Devils once again streaking after a 5-3 win in 2022-23’s first Battle of the Hudson

This Devils team sure does know a thing or two about winning streaks, doesn’t it? After the end of a thirteen-game heater (thanks to Jack Hughes’ quote it’ll be a while before I stop thinking about a Devils winning streak as a heater) last Wednesday, the Devils merely responded after Thanksgiving with another three straight wins in four nights – qualifying it as a winning streak according to the Gospel of Lou Brown – including a back-and-forth game with the Rangers tonight at the Garden that lived up to the billing and then some. Despite early adversity falling behind 2-0 barely three minutes into the game, and late adversity with a parade to the penalty box making things tenser than they needed to be, the Devils once again did enough to win. Everything still feels so surreal, I’m pinching myself…this team is really 19-4, in first place IN THE ENTIRE NHL?!

Ironically when there hasn’t been much to say about the losing the previous few years because of how constant it is, I don’t really feel the need to recap every game now that the winning is becoming just as constant. Truth be told, I had a tougher time getting over the adrenaline rush of last week than the team itself did. To their credit, they’ve kept up their not too high and not too low mindset – winning 3-1 in Buffalo on Friday behind Akira Schmid (33 saves, now 4-0 overall). Then they stuck it to one of their biggest nemesis the last few years at the Rock on Saturday, beating the Caps 5-1 with Vitek Vanecek coming up aces in his first game against his former team, yet ‘somehow’ not getting the first star in a game where he made 37 stops.

In this case, the somehow was Hughes’ first NHL hat trick earning him the first star on Saturday. If beating a Caps team who hadn’t lost a regulation game to the Devils since February 2020 (a.k.a before most of us knew what COVID was) was satisfying to the organization, they sure didn’t rest on their laurels today. Of course, it’s pretty well impossible to take any game with the Rangers for granted. Especially since this had all the makings of a rivalry game where the slumping team uses the energy to get out of its malaise against a streaking team. Early on, it looked to be going exactly that way when Artemi Panarin got the fans in blue rocking with a goal off a two-on-one just eighty seconds in, giving the Rangers the lead. Then less than two minutes later came a rare mistake by Vanecek this season, fumbling a shot in the crease that led to a Mika Zibanejad rebound goal at 3:01, doubling the Blueshirt edge.

Momentum started to turn with a beaut of a goal from Tomas Tatar at 7:33, beating Igor Shesterkin by roofing a high backhand short-side. Probably a surprisingly weak goal from the reigning Vezina winner on the one hand, but a heck of a shot on the other. You decide:

Less than six minutes later, the game was tied after Yegor Sharangovich was johnny on the spot, putting away a juicy turnover in front of the Ranger net to tie the game and give Sharangovich his seventh goal of the season. At first I thought it was a nice pass by Jesper Boqvist out of the corner, but the goal was officially unassisted so clearly it was off a turnover. Early in the second period the white-hot Devils maintained their momentum and took the lead off a lovely skill play, with a home run pass from Dawson Mercer finding Hughes for a breakaway, and he scored his twelfth goal of the season (five of them in this recent three-game winning streak).

Thankfully the Devils’ scoring binge wasn’t quite over yet, as a Miles Wood shot deflected off Michael McLeod in front for the team’s fourth goal, at 9:40 of the second period. Despite failing to really put the final hammer down on a power play late in the second, things still looked good at that point. Our power play did everything but score…but a too many men on the ice penalty late in the period proved a harbinger for what was to come. Though the Devils killed off that power play early in the third, there were three more to come when Mercer, Ryan Graves and Tatar took penalties in short order (all within less than seven minutes). Mercer’s penalty was the most egregious since it came while the Devils were on the power play, in the offensive zone but Tatar’s is the one that proved costlier when Vincent Trocheck finally cashed in for the Rangers, inevitably pulling them to within one and leading to a tense finish. Vanecek shut the door from there however, and an empty-netter from Sharangovich finally sealed the deal at a surprisingly divided Garden fan-wise.

I can’t rightly say just how pronounced the Devil fan presence was compared to when I was there for us clinching a first round sweep in 2006, but however big the contingent was, it came through on TV. To the point where there were actually noticeable Igor serenades in the second period

As unbelievable as the team’s play has been, the fan support the last week has been just about as eye-opening. I swear, even when the team was consistently good I’ve never seen THIS kind of excitement level from the fanbase – at least not pre-April. To sell out three straight November games (two of them weekday against Canadian teams), then to invade the Garden as if it was Game 4 of the 2006 first round in the span of eight days?! It shows both how much this fanbase is starved for a winner, and perhaps how much the fanbase has grown in spite of the losing the previous several years.

It tempts you to look ahead over what’s to come, but there’s plenty of time to enjoy the ride before the spring angst begins.

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Telling quote from Gallant following third period debacle leaves more questions than answers for fragile Rangers

The Rangers lost a game today to the Oilers 4-3 at MSG. It’s the way they lost that drew plenty of boos from the capacity crowd and criticism ln social media circles.

Blowing a three-goal lead after two periods on home ice is inexcusable. The fashion in which they did was mind-numbing. Even in a game they got screwed out of a goal (Braden Schneider goal overturned on a very tacky incidental contact on Ryan Carpenter via a coach’s challenge) and lost Ryan Lindgren to a possible concussion, there’s no way they should’ve lost this game.

But here we are. After somehow losing to the basement dwelling Ducks in a game that had several goalposts and John Gibson having his one huge outing while Jaroslav Halak stunk, they found a new way to lose a game.

Despite a better showing from Artemi Panarin, who also had a power play goal wiped out by an offsides challenge (apparently the Oilers’ coaching staff paid attention) along with a host of other key players, it wasn’t enough to prevent a third period collapse on home ice.

An early goal from Alexis Lafreniere off an Adam Fox set up was a good way to start the afternoon. It ended an 11-game drought. The 21-year old left wing is one of those young players who must find more consistency.

With Gerard Gallant continuing to keep the First Round Pick Line together, they should be able to contribute more offense. Especially if he’s going to increase their shifts at even strength. Hopefully, that’ll bode well for Lafreniere, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko.

When they got consecutive five-on-five goals from Chris Kreider and the suddenly emerging Julien Gauthier late in a second period where Igor Shesterkin made some big saves, it looked like they’d win comfortably. However, nothing comes easy for the ’22-23 New York Rangers.

Having already blown a two-goal lead to the Islanders in an ugly regulation loss at The Garden, this one was even worse. While it is the Oilers, they got support from other players not named Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. They don’t win often when their dynamic duo doesn’t dominate.

Instead of finishing the game off, the more passive Blueshirts let the Oilers hang around. Evan Bouchard scored twice over a 2:52 span to swing the momentum. The first one was a good high shot with a player screening Shesterkin in front. He never saw it.

It came just after a K’Andre Miller penalty expired. His second came due to a bad turnover from Libor Hajek. He lost a battle behind the net which allowed the Oilers to pull within one.

Before you could look, Jacob Trouba had another sloppy turnover that led to rookie Dylan Holloway scoring his first NHL goal. A Rangers tradition. With Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow changing in front of the bench, a rushed Trouba pass missed both. Instead, Ryan McLeod made a lead pass for Holloway, who moved around Trouba to beat Shesterkin short side to suddenly tie the score with 9:39 remaining.

It was the only goal Shesterkin should’ve had. However, it’s hard to fault him. He bailed their asses out in the second with 15 saves when the Oilers most dangerous stars created opportunities. Of course, he’d want that tying goal back. It wasn’t a good period for the Rangers’ franchise goalie. But he was blameless on three of the four goals Edmonton scored on just eight shots.

