Potentially reinvigorated Rangers look to begin push for playoffs.
The New York Rangers have begun to play much better hockey just in time to make a push for the playoffs.
On Monday night, they’d be taking on the worst team in the league, the Buffalo Sabres, who are on a 14-game losing streak. This is a game they need to win in order to be taken seriously moving forward.
On Monday, it was announced that Brett Howden would be joining Phillip Di Giuseppe as well as the entire coaching staff on the COVID-19 protocol list, meaning Julien Gauthier would return to the lineup after missing three straight games.
Gauthier would serve as the fourth line right winger, and that would be the only change to the lineup.
Star defenseman Adam Fox would be playing in his 100th career game.
1st period: Shoot more!
The Rangers were more offensively dominant in the first than the Sabres, but didn’t shoot nearly enough. The puck movement and passing were great, but the Rangers weren’t able to score because they weren’t taking shots.
That’s something that would have to change in the final 40.
2nd period: Goals, goals, goals
The Sabres got on the board first, but the Rangers came out of the second with the lead after scoring three straight.
Kaapo Kakko kicked things off by scoring his first goal in 19 games, serving as confirmation that he probably should feature as the second line right winger as opposed to Colin Blackwell.
The next goal was scored by Chris Kreider in front of the net on the power play. *Chef’s kiss*
The third goal of the period was scored by Fox, who’s become too good to describe. Both he and Artemi Panarin deserve praise for their performances in the second, each recording two points in the period.
3rd period: Starting a winning streak
The third period got off to a scary start for the Rangers, who allowed the Sabres to come back from 3-1 to tie the game. The fact that special teams came through in this game was huge.
The Rangers were given an opportunity on the man-advantage in the third and scored another goal off the stick of Kreider. Fox had yet another assist on this goal.
Kakko sealed the deal at the end of the period with an empty-net goal. A two-goal game for the kid couldn’t have come at a better time. Panarin notched another assist on this goal.
The Rangers have started another winning streak and leave this game just 3 points out of a playoff spot. Anything can happen in the NHL…
Key Moment: Kreider on the PP part 1
The key moment of the game was Kreider’s first power play goal. This goal gave the Rangers their first lead of the game-they wouldn’t fall behind again after- and got the team going. They went on to score three more goals, including another power play.
The Rangers had an elite power play last season, but that hasn’t been the case in 2021. If they do hope to get going in time for the playoffs, they’re going to have to become much more productive on the man-advantage immediately.
Arguably the best net-front presence in the league, Kreider scored this goal to maintain his great offensive play lately, especially on the power play.
He’s been one of the best in the league in that regard, and it’s good to see him using his strengths to benefit the team. His goal was assisted by Panarin and Fox, who are also key parts of the team’s PP1 unit.
Player of the game: Adam Fox
The Rangers don’t win this game without their best defenseman and second-best player. Fox was incredible defensively and offensively and is emerging as one of the best blueliners in the game.
The coaching staff as well as his teammates will continue to lean on him as crunch time approaches.
Fox’s numbers: 24:13 TOI, 1 G, 2 A, 76.6 CF%, 0.3 ixG, 2 blk, 1.11 xGF, 0.26 xGA, 0.99 GF, 0 GA, 4.38 Game Score, 1.53 defensive rating, 0.74 offensive rating, and 2.12 individual rating.
Stats are courtesy of Hockey Stat Cards and Natural Stat Trick.