while attempting to shoot, which gave Ryan Carter a breakaway and Minnesota a 1-0 lead.

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Rather than just dumping the puck deep into the offensive zone, Staal tried to take a shot, which deflected off of Carter’s shin pad.

The rest is history.

Remember when Henrik Lundqvist used to be reliable on breakaways?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming Hank for that goal, but it would be nice to see him come up with a save on one of those, but I digress…

Marc Staal wasn’t finished with that one mistake either, as he took a bad penalty five minutes later that resulted in another Wild goal. Woof.

When the Rangers were successful on the penalty kill last year, they were moving quickly as one unit. All four of the players were shifting, moving their sticks to clog passing lanes, and challenging the puck carriers.

What we are seeing now are Rangers players who are reacting to the power play units, rather than proactively working as one unit.

The Blueshirts are also allowing the opponents to have free reign of the slot, which is a huge problem when the penalty killers are not covering the shooting/passing lanes.

But just when most fans were about to begin playing armchair General Manager, Ryan McDonagh injected some much needed life into his team.

I criticized the captain pretty heavily a while back for not leading by example on the ice. If McDonagh can continue to produce when his team needs it most, I may have to retract my previous statement.

What a second effort by Mac Truck to put the Rangers within one goal of the Wild.

J.T. Miller has been an absolute beast as of late.

If players like Chris Kreider (who looks like he may be finding his game) and Kevin Hayes (still clueless) start to live up to their expectations, J.T. Miller could be the “X-factor” that the Rangers need in the playoffs.

However if Miller doesn’t see any run support from these other players his contributions are almost negated, as they would just be filling the Kreider/Hayes void.

J.T. Miller wasn’t finished with just the goal, because his beautiful feed to Derick Brassard would eventually give the Rangers the go-ahead goal, completing the comeback.

Jesper Fast‘s hustle on the play cannot be overlooked either. Some fans have started to compare Fast to former Ranger Carl Hagelin, which is an interesting comparison if you think about it.

Both players are fast (no pun) and contribute to the fore check, but don’t have the greatest hands.

Side note. Kevin Klein was apparently practicing in a normal, full-contact jersey yesterday:


And he was also shooting…with a broken thumb?

Here’s the thing: Why would the Rangers want Kevin Klein at 60-75%?

We have seen an unhealthy Kevin Klein before after he returned from his arm injury last year in the playoffs, and it wasn’t pretty.

It makes more sense to let him heal, rather than have him playing with a broken thumb. 

If the Rangers brass really do put Klein back into the lineup, I think it shows their concern about this team’s playoff chances.

The good news is that the New York Rangers showed some serious resiliency against the Minnesota Wild last night. Now they need to keep it rolling and string some wins together.

NEXT: Doug Caliendo: The Stuff Heroes Are Made Of

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