This was a team effort. After Lindgren left the game following an awkward collision with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins that likely sent him into concussion protocol, they fell apart. Down to five defensemen, that forced Gallant to rework his pairings. It still isn’t a good enough excuse to lose a game you once had a three-goal lead in.

The coach came under fire for not calling a timeout after Holloway tied it. His team could’ve used a breather to regroup. Perhaps even halted the Oilers’ momentum. Not Turk.

Instead, he watched as a Lafreniere minor penalty resulted in Draisaitl finishing off a nice passing play from Nugent-Hopkins and McDavid to give Edmonton the lead with 2:02 left in regulation. A play where Kreider was late covering Draisaitl on an easy backdoor go-ahead goal.

Of course, they didn’t tie it. That’s who they are right now. A fragile team that lacks confidence. Something Mika Zibanejad alluded to in a postgame interview in the locker room. He was one of a few players who felt they sat back too much. It cost them. While the guys on the ice are accountable, what about the coach? He didn’t take any responsibility.

So, let’s get this straight. He can’t explain how his team blew a three-goal lead when they had the last change in front of a sellout crowd. He has no answers. Only to put it all on the players. The same core he rode to within two games of playing for the Stanley Cup. I’m sure that quote will go over well.

Is Gallant kidding? He is behind the bench. This isn’t the first time his team not only let a lead in the third period slip up. But they didn’t even get a point. This was as bad a defeat as he’s had coaching the Rangers.

It’s Year Two. You can’t just take no responsibility for what happens in these games. Maybe that’s why Turk has worn out his welcome in other stops. When you have half the fan base already sick of his act this early into the second season, you know how much is expected.

Why should we care if he uses Vincent Trocheck as a checking center between Goodrow and Vesey. It was his brilliant decision to do so. They wound up minus-eight for the game. Though neither Goodrow or Vesey were culpable on the Oilers’ third goal. That was on Trouba, who now is minus-six with only five assists in his first year as captain. The mistakes are piling up. He must be much better.

If they are without Lindgren for any significant time, that isn’t reassuring. The glue of the defense who makes a huge difference as he proved last Spring in providing the warrior-like mentality for the first round comeback against the Pens. Without him, the Rangers haven’t fared well historically.

Whatever the news is on Lindgren, they’ll likely be without him for the first big match-up against the rival Devils on Monday. A first place team that entered Saturday with only four losses in 21 games. They’re much improved under Lindy Ruff, who was once a punchline. No more.

They’re a very fast team that plays well defensively. They are more explosive too. In other words, the Rangers better get it together for Monday’s showdown at MSG. They seem to fare better away from the World’s Most Expensive Arena. That won’t please customers. They deserve better than this circus.

It starts at the top. Maybe it’s time for Gallant to become more accountable before he loses the room. Time is ticking.

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A fan’s perspective on the disappointing Rangers so far

I’ll be honest. I haven’t felt like writing lately about this team. They are far more boring due to the predictability of Gerard Gallant.

Maybe it’s not all his fault either. Maybe it’s the way the roster is constructed. Maybe it’s time to look at the lousy off-season Chris Drury had. Anointed a ‘genius’ by other pundits, I’m starting to see things a bit differently.

Would you have given a 37-year old Jaroslav Halak a full no-movement clause and signed the declining backup goalie for $1.5 million this year? The results haven’t been up to par so far. In six starts, he’s yet to win a game and hasn’t exactly been consistent. Either he straightens out or it’s a huge fail by Drury, whose only other option is journeyman Louis Domingue.

In adding depth forwards Ryan Carpenter and Jimmy Vesey along with re-signing Julien Gauthier, that made Ryan Reaves expendable. Once Gauthier reestablished himself after coming back up from Hartford, the writing was on the wall for a great team guy in Reaves. He did the right thing requesting a trade.

Drury was lucky the Wild were interested. They assumed the rest of the $1.75 million tab for a player who became the odd man out under Gallant. The same coach who wanted him here and played him a lot last year. By extending him before he even played a game, Drury took an expensive risk. Paying a fourth liner that kind of money could’ve come back to bite him.

It nearly did. But due to Reaves’ past relationship with former Penguins teammate and current Wild GM Bill Guerin, Drury was able to accommodate Reaves’ trade request through his agent. He wanted to play. That’s exactly what he did yesterday on Black Friday. Reaves played over 12 minutes for Minnesota. Not bad for a guy who unfortunately became a victim of the numbers.

As much as I liked Reaves for what he brought to last year’s team due to his commitment, character, hard work and leadership, I knew this would likely be his fate. I called it a while ago. I’m glad he got the chance to play for the Rangers and make a positive impact both on and off the ice. Best of luck to a good man with his new team.

Of the additions Drury made, only Vesey has really made a difference. A likeable guy who’s mostly been used in a checking role recently with the Devils across the Hudson River, he’s gotten the opportunity to play in the top six on Broadway. While he’s played an honest game and done well by chipping in with seven points, there’s no way he should be on either the first or second line. Or does his two goals satisfy Gallant to justify playing Vesey with mostly Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider?

It all stems from a lack of trust in former high picks Kaapo Kakko and the lost Alexis Lafreniere, who looks nothing like the player he was supposed to be when they lucked into the top pick three summers ago. While there’s been noticeable improvement from Kakko, who seems to get quality scoring chances every game only to be foiled on most, it’s hard to believe he only has scored four goals. At some point, they have to start going in.

As for Lafreniere, if you haven’t figured it out by now, Gallant has no idea how to use the 2020 first overall pick. He’s tried playing him on the off wing with both Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck. The latter experiment where he found some chemistry with the exasperating Artemi Panarin (0 goals in 11 straight) started positively, but ended poorly.

Since then, the 21-year old Lafreniere has found himself reunited with both Kakko and Filip Chytil on the First Round Pick Line. In Year Three, after a promising showing in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Lafreniere remains stuck on two goals through 21 games. Not enough production for what either is a much overhyped Canadian prospect or another mismanaged young player by an organization known for stunting the growth of most prospects. I think by now, you know which camp I’m in.

Lafreniere’s natural position is left wing. Once the Rangers won the two part Draft Lottery following their ouster from the 2020 Preliminary Round, it put them in an unenviable position of having both Kreider and Panarin ahead of Lafreniere on the depth chart. With Kreider scoring a career high 52 goals including a franchise single season record 26 on the power play in ’21-22, there was no way Lafreniere would start on either of the top two lines at left wing. He’s been screwed around with. Despite that, he has remained positive due to how grounded he is.

With Panarin struggling to produce consistently at five-on-five like he has in years past, it’s complicated matters. Why else would Gallant have him on a new first line alongside Zibanejad with Kreider now shifted over to the off wing. It hasn’t come easy for Panarin with Trocheck, who’s more meat and potatoes unlike former second pivot Ryan Strome.

Trocheck finds himself between Vesey and Barclay Goodrow on a checking line when they host Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the Edmonton Oilers this afternoon. Exactly what they paid Trocheck to do by also giving him seven years and the usual NMC the first three seasons before it becomes a moderated no-trade clause for the rest of the contract.

If Panarin can’t find chemistry on the top line playing with the Rangers’ best players, where to put the $11.6 million man with the immovable contract that doesn’t expire until 2026. If not with Trocheck, perhaps Gallant should consider trying the play-making Panarin with Chytil. An improving player whose 10 points (4-6-10) in 15 games have all come at even strength. His skill, speed and shoot first mentality might work. But they’d probably need a defensively responsibile forward to round it out. Either Vesey or Goodrow. The latter could take draws.

