The New York Rangers win on Tuesday night reconfirmed David Quinn has this rebuilding team moving in the right direction.
The New York Rangers 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers was far from a must win. Yet with the team only recording two wins in the first eight games of the season, the pressure was on to get a win before the Blueshirts head out on a four-game west coast trip beginning Thursday night.
Five goals for this team is a huge scoring output. The team tied a season-high in goals scored — they also scored five goals in a loss to Carolina two weeks ago. The Rangers had two power-play goals, one short-handed goal, along with two even-strength goals and this supplied the offense needed to get the W. What was even more satisfying was how the team actually scored some of these goals. An even balance of special teams and even strength goals that the coaching staff has been trying to focus throughout the preseason finally came through.
Mika Zibanejad who has been inconsistent in the scoring area and Mats Zuccarello who had yet to score a goal this season entered the Panthers game looking to get their offense producing points. Head coach David Quinn, constantly looking for the right chemistry among his forwards, decided to put Zucc on the top line with Chris Kreider and Zibanejad. The move paid off as the trio combined for seven points including four goals.
Quinn has been trying to get the team to play a hard in your face style of hockey and for at least one night that’s what he got from the entire lineup. Relentless puck pursuit, players screening the Panthers goalie at every opportunity, the Rangers made Florida pay whenever at every chance they had.
The changes that lead to a win
Since training camp, David Quinn has been preaching how wants the centers to come all the way back in the defensive end to help the defenseman out. Tuesday night this was very evident especially with the play of Zibanejad and rookie Brett Howden.
Frequently the two helped get possession of the puck and with a quick transition, the Rangers were able to break out of their own end.
The power play and penalty killing were productive. The penalty killing was 1-for-4 and the team scored two PP goals in six chances with the man advantage. Quinn felt special teams play gave the team a much-needed lift,
“The penalty kill gave us some energy, that shorthanded goal gave us a lift and I thought we got better as the game went on,” Quinn said via The Rangers official Twitter account.
“The penalty kill gave us some energy, that shorthanded goal gave us a lift and I thought we got better as the game went on.” – #NYR Coach Quinn pic.twitter.com/6QqxdrUZPO
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) October 24, 2018
The momentum created by successful power plays and penalty kills are huge for this young team. It was proven Tuesday night after Zibanejad scored short handed. A different team emerged leading to great results.
The chemistry is starting to come together. The Jimmy Vesey-Brett Howden-Pavel Buchnevich line played together for the second consecutive game, showing fine passing skills, getting scoring opportunities and displaying the relentless play the staff wants from every line. Cody McLeod-Vladislav Namestnikov-Ryan Spooner formed a battle-tested unit that creates a needed spark to this lineup. Filip Chytil-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast completed the four-line unit.
It was only one game against a lower tier team in Florida, but the building has begun. The Rangers now have something that they have lacked all season up to this point: confidence. The Blueshirts know they can play well in all three zones on the ice, with a rookie head coach that can see the fruits of his hard work come together. This win could be the building block for many to follow.
The Rangers face the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night at the United Center. The team looks to bring what they learned Tuesday night to play a tougher opponent with more scoring talent. The testing never ends.