Were the Rangers able to take advantage of a Devils team that hadn’t played since January?
The New York Rangers came into Tuesday’s game having lost three straight.
To add to an unfortunate long-term injury to Filip Chytil, the Rangers were without their best player, Artemi Panarin, for a second straight game, as well as the impressive rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller.
Veteran Brendan Smith would fill in for Miller alongside Jacob Trouba. Head coach David Quinn decided to move Colin Blackwell to the top line and Pavel Buchnevich to the bottom-six in hopes of getting the offense going.
The Rangers would be taking on the New Jersey Devils, who hadn’t played a game in over two weeks. Were the Rangers able to take advantage of the fact the Devils have been out of practice?
1st period: Vintage Rangers
The first period was very fast-paced and intense, but it definitely didn’t go well for the Rangers.
They were stuck in their own zone more often than not, and Igor Shesterkin was forced to come up with many big saves. He was easily the best player on the ice this period.
The Rangers did have some more scoring chances in the second half of the period, but MacKenzie Blackwood was great and let nothing get past him.
The cherry on top? A delay of game penalty by Kreider with under 50 seconds left.
2nd period: Signs of life
The Rangers began the period short-handed, but that came to their advantage. They forced several turnovers and didn’t let the Devils get anything done in their zone.
The penalty kill continues to be the best part of the Rangers’ game. This gave them a bit of momentum, and they were much better offensively.
Of course, the next big play of the game would be Devils goal on another power play. This marks the first power play goal the Rangers have given up in seven games.
It looks like Zibanejad, who committed the penalty, really is one of the more important players on that penalty kill.
The third line played the puck down the ice along the boards and Blackwell was able to tie the game for the Rangers.
Trouba had a rough sequence of plays soon after. He took a shot off the faceoff that he really should’ve scored and not long after, a Will Butcher shot deflected off of him into the net to put the Devils ahead.
It was later revealed that Trouba had sustained an upper-body injury and would not play the third.
The period did end on a high note for the Rangers, however. The KZB was reunited and got a much-needed goal on a nice Kreider assist (his first of the season) to Buchnevich, who shot the puck in for his first goal in some time.
The Rangers showed life this period and were able to tie the game in an important 20 minutes.
3rd period: Nothing short of a mess
Everything the Rangers did well in the second wouldn’t end up meaning much. They were unable to score in the third and ended up conceding three more goals.
Unlike most of their losses, the Rangers looked flat throughout, offensively and defensively. They’ve now lost four games in a row and are heading into a tough stretch in their schedule.
Key Moment: It’s the Shesty show
Shesterkin made several fantastic saves in the first period, and the key moment of the game had to be one of them. With under eight minutes left in the period, he made a crucial save with his left pad to keep it scoreless.
The Shesty show. pic.twitter.com/MF1NlNiQBF
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 17, 2021
This was a bad loss for the Rangers, but Shesterkin’s admirable performance in the first prevented it from being even worse.
Player of the game: Kaapo Kakko
Kaapo Kakko continues to show great improvement and be one of the Rangers’ best forwards. The numbers haven’t been in his favor- this game was no different- but he’s been doing it all on the ice.
He created many chances and was arguably the team’s best playmaker. His defense was quite noticeable as well, as has been the case all season.