I’m a proponent of giving Kakko another look on the top line. He certainly creates plenty of chances due to his strong puck possession. He’s had breakaways too, but doesn’t shoot enough. He prefers to make one too many moves which opposing goalies seem ready for. He’s still a better option than Vesey, who’s better suited for a checking role like he was in New Jersey. Isn’t it about time they give Kakko an extended look to find out already?

With Gallant steadfast in his refusal to bench Sammy “No Goal” Blais (yet another Drury mistake) and reinsert Vitaly Kravtsov despite indicating otherwise, it feels like the end is near for another high draft pick. I guess they would rather play a bunch of grinders with little skill than find out if Kravtsov can handle the workload. How he’s not part of the equation since being declared healthy from the mysterious stomach bug/toothache is mind-boggling. So much for having a clean slate.

The Rangers aren’t a good offensive team. They rely too much on the established stars. It can’t always be the same five or six guys scoring the goals. That doesn’t work over an 82-game season. Especially if you have Stanley Cup aspirations.

They did clear enough room to add a significant player at next year’s trade deadline. Knowing what we know so far, would you go all in on a rental like Patrick Kane, who’ll cost them young players, prospects and picks? It seems like something this franchise has done before. One Cup in 82 years. Will they ever learn from their past mistakes?

I believe there needs to be better scoring balance. That means not relying on the same top unit which can’t always get it done. It also means Adam Fox getting help from a lackluster blue line where both K’Andre Miller and new captain Jacob Trouba have struggled. Aside from Fox’s six goals, Braden Schneider (2) plus rookie Zac Jones and Libor Hajek have four goals combined. They need a lot more from Trouba and Miller. Ryan Lindgren isn’t paid for offense. He supplies the nuts and bolts.

Igor Shesterkin has accounted for all 10 wins this team has. His play has gotten significantly better this month. He will face the McDavid/Draisaitl Oilers machine today. The rating Vezina winner enters with a 10-2-3 mark with a 2.38 GAA and .917 save percentage. Respectable numbers that should improve. If the offense continues to be inconsistent, they’ll need Shesterkin at his best. We know what he’s capable of. He’ll be asked to carry the team much like last year.

In certain aspects, it feels like when Henrik Lundqvist had to do similar with lesser rosters. He never had a player like Panarin, who could produce at such a high clip. Nor a dominant defenseman in the mold of Fox. The most valuable Blueshirt up to the quarter mark. Fox has been so good that I have him ahead of Erik Karlsson for the Norris. He has to do everything. Where would they be without him?

In order for them to have more success, it’s imperative for the younger players to have clearly defined roles that have them contributing the secondary offense needed. You can only ask Fox, Zibanejad, Panarin, Kreider and even Trocheck to do so much. Both Panarin and Zibanejad can be better at five-on-five. They should be.

Whether he realizes it or not, Turk isn’t getting many goals from grinders such as Vesey, Gauthier, Carpenter or 12th forward Blais. Goodrow can chip in due to having a bit of skill to go with his grit. He’ll remain a key player that can be plugged anywhere. Similar to last season.

That means getting more out of Kakko and Lafreniere. One has more confidence while the other is clearly working through it. They do continue to work well with Chytil like they had during last year’s dream run to the Conference Finals. One that might’ve been fool’s gold due to injuries to opposing netminders and Sidney Crosby. They also benefitted from having Andrew Copp, Frank Vatrano and depth players Tyler Motte and Justin Braun playing key roles.

The growth of the team depends on the kids. Just like I said at the beginning of the season. They will determine what kind of year it is.

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Devils’ winning streak finally ends amid controversy and anger

As the saying goes, it was a fun ride while it lasted! Finally, the Devils’ insane winning streak ended at thirteen straight games after what can only be termed a frustrating 2-1 loss to a Leafs team that was undermanned on defense but rode a solid performance from Matt Murray, some puckluck and some help from the black and white stripes to get over the finish line – much to the (ahem) consternation of the second straight sellout crowd of the week.

Before getting into the controversy and ugliness last night, the most important thing is giving credit to this team for tying a franchise record with the thirteen straight wins. I’m glad this team got its deserved sendoff from the home crowd when tying the record Monday with a 5-2 win over the Oilers. You could tell from before puck drop that night (and yesterday) that something different was in the air, and not just because we sold out weekday games against non-Ranger teams in November. My commute on Monday was one of the longest I’ve ever had to the Prudential Center – like an hour and fifteen minutes for a drive that generally takes 35-40 minutes because of all the traffic around Newark – but it was more than worth it to see the Devils smash the Oilers, while new goalie Vitek Vanecek in the postgame showed viscerally how welcome he’s felt in New Jersey, thanks to some stellar play over the first quarter of the season.

Shockingly the commute wasn’t anywhere near that bad last night – perhaps because of the upcoming holiday (not to mention the renewed excitement around the team), most of the crowd was already in the arena by puck drop. At least this time I was also able to cheer the team in pregame intros, and not rush to my seat right after the national anthem. After a quiet first few minutes on the ice, the crowd roared when Nathan Bastian’s apparent goal gave the Devils an early lead…but in what proved to be a harbinger, the goal was dubiously waved off due to goaltender interference, which basically consisted of a skate tap between Bastian and Murray outside the crease where Murray wasn’t even complaining about interference afterward! To add insult to injury, the Devils’ challenge was denied and they had to kill a power play off on top of the first controversial decision of the night.

At least the Leafs didn’t score on that power play, but their explosive offense put the Devils behind the eight ball early when a nice individual play by Mitch Marner to win the puck away from Devils defensemen Jonas Siegenthaler and Dougie Hamilton gave him enough time to find a streaking John Tavares in front of the net for the Leafs’ first goal at 11:41. A couple minutes later, an unfortunate bounce left the puck in no-mans land between Vanecek and Leafs winger Pontus Holmberg. In hindsight, Vanecek had enough time to play the puck but in the heat of game action those decisions aren’t always the easiest ones to make, but leaving the puck for a wide open Holmberg proved costly as he scored his first NHL goal to put the Leafs up two at 14:03 of the first.

Early in the second period came the Devils’ second disallowed goal, when Tomas Tatar’s tip into an empty net was ruled out because of ‘incidental contact’ – which more or less consisted of Tatar trying to skate inside Murray after a poor clearing attempt by the latter – with the goaltender grazing him and performing a theatrical flop. Despite the no-goals and Dawson Mercer hitting a post earlier in the first period, the Devils’ offense was still shut down early by the Leafs’ fill-in defensive unit, getting only eight shots on net almost halfway through the game when a Tavares penalty seemingly turned the tide. Granted, the Devils didn’t score on the ensuing power play but they peppered Murray with several scoring chances and it was a shooting gallery from then on.

Still, no goal would come until the third period though when Erik Haula attempted to kick the puck toward Bastian, and it hit off a Leafs defender and went past Murray. Another goal, another discussion, another wave-off job by the refs and confirmation of an illegal kicking motion after a review (ahem) in Toronto. I mean it would be nice to have one uniform rule over what an illegal kicking motion is, since the definition seems to change every single year. If that goal is going to be disallowed where the puck wasn’t actually kicked towards the net, then you could theoretically disallow a goal that gets kicked from center ice into the defensive zone and then hits off a stick for an own goal. At a certain point, so-called safety concerns have to be overridden by common sense.

