New York Rangers Prove the Switch Can be Flipped During Game 1 Victory
Apr 12, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers forward Tanner Glass reacts with teammates after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period of game one of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers flip the switch and play their best game of the year against the Montreal Canadiens to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If you’ve watched the New York Rangers for the last several weeks, you’d know they have struggled in all aspects of their game. The regular season came to an end with the defense struggling, offensive production coming to a halt, the special teams stagnant, and the goaltending leaving much to be desired.

All that fear and uncertainty was erased after Wednesday night.

Hockey diehards across the country know the playoffs are another beast. The regular season no longer matters. The start of the playoffs is a clean slate. Nothing could be truer for the New York Rangers.

The New York Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 in the opening game of the Stanley cup playoffs. The Blueshirts’ performance Wednesday night was night and day compared to the last two months of meaningless hockey the Rangers have played. Major improvement in forechecking, physicality, defense and goaltending were observed on Wednesday night.

On Tuesday, Alain Vigneault was on the Mike Francesa show praising his team and saying if they play right, no team could stop them.

“It’s about getting a little bit of momentum. You get that momentum, you get a little bit of confidence, you get a little bit of swagger, and with the experience I feel that we have — in the last five years, this group has played the most playoff games — this experience we have will help out our younger players that are on our team. And if we can get that little momentum, that good start in that first game, then we’re going to be tough to handle.”

Boy, was AV right. After watching game one, Ranger fans should be excited about the new look playoff Blueshirts.

The Defense

AV decided to remain loyal to his workhorse D-men, selecting Kevin Klein as a healthy scratch while sticking with Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. The defense was markedly improved in last night’s game one victory. Girardi was physical on the puck, threw the body, and was remarkable blocking shots. Staal was fluid with the puck and found himself joining the rush and participating in offensive zone play. The defesive core as a whole did an excellent job of clearing out the crease to allow Henrik Lundqvist to see the put and do his job.

Henrik Lundqvist

 

Say what you want about Henrik Lundqvist and his roller coaster season but the guy knows how to battle. Put Hank in the limelight and he shines. Pressure? Lundqvist doesn’t know what pressure is. The best players in the history of hockey were able to elevate their game when called upon. Henrik Lundqvist is no different. His shutout last night was a franchise record 10th playoff shutout, proving his dominance in high stakes hockey.

It’s no coincidence that his best game this season is on the road, in the first game of the playoffs and against arguably the best goalie in the league, Carey Price. There is no one more competitive than Henrik Lundqvist. He does not want to be outplayed by another goalie, scored on in a game, or even beaten by his own teammates in practice. He’s still a world class competitor. If Henrik can sustain this play, the New York Rangers are going to be a tough out for any opponent.

Tanner Glass

If someone told you Tanner Glass would be in the New York Rangers Lineup come playoff time you might have questioned their sanity. If that same person then told you that Tanner Glass would score a game winning goal against Carey Price in the playoffs you’d wonder how much money you could make off the sucker. Seriously though, the odds on that had to be 1000 to 1.

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Many fans including myself questioned AV on adding Glass to the lineup over Pavel Buchnevich. For the time being we can all appreciate while he is an NHL head coach and sit on a couch watching the boys in blue. Glass added a level of physicality and jump the Rangers have been yearning for. Every shift Glass was throwing the body and forechecking hard. He was arguably the most noticeable Ranger on every shift. The Tanner Glass, Crosby-Esque backhanded goal that beat Carey Price over the glove was priceless.

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Don’t expect Glass to be the next big goal scorer for the Rangers but instead expect him to take care of the Montreal pests like Brendan Gallagher and Andrew Shaw.

New York Rangers fans should not get ahead of themselves. This is going to be a long series. Be proud that Henrik has seemed to find his game, the defense has learned to defend the crease, and Tanner Glass scored a game winning goal. Take one game at a time and bury the Montreal Canadiens. The Rangers road success is a major asset to them in the playoffs. The Blueshirts have a great opportunity to put the pressure on Montreal with a game two victory going back home to New York City.

Game two will be played in Montreal on Friday April 14th at 7 PM.

 NEXT: X-Factor for Rangers Lies in the Blueline 

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