Rangers coming off big win, but will have to take on Flyers with depleted squad.
The New York Rangers are coming off arguably their best game of the season: an impressive shutout against a dangerous Boston Bruins team on Saturday. They had been struggling, but looked like a completely different team against Boston.
They did almost everything right and played well enough to get people talking about a potential playoff run. However, the Rangers would have to continue their tough stretch of schedule while dealing with some adversity.
On Sunday night, winger Phillip Di Giuseppe was placed on COVID-19 protocol. On Monday, it was announced that right winger Pavel Buchnevich and defenseman Adam Fox would join him.
These three players, particularly Buchnevich and Fox (one of the team’s best forwards and the team’s best defenseman, respectively), are incredibly important.
The Rangers would have a challenging task of taking on the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday without them.
The Rangers were lucky, however, that the Flyers have been going through a rough stretch. The fact that they wouldn’t be taking on a hot team with momentum is crucial for them.
Many lineup changes obviously had to be made to address the absences of several players. Kaapo Kakko took Buchnevich’s spot as the top line right winger.
Julien Gauthier returned to the lineup as the third line right winger. Brett Howden also returned to the lineup, as the fourth line right winger, after being scratched for the first time in his career.
The defense is where things got interesting. Prior to the game, prospect Tarmo Reunanen was called up, and it was revealed that he’d make his NHL debut in this game.
Reunanen is 23 years old and was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL draft. The left-handed defenseman was invited to training camp, but didn’t make the team.
He began the season with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL and scored two goals and five points in eight games before getting the call. The Finnish would slot in alongside Brendan Smith.
Libor Hájek took over as Ryan Lindgren’s linemate in Fox’s stead and Keith Kinkaid got the start in net.
1st period: Team looks depleted
The first period got better for the Rangers as it progressed, but it didn’t go well overall. Their transition game was weak and they faced trouble maintaining control in the neutral zone.
The absence of Buchnevich and Fox, Fox especially, was evident this period. 2-0 isn’t impossible to come back from, but they’d have to go into the second looking like a completely different team if they hoped to have a chance.
2nd period: Welcome to the show, Tarmo!
The second period was all Artemi Panarin. The Rangers scored three goals this period, none of which would’ve happened without Panarin.
In his NHL debut, Reunanen notched an assist on Panarin’s goal with a great pass that Panarin sniped past Carter Hart. Reunanen played with confidence this game and deserved this point.
Panarin was incredible this period, but the team played quite well, as a whole. The fact that they were heading into the third tied after being down 2-1 20 minutes in with a depleted squad and against a better team is impressive.
3rd period: A point is surprisingly good
The Rangers took the lead once again with a great goal by the fourth line involving guys who’ve been struggling to produce and needed to step up.
Unfortunately the penalty killing, which has been the Rangers’ biggest strength this season, wasn’t at its best tonight. The Rangers conceded a power play goal in the second and would concede one more in the third.
Gauthier scored a beautiful back-handed goal in the second period and has been playing impressive hockey, but his lack of discipline continues to be an issue.
He committed three penalties in this game, including a double-minor, and was subsequently benched. Had it not been for his recklessness, the outcome in regulation could’ve been very different.
Nonetheless, the fact that the Rangers were able to take the Flyers to overtime without some of their best players is impressive and they’d look to go home with two points instead of just one.
Overtime: The duality of Bread
The Rangers lost this game in heartbreaking fashion. They almost completely dominated in overtime, but some sloppy play would bring about their demise.
A bad pass from Kinkaid and a bad play on the pass by Panarin led to a Flyers goal that sent everyone home. It was hard to watch the guy who carried the team on his back this game be a big reason why they lost.
This goal also highlighted the terrible game that Kinkaid played. He should’ve had most of Philadelphia’s goals and was so bad that David Quinn might absolutely opt to go with Alexandar Georgiev on Thursday if Igor Shesterkin still isn’t ready.
This was a tough loss and several players didn’t look as good as they should have.
However, for one of the first times all season, the Rangers didn’t falter in the face of adversity and came back to get a point out of a game that looked hopeless since before it began.
Here’s to hoping it’s a sign of good things to come, especially once key players come back.
Key Moment: Goal #1 of the comeback
The key moment of the game was the first goal the Rangers scored. Panarin scored a beauty here and this play showed that the Rangers came into the second period with a completely different game plan and mindset.
It allowed them to build momentum that they never really lost and fueled Panarin to carry his team throughout the remainder of the game.
Reunanen also recorded his first NHL point on this goal. The rookie played a strong game in his debut and looked impressive and confident.
The Rangers might just be in good hands if Fox’s injury will keep him out long-term and if the rookie is good enough, he could finish out the season with the Blueshirts.
Player of the game: Artemi Panarin
Panarin did make a mistake that cost his team the game, but overtime wouldn’t have even happened without him. The magic he made in the second period is evidence of how great of a player he is, as a scorer and play-maker.
It’s difficult to imagine how this team got by without him for nine games. This game, especially the second period, showed Panarin’s value to the team and why he’s one of the best in the entire league.
His numbers: 21:19 TOI, 1 G, 2 A, 65.71 CF%, 0.12 iXG, 0.35 xGF, 0.49 xGA, 2.82 GF, 0 GA,0.29 defensive rating, 1.32 offensive rating, and 2.07 individual rating.
Stats are courtesy of Hockey Stat Cards and Natural Stat Trick.