Of course, it figures it was Chris Rooney who was the head ref for this game, since this guy has been involved in multiple incidents all going against us – starting with the controversial Steve Bernier boarding call in Game 6 of the 2012 Finals, going through to when he ejected then-coach Pete DeBoer for calling him out after another one-sided officiating game a year or two later in one of the season’s final games. It seems like every time there’s something unusual in the air going against us, this guy’s somehow involved and that was the case again last night. Things reached a boiling point last night after disallowed goal #3 and…well, it wasn’t pretty.

As annoying as everything on the ice was, I can’t say it excuses the crowd’s behavior. Throwing innocuous projectiles like caps or rally towels is one thing but throwing half-filled beers, I mean come on now…at best you’re just causing a delay of the game and making the arena staff work unnecessarily to clear the ice. At worst you might hit someone with a plastic can or the beer itself, not to mention there could have theoretically been a delay of game assessed to the crowd. Of course, I’m sure the refs last night saw trying to enforce a delay of game for that would not have been a good idea for their own safety.

Still, you could feel the anger building from the first goal on, it was the perfect storm for things to get ugly given the fact of a sellout holiday crowd, a big game and every big call going against the home team. However you want to debate the merits of each disallowed goal – and they’re all shown here – it’s pretty rare when three of those go against the home team (or any team) in the same game.

Also throw in the fact that the game was already delayed for several minutes earlier in the third period after Murray gratuitously shoved the net off its moorings – for no other reason than to slow our attack down after we were buzzing the first few minutes of the period. Some call it a veteran move, I call it lame gamesmanship. At the very least goalies should be fined when they do that, it would also be nice to have an off-ice official inform the refs on the ice that it should be a delay of game to stop that kind of nonsense from happening.

Still, in spite of all the adversity throughout the night and two third-period delays, you figured this Devils team would at least make a run at it to try and keep the winning streak alive. Sure enough, they finally scored one even the refs could find no fault in when a Hamilton deflection made it legally past Murray with 5:08 to go in the game, pulling the Devils to within one. For the final few minutes in a one-goal game the crowd was on its feet cheering and chanting, trying to will in the tying goal. It was the most intense regular season crowd (by a country mile) I’ve ever experienced personally and a fun atmosphere overall – the ugliness and frustration aside – but despite all that and playing with the net empty for about half that time, the tying goal would never come and the fans at the end alternated between those of us who stayed to clap the team off the ice and those who stayed to throw even more beers at the end of the game.

All things considered, perhaps the most fitting response to the craziness came from now not-so-embattled coach Lindy Ruff:

Now that the streak is over comes the next test for a young team, how they manage to sustain a high level of play without the adrenaline of going for a team record. There isn’t much time to rest and recharge after the holiday with a back-to-back against the Sabres and Capitals on the docket for this weekend. Brendan Smith alluded to guarding against a letdown in the postgame clip at the top, but this is where both having a veteran coach and more of a veteran presence in the locker room this year should help. When you bring in guys used to winning, eventually that’s going to rub off and it has in spades so far this year.

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Strong response to flat start earns Rangers an important win over Kings

This isn’t going to be too long. With there being another game tonight on Turkey Eve at the Ducks, there’s no point in doing a full breakdown.

However, it was important for the Rangers to come back from two goals down after a lousy first period to earn a 5-3 win over a good Kings team at Staples Center. They needed it.

The strong response to falling behind by two was necessary. When almost everyone called them out for a flat opening period where they were fortunate to only be down by a pair thanks to a couple of crucial saves from Igor Shesterkin, there had to be some push back.

Finally, there was. Instead of letting it mount, the Rangers came back with the kind of workmanlike effort that’s been sorely lacking. If they can use the three-goal second period as a prime example for how they have to play to win consistently, maybe we’ll look back at it as a turning point.

There wasn’t much to say about the first period. It was lackluster. At times, they looked like they were sleepwalking. The Kings took advantage of an early non-icing to take the lead when Kevin Fiala was able to reach around Jacob Trouba and put in a rebound just 35 seconds into the game.

It didn’t get any better. A lazy turnover by Artemi Panarin, who hasn’t been scoring, lead to Vincent Trocheck going off for slashing Alex Edler. A miscommunication between Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox allowed Fiala to make a perfect statue of liberty pass for an easy Gabriel Vilardi finish with Shesterkin clearly frustrated.

With the exception of the checking line which remained the same, there wasn’t much for the Rangers to like. The grunt work from Ryan Carpenter, Sammy Blais and Julien Gauthier was noticeable. At least they played a simple game and generated forecheck pressure. None of the other three lines did anything.

They still were only down two thanks to Shesterkin, who made sure to keep them afloat with 11 saves on 13 shots. He was very good throughout finishing with 35 stops on 38 to earn his 10th victory. He continues to round into form.

Whatever was said between periods, the team responded well. Off a strong cycle from Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafreniere, Braden Schneider was able to beat Kings goalie Cal Petersen from the point with both Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko in front.

Although they didn’t tie it right away, the difference in their approach was noteworthy. Instead of the predictable over skating and passing that never accomplishes much, they decided to take a more simple philosophy. That meant taking a page from the Kings, who fired pucks at Shesterkin from everywhere in the opening stanza.

Beginning to use their team speed to break through the tight checking of the Kings, the Blueshirts had more success. They spent more time in the attack zone. That also created more shots on Petersen, who was forced into some harder saves. He did well for the first half.

However, with LA backing up more, it allowed the Rangers to zip through the neutral zone and continue to pile up chances. On a simple Lindgren outlet for Trocheck, he easily gained the zone and maneuvered around a King before having a strange shot go right off Drew Doughty and past a stunned Petersen to tie it up.

A bizarre sequence if you ever saw one. Trocheck came in with speed and kind of fanned on his attempt. But it worked because the puck went off Doughty and straight in the air into the net for a 2-2 score with 7:59 left. That play was the biggest one of the game. It was unpredictable and really gave the Rangers momentum. They haven’t gotten many bounces. That was a huge one on a rare even strength goal for Trocheck.

The Kings did try to get it back. But Shesterkin was strong during the middle period. He made all 10 saves in the frame. His focus was there. It’s exactly what they need from their ace in net.

Late in the period, a delayed call on the Kings which was drawn by the third line lead to an actual goal during a six-on-five. With Mika Zibanejad on as the extra attacker, they continued to move the puck around until Chytil took a Lafreniere feed and fired a wrist shot that was partially deflected. The puck came to Kakko, who was able to get enough of the rebound to bank it in off of Arthur Kaliyev for a 3-2 lead with 76 seconds left.

It snapped a six-game goal drought. The goal was Kakko’s second of the month. After scoring two in the first four games, he’s struggled to finish. Unfortunately, he still isn’t over it. There was another frustrating sequence in the third that almost cost them.

On another dominant shift where they had the Kings on their heels, Petersen lost his goal stick. In fact, as the First Round Pick Line continued to cycle the puck, Kakko came out and had a great scoring chance with Petersen dead to rights. But instead of shooting right away, he waited too long. The shot never made it to the open net as diving Kings players sold out to block it in another crazy sequence.

Astonishingly, it was the Kings who came back down the ice and scored. On a quick counter started by Fiala, Anze Kopitar was able to set up defenseman Sean Walker for a shot that beat Shesterkin to tie it back up with 13:48 remaining. A visibly frustrated Kakko threw up his hands in disgust.

The play was so exasperating that I went off at Kakko for falling to score on such a great opportunity. He has to understand that when you get those kind of chances at the NHL level, you have to shoot the puck quickly. Not wait. He’s not the only player who does it. During the second, Panarin was all set up by Trouba on a great pass. He waited and allowed Petersen to get set and make the save. That’s a veteran star player. It’s absurd.

