How did the Blueshirts fare against one of the best teams in the league without their best player?
The New York Rangers played well in their first game against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday and were even able to earn a well-deserved point, but it came at a cost.
The Rangers’ best player, Artemi Panarin, suffered a lower-body injury in the third period, and returned once for a brief appearance on a power play.
It was announced after practice on Friday that Panarin is day-to-day and would not be in the lineup for the Rangers’ second game against the Bruins.
This was a tough, tough loss, and more would be asked of guys like Mika Zibanejad, who’s in a dreadful scoring slump. There was some good news, however.
Rookie Alexis Lafrenière and sophomore Kaapo Kakko would join Ryan Strome on the second line, giving the two youngsters a great opportunity.
Additionally, Colin Blackwell would be returning to the lineup after missing the past several games due to injury. Blackwell had been on a roll before going down, and would look to get right back into it. Igor Shesterkin was called upon to start in net.
1st period: The kids were alright
The first period of this game was very exciting, and both teams were playing intense, fast-paced hockey. We were intrigued by the new, young second line, and for good reason. Both Lafrenière and Kakko were involved in some great plays.
Additionally, Julien Gauthier appears to have grown more confident since scoring his first career goal on Wednesday. Another good takeaway: Zibanejad continues to look better and better.
The Rangers were given two chances on the power play in the first, and both were unfortunate. They’ve been struggling quite a bit on the power play, and that’s something they need to work on.
2nd period: Nothin’ like an Original 6 matchup
The Bruins completely dominated here and were able to get a goal out of it, but the highlight of the period was the high tension and all the fighting.
Almost everyone, from Pavel Buchnevich down to Shesterkin, got into it with their opponents. The game was getting really, really good.
3rd period: No shots, no goals
The Rangers obviously played the third with their backs against the wall, but didn’t generate nearly enough offensive pressure to score. They had just five shots on goal this period.
Again, the power play continues to be a problem. The Rangers had a multitude of chances to tie up the game and even take the lead with the amount of man-advantages they had, but they couldn’t get anything done.
The Bruins do have one of the best penalty kills in the league, but the Rangers have been struggling on the power play for some time now.
This heat map from Natural Stat Trick shows just how bad the Rangers were on the power play:
The Rangers played with energy and were quite gritty this game, but their inability to score cost them. They’ve now been shut out two times in three games.
Key Moment: Fight, Buch, fight!
Buchnevich, who is a big guy but isn’t known for fighting, got into it with Jeremy Lauzon in the wild second period.
Jeremy Lauzon and Pavel Buchnevich drop the gloves. pic.twitter.com/oJHBq8SCUx
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 13, 2021
Buchnevich was caught chirping the Bruins, particularly Brad Marchand, on Wednesday, and it looked like he’d had enough. He didn’t win the fight and it was a surprise to see him in that position in the first place, but it was exciting.
This fight also embodied all the tension, agitation, and aggression that characterized this game.
Player of the game: Igor Shesterkin
This might come as a surprise because he made a big mistake on the only goal of the game but, for the first time this season, Shesterkin was the Rangers’ best player.
He came up with some great saves in big moments and was a reason why the Bruins couldn’t score more than a goal. He wasn’t very busy tonight, making 19 saves on 20 shots, but did make five high-danger saves on six high-danger shots.
The fact that his teammates, particularly the forwards, didn’t play particularly well made Shesterkin earning this honor easier, but he still did a solid job in net.
After a rough start to the season, Shesterkin is settling in and proving that he must be the team’s number one goaltender moving forward.