Rangers take on the Philadelphia Flyers after a hectic few days.
The New York Rangers are the latest team to be affected by COVID-19. On Sunday and Monday, wingers Pavel Buchnevich and Phillip Di Giuseppe as well as defenseman Adam Fox were placed on COVID-19 protocol.
On Wednesday, the entire Rangers coaching staff (David Quinn, Greg Brown, Jacques Martin, and David Oliver) was placed on the protocol list.
Kris Knoblauch and Gord Murphy of the Hartford Wolf Pack as well as Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury would be behind the bench in Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The good news: Buchnevich and Fox would return to the lineup after missing a game.
Julien Gauthier and Tarmo Reunanen, who made his NHL debut on Monday, would sit. Alexander Georgiev, who has been going through a very rough stretch, got the start in net after a bad outing by Keith Kinkaid.
Would the Rangers be able to bounce back even without their coaches?
1st period: Welcome back, Foxy
Fox showed us all what the Rangers missed on Monday. A beautiful pass to Brendan Lemieux allowed the latter to score his second goal of the season and get the Rangers on the board first.
The dynamic duo of Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin were at it again. Panarin continues to prove that he’s one of the best in the game.
This was a fantastic period for the Rangers, who looked much better than they did on Monday. Fox made an impact both offensively and defensively and continues to be one of the best defensemen in hockey this season.
2nd period: Welcome back, Buch and Mika!!!
Wow. There aren’t many words to describe how the second period went for the Rangers. To say the Flyers were off their game would be an understatement, but credit must be given to the Rangers.
They were perfect in the second period and got production from key players. Like with Fox, it was nice to see Buchnevich back in there and getting it done. He scored the team’s first two goals of the period and went on to have an assist.
Jacob Trouba had a nice period, notching an assist and scoring his first goal of the season.
It was also nice to see the young guns get on the board: Filip Chytil scored the team’s seventh (!) of the period, and this goal was assisted by Libor Hájek and Alexis Lafrenière.
This is all great, but the man of the hour was Mika Zibanejad. Yes, that’s correct. Zibanejad looked nothing like the player that has been in the middle of a down season and struggling to score goals.
Zibanejad had three assists and scored three goals this period, his fifth career hat-trick. He tied Bryan Trottier for most points in a period in NHL history and became the first Ranger since Mark Messier in 1992 to record six points in a game.
Zibanejad’s hat trick was a natural one and a Mario Lemieux hatty, coming in the form of a short-handed goal, a power-play goal, and an even-strength goal.
Zibanejad looked incredibly confident and all of his goals and assists were vintage Zibanejad. If this is the game that “fixed” him and gets him going, the rest of the division really is in trouble.
Elite defending coupled with a very skilled offensive group led by Panarin and Zibanejad is no joke.
3rd period: Still in disbelief
The third period was pretty uneventful, but Rangers fans won’t be complaining. They spent almost all of the third on cloud nine and unable to believe what they had witnessed in that second period.
The Rangers looked nothing short of incredible in this game. After all, they wouldn’t have scored nine goals and kept a clean sheet if they were anything short of that.
This was the best game the Rangers played all season and will surely go down in team history.
They were perfect from the top line down to Georgiev, who needed this game desperately. If Quinn and the remainder of the coaches are out for multiple games, it will be interesting to see if the team can keep this up.
Key Moment: The return of the Fox
The key moment of the game was the first goal, of course, that led to a torrential downpour. This goal opened the floodgates and led to a historically great offensive showing.
It was the result of an amazing pass by Fox to Lemieux that did represent the first of nine, but it also represented how important Fox is to this team.
He’s their best defenseman, one of their best players, and one of the best in the league. He’s going to be instrumental in a potential late playoff run.
Player of the game: Mika Zibanejad
It only took a few months, but Zibanejad is the player of the game for the first time this season. He was truly fantastic and looked like his 2019-20 self out there.
Could this mark the beginning of a scary stretch of play from the top center? If so, everyone should be warned.
Zibanejad’s numbers: 18:22 TOI, 61.54 CF%, 3 G, 3 A, 0.51 iXG, 0.44 xGF, 0.25 xGA, 3.97 GF, 0 GA, 7.28 game score, 0.57 defensive rating, 2.17 offensive rating, and 4.48 individual rating.
Stats are courtesy of Hockey Stat Cards and Natural Stat Trick.