With Kakko and Lafreniere both trying to figure out how they didn’t score on their shift while Walker tied it, a smart play by Zibanejad lead directly to Chris Kreider scoring the game-winner less than a minute later.

Taking a Fox pass, Zibanejad fired a bank pass off the boards so the speedy Kreider could beat his man to the loose puck. Once he did to negate an icing, he surprised Petersen with a snapshot that went high short side for his eighth goal at 7:06. The goal celly told the story with both Kreider and Zibanejad pumped up.

Following the goal, Trocheck made sure to give Kakko a tap on his helmet at the bench. Just to say, ‘We got this.’ That had to be reassuring. They still had to protect the one-goal lead with under 13 minutes left.

It came down to Shesterkin. He wasn’t about to give back the second one-goal lead. Strong saves on Adrian Kempe, Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson really stood out in a third period the Kings out-shot the Rangers 15-7. They created enough chances off their cycle. But were unable to put the puck past Shesterkin, who was the difference.

With Petersen off for an extra attacker late, Jimmy Vesey passed up for Kreider who skated calmly and tucked the puck in for the empty netter with 50 seconds to go. It was a well earned win. One the team desperately needed.

THREE STARS OF GAME

3rd 🌟 LafreniereChytilKakko NYR 1-4-5, +4 rating

2nd 🌟 🤩 Kevin Fiala LAK goal (7th) plus 2 🍎 in 18:52

1st 🌟 🤩 ⭐️ Igor Shesterkin NYR 35 saves on 38 shots incl. 15/15 in deciding 3rd

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Same old, same old for Gallant and bland Rangers

There will be a hockey game in a bit played at the old Staples Center in Hollywood. The Rangers face the Kings in an interesting match-up where Luc Robitaille starred along with Gretzky, who made hockey happening in California.

Without the Great One, there’s no expansion in San Jose or Anaheim where the latter were born thanks to Disney’s hit The Mighty Ducks. Gretzky helped the NHL become more popular in non-traditional markets. At one point, the league had 21 teams. Now, they’ve increased to 32 with Seattle being added last year a few years after Vegas.

It’s fun to talk about how hockey changed in the 90’s. Who ever would’ve thought the sport would become such a hot ticket in Colorado or Nashville? At least Winnipeg got a new franchise after losing the original Jets to the unstable Arizona where Gary Bettman continues to cling to some hope that hockey can succeed in the Desert.

While it’s nice to revisit the sport’s popularity due to expansion, it isn’t as fun to talk about the current Rangers playing in Manhattan. Why is that?

Coming off a great ’21-22 that saw the team have tremendous success both in the regular season and postseason where they were able to rally past both division rivals in the Pens and Hurricanes to reach the Eastern Conference Final, one would think differently about this season. But they’d be proven wrong due to the stubborn nature of Gerard Gallant.

A good coach who fit in well during Year One, he managed to push every right button. He gets plenty of credit for turning around a franchise that hadn’t seen the playoffs since former coach Alain Vigneault left Broadway in ruins for David Quinn to try to fix. He did as good as he could in his first gig. Now, he’s trying his luck in San Jose.

Ironically, Quinn got his first win for the Sharks in overtime at MSG on an Erik Karlsson goal. Who knew it would be the start of a career revival for the two-time Norris winner? Good for him. The Sharks play hard under Quinn. Of course, they do. They’re not too good.

The Rangers just visited the Shark Tank over the weekend. They dominated most of the action by doubling up the Sharks in shots and scoring chances. However, for over two periods, the game remained scoreless. It dragged due to the Rangers’ ineptitude at five-on-five. They aren’t too exciting.

It took a rare goal for the deserving Julien Gauthier to break a scoreless tie with just over six minutes remaining. The second for a hard-working player who gives maximum effort every shift. Since his recall from Hartford, he’s done enough to stay up. What does that mean for Ryan Carpenter and Ryan Reaves, who remains a healthy scratch tonight?

Complicating matters, you have Gallant who’s so reliant on his top guns that there’s zero creativity. Even though Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko play together with Filip Chytil on a key third line that was instrumental during last Spring’s run, they barely see any real power play time. They also aren’t leaned on like top performers Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck and Adam Fox.

The problem is Gallant insists on Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow playing in the top six. That isn’t working. Vesey made the roster on a PTO. He’s better suited in a supporting role. He wasn’t even used that way under early Jack Adams candidate Lindy Ruff for the Devils last season. Vesey is a strong penalty killer having cashed in once shorthanded. But playing first line had really infuriated the fan base.

Goodrow is a guy you can plug. However, he’s best utilized in a checking role. Why he isn’t centering the fourth line? He does have four goals and plays the game honestly. He brings that edge too. An effective penalty killer who also can get underneath the skin of opponents, Goody isn’t afraid to mix it up. With how vanilla the roster is, that’s a good thing.

There also is the issue of Vitaly Kravtsov. A player who can’t seem to stay healthy, he finally picked up his first point on an assist during a win. Then, he had the toothache issue that kept him out of the lineup. However, Gallant admitted that the rookie is ready to return and has been for a couple of games. Instead of getting another look at him with Panarin and Trocheck, the all too predictable coach has decided to stick with the same lineup that only got two pucks by James Reimer on 43 shots.

For a coach who had indicated that he likes Kravtsov and wants to see what he can do, it sounds like double-talk. Either he wants to play him and will or he’s full of it. Right now, it feels like the latter. It’s not like this team is scoring a lot at even strength. They still have the same weakness as last year.

The difference is Team President and GM Chris Drury won’t be able to add an Andrew Copp or Frank Vatrano to bolster the offense. There’s not enough room for Patrick Kane, who isn’t a realistic option for a team up against the cap.

With Lafreniere remaining stuck on two goals and strong possession fourth-year man Kakko stuck on three goals despite showing some improvement, how can anyone be excited about this team? If the key stars and overused top unit doesn’t produce, there remains a lack of scoring depth. Especially with the former 2019 second pick and 2020 top pick unable to provide consistent offense.

As for the blue line, if Fox isn’t scoring goals or picking up assists, no one is. He’s the MVP of the team so far over Igor Shesterkin. Where would they be without him? He plays a ton of minutes for Gallant, who leans on his former Norris winner at five-on-five, power play and penalty kill. Jacob Trouba is mostly used at even strength and on the penalty kill with a small role on the second power play when it actually sees the ice. Trouba is rounding into form after some injuries. That’s a plus.

Ryan Lindgren remains a warrior. K’Andre Miller has been a big disappointment so far. He’s made too many mistakes and hasn’t taken the leap forward many pundits expected. Braden Schneider has picked it up after a slow start. Thus far, Gallant has worked in both rookie Zac Jones and Libor Hajek to play with Schneider on the third pair. That’s fine. But Jones is the better skater who can contribute on the second power play.

Shesterkin has been better lately. It’s hard to match what he achieved last year. That was a historic season. But he’s starting to make the big saves we’re accustomed to seeing from him. His numbers should continue to improve. It would be nice to see the Rangers provide better support for Jaro Halak. He’s been better than his statistics.

If they want to become the team they’re supposed to be, it’s up to Gallant to trust his younger players. It’s also up to those aforementioned players to start producing. If it doesn’t improve, it’s hard to see the team having too much success next Spring. They should get there. But they’ll need much more balance to go far.

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Devils’ second Canada sweep runs winning streak to a dozen

How many superlatives and different stats would it take to do justice on what the Devils have done over their twelve-game winning streak and 15-1 stretch overall? Probably not enough, though it is hard to believe we still aren’t even a quarter of the way through the season yet. There’s still a lot of hockey to go before we print out tickets for the franchise’s second playoff appearance since 2012. That said, I don’t think even the most wild-eyed optimists would have had us at 15-3 at this point before the season, and certainly not after our 0-2 start brought out the boobirds and Same Old Devils fears.

