Depleted Rangers look to maintain winning streak.
The 2021 New York Rangers should have a documentary made about them.
Just as the drama seemed to fade away and the dust was settling, New York’s best player, Artemi Panarin, was accused of assaulting a woman in 2011 and took an indefinite leave of absence.
It is believed that this an intimidation tactic in response to his political views in recent events and head coach David Quinn said that he’s “very, very confident” that Panarin’s name would be cleared.
I just asked David Quinn if he's been in contact with Artemi Panarin, which he said he has, and when I asked about his confidence that Panarin will have his name cleared, "I’m very, very confident in that regard." #NYR
— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) February 24, 2021
Even so, this is yet another huge blow to an already-anemic lineup.
The Rangers had already lost Filip Chytil and Jacob Trouba to long-term injuries, and Kaapo Kakko would be missing his second straight game after being placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.
To make matters worse, K’Andre Miller was also added to the protocol list on Wednesday.
Coming into Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Rangers were on an impressive two-game winning streak. It would be hard to do with a depleted lineup, but they’d look to keep the streak alive.
Jonny Brodzinski was called up to join the team on the fourth line, Jack Johnson got the start, and Igor Shesterkin was in net.
1st period: Special Teams Galore
The Rangers got off to a tough start. They committed multiple turnovers 90 seconds in and Shesterkin was busy in net, but he looked sharp and held his own. Unfortunately, the Flyers scored the first goal of the game.
The first period was a period of special teams. The Rangers showed off their elite penalty kill early on and even looked good on the power play.
Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, both of whom had been struggling, connected for the Rangers’ first goal of the game- a sight for sore eyes.
The Rangers penalty kill had given up just one goal in their last nine games, but they allowed another to end the period.
The Rangers were down a goal heading into the second, but that was great. They looked terrible aside from the power play goal and wouldn’t have a chance of winning the game if they didn’t turn it around.
2nd period: Are Kreider and Zibanejad back…?!
Ah, more special teams nonsense. The Rangers found themselves short-handed, once again, early in the second, and gave up yet another goal. What is going on?!
As if that wasn’t bad enough, they committed another penalty seconds later that quickly became a five-on-three. It was a miracle that they didn’t concede a goal here.
They were given another chance on the power play to catch up, and they capitalized. Zibanejad and Kreider did it again, and seeing these two seemingly turn a corner surely came as a relief to fans.
The Flyers, however, were able to take a two-goal about five minutes later. The Rangers were given a late power play to end the period.
So far, this game was definitely odd and uncharacteristic for the Rangers: they looked great on the power play and bad on the penalty kill.
3rd period:Can we celebrate a Kreider hatty?
The Rangers needed guys like Kreider and Zibanejad to step up in the absence of Panarin and company, and that’s exactly what they did.
Kreider, especially, was outstanding and was rewarded with his third career hat-trick, his first since 2016. The Rangers were sloppy all game and committed two more penalties in the third.
A too-many-men penalty with eight seconds left (their second of the game) summed up the game for the Rangers. They were very disjointed and unorganized and played an overall sloppy game.
Penalties killed them and the result would’ve been different had they been able to stay out of the box. At least Kreider and Zibanejad looked good- that’s huge for the Rangers.
Key Moment: Kreider and Mika for goal #2
The key moment of the game was the Rangers’ second goal, for several reasons.
1. It was not only extremely relieving to see Kreider and Zibanejad get it done for their team like they used to, but to do it twice on back-to-back goals? That has to be a sign of great things to come.
2. They did it on the power play, which had been struggling. These two thriving, especially on the power play, is a game-changer for this team.
3. This goal also served as the second of Kreider’s huge hat-trick.
Player of the game: Chris Kreider
The man with the hatty is obviously the player of the game. Kreider stepped up in the biggest way and kept his team in the game.
In 19:36 TOI, Kreider had a whopping 1.00 iXG, 1 block, 1.07 xGF, 0.52 xGA, 1.01 GF, 1.93 GA, and 0.56 offensive rating.
Kreider’s been playing much better lately and if he can maintain this elite play, the Rangers’ top-six is going to look very different in a great way.
Stats are courtesy of Hockey Stat Cards.