Who would have thought Same Old Devils in this case would eventually be referring to the REAL old Devils, the throwback version of the ’90’s who can clamp down on teams defensively early and often while scoring more goals than your reputation would suggest? When you’re third in goal-scoring and second in goals against, you’re doing a lot right at the moment. Especially in comparison to last year where the Devils were nineteenth in scoring and twenty-ninth in goals allowed. Of course there is no one reason for such a drastic turnaround…perhaps the closest you can come to a singular reason is to start with praising third-year GM Tom Fitzgerald for remaking the coaching staff, defense and goaltending pretty significantly in a short period of time, and even adding to the young core up front in free agency last offseason with Ondrej Palat.

Ironically the Devils have achieved the entirety of their winning streak without Palat, who went on the shelf with hernia surgery after the first six games. Although the Devils had done a good job by then to get out of their 0-2 hole, you still didn’t think anything special was on the horizon after a disappointing home loss to the Caps dropped them back down to .500. Almost like a baseball team the Devils have engineered four straight sweeps…after beating Detroit on the road and coming back home to beat the Avs and Blue Jackets came the first Canada sweep of Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. After sweeping a homestand of Calgary, Ottawa and Arizona, the Devils went back up north to sweep the Habs, Leafs and Senators.

This team can win any way you want, from the 1-0 low-event clampdown of the Cup champs a month ago to the wild comeback in Edmonton a couple weeks ago. From OT winners against the Oilers, Flames and Leafs to blowouts of the Blue Jackets, Habs and Senators. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about a long winning streak is you need to not have letdowns to maintain the streak. Only the Calgary game at home could qualify as a quasi-letdown after the first Canada swing – and the Devils still found a way to win it thanks to Vitek Vanecek’s thirty-three saves and just enough scoring over the last forty minutes to ensure win number seven.

Perhaps this recent Canada sweep was most telling, with the winning streak now at nine you’d figure the inevitable letdown or off night was on the way at some point. This team means business however, and showed as much by thumping the Habs and Senators by matching 5-1 scores in between a tough 3-2 OT win over the Leafs, which was one of the rare occasions where the Devils couldn’t clamp down late in the third period this season – but they still managed to come out of Toronto with their eleventh straight win thanks to Yegor Sharangovich’s putback of a rebound. Even his celebration looked all business.

As the Devils shockingly are just one win away from tying the team record of thirteen straight (set during the franchise’s most dominant regular season in 2000-01), it’s a little more satisfying that they haven’t needed a shootout to extend the run at any point. In fact, they haven’t even so much as gone to a shootout at any point this year…so maybe we haven’t quite proven we can win every way yet. Obviously, you didn’t have three-on-three OT’s in 2000-01 either, but both teams also have the same chance to get a quick winner and end the game after all. Fabian Zetterlund and Nico Hischier scored their own OT winners earlier throughout the streak, and overall this offense is finally starting to show the promise many had forecast for it at ‘some’ point in the near future led by Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt and captain Hischier. Maybe the future really is now.

If the offense’s growth was somewhat hoped for – if not this year then soon after – the defense’s emergence has been nothing short of eye-popping. It’s nice to know that Dougie Hamilton’s poor second half last year really was the result of injury concerns and not the start of a downturn a la PK Subban after we acquired him and that certainly helps, but he was also here and playing well early last year too when the defense was still a tire fire. You have to start by crediting the new coaching staff for a more streamlined, simpler system that’s reduced killer mistakes and overall traffic in front of the net. And as I alluded to before, you also have to credit Fitz’s talent procurement – though even he admitted he didn’t think John Marino was as good as he’s played so far this season – after trading to get him from Pittsburgh this offseason. Adding Marino to Hamilton and last season’s breakout Jonas Siegenthaler (a 2020 deadline acquisition) is nothing short of spectacular, and he did it for merely the cost of a few mid-round picks, Ty Smith – still holed up back in the minors for Pittsburgh – and some salary cap space.

Even those additions on defense wouldn’t have meant as much without also trading another couple of picks for Vitek Vanecek to help stabilize the goaltending. Despite losing presumed 1A Mackenzie Blackwood to injury (again) early in the season, Vanecek is showing that he’s capable of being a #1 for a prolonged stretch. Even young injury fill-in Akira Schmid has chipped in with three wins during this stretch, just more proof of how much better this D can insulate a young goalie this year than they did last season with a different system and different personnel.

Just as important as acquiring all these pieces, is acquiring them at cost control for long periods. Hamilton’s still got five more years left on his free agent contract after this year, Marino is still on the books for another four years at $4.4 million per, and Siegs’ five-year extension at $3.4 million per doesn’t even kick in until after this season. Even Vanecek is signed at a friendly $3.4 million deal through the end of the 2024-25 season, and after that it’s not unreasonable to suggest Schmid or last year’s young emergency fill-in goalie Nico Daws could be a 1A/1B tandem and/or challenge for a #1 spot by the time Vanecek’s contract runs out. When you add in the fact that Hughes and Hischier are both signed long-term at $8 million and $7.25 respectively for at least the next few years, this team is not only in good shape for the immediate future but in the long-term as well. Of course some of that is pending Bratt’s next negotiation either in-season or early next offseason, but you couldn’t really ask for more going forward, especially from a first-time GM.

And wither Lindy Ruff? Unlike most of the key players, his contract expires at the end of the season. Barely a month after the Fire Lindy chants rained down from the heavens at the Prudential Center, now the Jack Adams speculation is on full blast. How would he not be a prime candidate for Coach of the Year if the Devils really were able to improve 30-40 points and make the playoffs? You wonder how much job security that would buy him, but assuming there’s no collapse then I can’t see Fitzy letting him walk off a good season after he gave him a vote of confidence off two poor ones. Presumed replacement Andrew Brunette might have to go elsewhere for his next job, or wait a little longer here.

That’d be just fine by me…it’s nice to only worry about how long the winning streak will last as opposed who we need to replace and how much longer this rebuild is going to take. Our offensive, defensive and shot total numbers all suggest this winning is at least somewhat sustainable although I can’t exactly see us lapping the field in the Metro forever either. At least we’ve already made progress in that the season isn’t almost over by Thanksgiving, and perhaps we’ve gone a couple of steps beyond that in the rebuilding pyramid – thank goodness.

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Deserving Hall Of Fame class inducted, Jackie Redmond drives home the point on Mogilny omission

Another class was inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame on Monday night. All were deserving.

Former Canucks teammates Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Roberto Luongo went in together in a nice two-hour ceremony up in Toronto. Along with former Senators star Daniel Alfredsson, they headlined a strong Class Of 2022 that included Riikka Sallinen and the late Herb Carnegie.

The speeches were excellent. I particularly enjoyed Henrik Sedin making a wise crack at twin brother Daniel Sedin about scoring more goals when he missed a month due to an injury. Maybe he could’ve been a 45-goal scorer instead of a brilliant two-way play-making center who won the Hart Trophy. An award brother Daniel nearly won during the best era in Canucks history under former coach Alain Vigneault.

If that was a joke that resonated with the audience, they definitely loved the always entertaining Luongo. He had many great stories and made certain to thank everyone dating back to his bantam days. The fourth winningest goaltender of all-time, Luongo did it mostly with the Panthers and Canucks. He was also presented by the legendary Dominik Hasek. The man affectionately known to fans as Lou admitted he was blown away because it was the first time he ever met Hasek.

Luongo made sure to mention his brothers who he played and competed with growing up. Both were emotional when the camera panned to them. You could see how much it meant. Seeing the classy Luongo pay tribute to his family including his grandparents who were there for him with both parents busy working, exemplifies what a great person he is. That includes his wife, daughter and son.

While it was well done, it still doesn’t make sense that one deserving player hasn’t been inducted yet. Alexander Mogilny has been eligible since 2009. I’ve echoed over and over again how he’s been omitted by the HHOF Committee. It’s extremely disappointing that such former legends Lanny McDonald and Mike Gartner continue to overlook the credentials of Mogilny.

The first ever player drafted by an NHL team to defect from the Soviet Union during an era when it was very risky, Mogilny was brave enough to leave his home country behind and make it safely to North America. His defection lead to more Russian players coming over.

The list included former World Junior line mates Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Bure. Alongside Mogilny, they formed one of the best scoring lines. They won gold at the 1989 World Junior Championships and ’89 World Championships. All three would have brilliant NHL careers. Bure was inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame in 2012 and Fedorov joined him in 2015.

Meanwhile, Mogilny still is waiting to take his deserving place in Toronto. It’s a mystery why he hasn’t been recognized yet by the committee. A Triple Gold Club member who won a Stanley Cup with the Devils in ’99-00, he topped 30 goals in eight different seasons. If not for injuries and the shortened ’95 season, it could’ve been more.

At 20, Mogilny defected to North America following the World Championships. A phone call to Don Luce on May 2, 1989 put into action the first ever player to defect the Soviet Union. It was his agent Sergei Fomitchev who represented him in the discussions to escape the USSR and relocate to Buffalo.

The previous year, the Sabres took a risk by selecting Mogilny in the fifth round of the 1988 NHL Draft when it was considered blasphemy to waste a pick on a Russian player. They selected him 89th overall. Then Buffalo GM Don Meehan knew it would be met with criticism. However, he felt it was worth it. He envisioned Mogilny coming over and proving he could produce in the NHL.

Mogilny had achieved everything possible back home. The line he played on with Bure and Fedorov is considered by many to be one of the greatest scoring lines in hockey history. Maybe not quite KLM Line. But the idea of three electrifying future Russian stars in Bure, Fedorov and Mogilny playing together in their teens is enough to wonder what they could’ve done had they played on the same team in the NHL.

When he debuted, the then 20-year old Mogilny scored in his first game for the Sabres against the Nordiques in a 4-3 victory. In 65 games during ’89-90, he registered 15 goals and 28 assists for 43 points as a rookie. He was just getting started.

Over the next five years including four with Buffalo, he was well over a point-per-game. It started in his second season when Mogilny went 30-34-64 in 62 games at 21. After being even better during ’91-92 when he totaled 39 goals, 45 assists and 84 points, he reached the pinnacle at 23.

It was during the ’92-93 season that Mogilny flat out dominated. Playing with Pat LaFontaine, he scored 76 goals with 51 assists for a career best 127 points in 77 games. The 76 goals tied Calder winner Teemu Selanne for the league lead. A remarkable 49 goals came at even strength while the other 27 were on the power play. He led the league with 11 game-winners. He followed that up by torching the hated Bruins for six goals in a first round sweep best remembered for Sabres legendary voice Rick Jeanneret’s May Day call for Brad May winning the series in overtime.

It was a memorable year. Mogilny’s former teammate Bure put up 60 goals for Vancouver in his second season. Fedorov had 87 points for Detroit. He’d win the Hart Trophy the following season when he went for 56 goals and 64 assists for 120 points with a plus-48 rating. Bure would help lead the Canucks on a great run to the Stanley Cup Finals in ’94. They were all established stars.

After ’93-94 and ’95 where he still went over a point-per-game with 126 points (51-75-126) in 110 contests, Mogilny was traded to the Canucks for Mike Peca, a first round pick (Jay McKee) and Mike Wilson on July 8, 1995. Just like that, his brilliant career with the Sabres was over. He finished it with 211 goals, 233 assists and 444 points in 381 games.

Although his number 89 was never retired, there will never be another dynamic player like him to wear that jersey. Currently, Alex Tuch wears the number for a new batch of Sabres. He’s a good player who could become the future captain. One wonders if one day, the Sabres will have a change of heart and honor Mogilny. He deserves it.

Teamed with old friend Bure in ’95-96, Mogilny had to do it mostly without the Russian Rocket. Bure tore his ACL 15 games into the season. It was the beginning of the end for him in Vancouver. Astonishingly, Mogilny had a great first season with the Canucks. He scored 55 goals and added 52 assists for 107 points. That included a team high five shorthanded goals and three hat tricks.

They still made the playoffs due to having a good enough roster which included captain Trevor Linden, Cliff Ronning, Russ Courtnall, Martin Gelinas and Jyrki Lumme. They lost to the Avalanche in the first round in six games. That Colorado team won the Cup.

Sadly, that was the only year the Canucks made the playoffs when Mogilny played there. Even after Bure got back to full strength going for 51 goals and 90 points in ’97-98, changes were coming. Mark Messier had arrived along with Mike Keenan in a huge miscalculation by the organization that set them back.

They did steal future Canucks great Markus Naslund from the Pens. They also traded for Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan McCabe from the Islanders in an unpopular deal that sent Linden to Long Island. At least Brian Burke flipped McCabe and his first pick to the Blackhawks to wind up altering the franchise’s future by scooping up the Sedins.

Injuries limited Mogilny to 32 combined goals and 90 points in 110 games between ’97-98 and ’98-99. By the time ’99-00 rolled around, Bure had been sent packing to Florida for Ed Jovanovski in a seven player deal that included Kevin Weekes and Dave Gagner coming over while Bret Hedican joined the Russian Rocket in the sunshine state.

Mogilny’s days were numbered. After going 21-17-38 in 47 games, he was acquired by the Devils on March 14, 2000 for Brendan Morrison and Denis Peterson. The Devils were going for it. They also brought back former Conn Smythe winner Claude Lemieux. Although he played a secondary role on a strong Devils team that featured A Line members Patrik Elias, Jason Arnott and Petr Sykora, Mogilny helped them win a Cup with three goals and four assists at age 30.

As fate would have it, he was on in place of the injured Sykora when Elias set up Arnott for the memorable Stanley Cup winning goal in sudden death to dethrone the Stars. The Devils proved to be the best team thanks to future Hall Of Famers Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer and Scott Stevens. They also had Brian Rafalski on the blue line and featured Bobby Holik, Lemieux, Mogilny, Scott Gomez, Randy McKay and John Madden in support of the A Line. It was a deep roster.

After playing a minor role the previous Spring, Mogilny was instrumental in helping the Devils to a first place finish in the old Atlantic Division when they dominated for 111 points under Cup winning coach Larry Robinson. While Elias, Arnott and Sykora continued their assault on the league, it was a healthy Mogilny who paced the Devs in goals with 43. He added 40 assists for 83 points. His highest total in six years.

He did it playing with second-year pivot Gomez and Sergei Brylin. They both benefited. Brylin set personal highs in goals (23), assists (29) and points (52). Gomez followed up a 70-point Calder campaign with 63 points. That cohesive second line sometimes acted like the top line during games in ’00-01. Mogilny recorded a hat trick versus the Islanders. For his brilliant career, he finished with 18 hat tricks including a pair of four goals games with the Sabres.

The Devils again played for the Cup during the 2001 Playoffs. Although he performed better tallying five goals and 11 helpers for 16 points tying Holik for fourth in team scoring that postseason, it ended in bitter fashion. They blew a three games to two lead against the Avalanche, falling in seven to lose the Cup. It was the last game Mogilny would play for that team.

He became an unrestricted free agent and signed with the Maple Leafs that summer. He still performed well in Toronto over three years. In ’01-02, he had 57 points (24-33-57) in 66 games and added eight goals and three helpers for 11 points during the postseason. Thanks to some clutch goals from Mogilny in two deciding Game Seven’s during the first two rounds, the Leafs went to the Conference Finals before getting upset by the surprising Hurricanes. Detroit won the Cup over Carolina in five.

Mogilny went over a point-per-game in ’02-03. At 33, his 33 goals placed second on the Leafs behind captain Mats Sundin. He paced Toronto in assists (46), points (79) and game-winners (9) over 73 games. Despite a good season, the Leafs were ousted by the rival Flyers in seven during a back and forth first round. Mogilny led the Maple Leafs with five goals and seven points. But they lost in the deciding Game Seven badly to get eliminated.

His final year in Toronto was limited to 37 games due to major hip surgery. However, he returned and recorded career point 1,000 against the Sabres. A game the Leafs came back in to pull out. A Mogilny assist on a Gary Roberts’ game-tying goal was Mogilny’s 1,000th career point. He also set up the overtime winner by Tomas Kaberle.

Despite another good season that included a first round triumph over Ontario rival Ottawa, the Maple Leafs ultimately were eliminated again by the Flyers in the second round. This time, Jeremy Roenick broke Toronto hearts by scoring in overtime to oust the Leafs. It took six games.

Instead of completing the fourth year of his contract with the Maple Leafs, Mogilny was forced to sit out due to an ugly labor dispute that forced the cancelation of the entire 2004-05 season. It was a black eye for hockey. Even baseball didn’t lose the whole season in 1994. But the players strike ended a special year on Aug. 12, 1994. The NHL joined MLB as the only two major sports to not have a champion due to a canceled season. Sad.

Instead of retiring, Mogilny decided to take Devils GM Lou Lamoriello up on his offer to return to New Jersey for ’05-06. He actually didn’t want to leave the first time. But the Devils couldn’t match the Leafs’ offer of $22 million over four years.

In returning to Jersey, the hope was that the veteran Russian still had enough left to help the Devils compete. Although he was still productive putting up 12 goals and 13 helpers for 25 points in 34 games, his hip wouldn’t allow him to stay healthy. Eventually, Lamoriello bit the bullet and asked Mogilny to play for Albany in the AHL. He agreed. He only lasted 19 games.

The original contract he signed was for $7 million over two years. Due to his hip issues, Mogilny couldn’t get medically cleared to return for ’06-07. He was eventually placed on long-term injured reserve (LTIR). He retired after the season concluded.

It’s unfortunate that he couldn’t go out on his own terms. However, Mogilny had an outstanding career. He finished with 473 goals, 559 assists and totaled 1,032 points in 990 games. Among the highlights were the 76-goal season which led the league with Selanne in ’92-93. The first ever Russian hockey player to pace the NHL in goals.

He hit 1,000 points before Fedorov joined him as the first two Russians to achieve the feat. Of the 18 hat tricks, seven came during ’92-93. He managed to score three in a game on all four teams he played for. Over a point-per-game for his career, it’s unbelievable that Mogilny hasn’t gotten the call from the Hall Of Fame. He is so deserving of the honor.

It’s ridiculous that Alexander The Great isn’t in. He was that guy before Alex Ovechkin. When you consider what he did internationally combined with his NHL career, it’s nuts that Mogilny is still waiting. But they can induct Guy Carbonneau because he was a checking center for the Canadiens and Stars. Nothing against Carbonneau. But he isn’t in the same stratosphere as Mogilny. Neither is Kevin Lowe, who won plenty of Cups with Edmonton and then was instrumental in helping the Rangers finally win.

I could go on. NHL Network host Jackie Redmond went on a mini rant about Mogilny on her Instagram earlier this week. It was one of the best things I’ve seen. Kudos to Jackie on making all the valid arguments for why Mogilny belongs. She is excellent at her job and always has interesting things to say with her daily Top Five. A must watch if you follow her.

There’s nothing else to add. I’ll always view Alexander Mogilny as one of the most exciting star players I ever saw. I’m glad I got to see him light it up with the Devils during ’00-01 at the old Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford off the old Exit 16W on I-95. It was a pleasure.

It’s time for them to right a wrong. And while they’re at it, add Stan Fischler as well. He deserves the honor. Maybe that’ll be my next hockey column.

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Nothing good about latest frustrating loss to Kraken for Shesterkin, Rangers

When you lose the way the Rangers did last night to the Kraken 3-2 in overtime, it’s frustrating. The 71-second postgame interview Chris Kreider gave at his locker indicated that disappointment.

He spoke of how they get away from what they’re doing in the first period. Second periods have been a problem. After controlling most of the play in a strong first where they held a 14-6 edge in shots even though they came out only tied thanks to Mika Zibanejad’s league-leading seventh power play goal which tied Connor McDavid, a lethargic second period saw the Kraken storm Igor Shesterkin’s net for 16 shots. They out-shot the Rangers 16-5.

If not for some brilliance from Shesterkin during the Kraken onslaught, the Rangers lose the game in regulation. He made some great saves to give them a chance. That included stoning Morgan Geekie and Daniel Sprong in succession on a break ins.

Both got open behind poor Rangers defense. Geekie’s opportunity followed Alexis Lafreniere getting taken off the puck inside the Kraken zone. All Shesterkin did was make the big glove save. Then, a quick up for Sprong as the Rangers were changing allowed him to break in and fire a pea at Shesterkin who again snapped it away to keep the game tied.

After facing only six shots in the first, Shesterkin was at his best turning away all 16 Kraken shots in a hectic middle stanza. How bad were the Rangers? They looked sleepless in Seattle. They were penalized three times during the nightmare period. That included a bench minor and two offensive zone minors on Vincent Trocheck and Artemi Panarin.

Fortunately, the penalty kill was the only team strength. They easily killed all three Seattle power plays. In fact, it was the very aggressive Blueshirts who created the better opportunities shorthanded. The best came when Kreider quickly skated into the Kraken zone and had his wrist shot clang off the far goalpost. That close to stealing the lead.

The penalty kill certainly gave them a lift. Why they couldn’t pick it up at full strength was puzzling. With the exception of a Lafreniere lead pass that sent Kaapo Kakko in on Jones where the rejuvenated journeyman stuck out the right pad to rob him of a goal, the Rangers did nothing at five-on-five.

As for Kakko, he made a strong move going forehand deke, but got beat by Jones. That’s how it goes for Kakko, who despite overall improvement remains stuck with three goals in his fourth season. He has seven points in 18 games. So does Lafreniere, who looks to have lost his confidence. How else do you explain the two goals and few shots he gets in Year Three. He was a number one overall pick.

Both Kakko and Lafreniere must improve their production for the team to be successful. It can’t keep being the same five or six top players. At least Filip Chytil has shown signs. He didn’t have a particularly strong night. He was caught on for all three Kraken goals against including Schultz’ winner with 1:21 left in overtime.

If not for the top power play which basically is coach Gerard Gallant’s recipe for most of the offense, they get shutout by Jones. A goalie who not long ago looked done. The former Sharks netminder has been rejuvenated this season. He made 28 saves on 30 shots to improve to 8-4-2 with a 2.34 GAA and .912 save percentage. Jones was the backup behind currently injured starter Philipp Grubauer.

The game didn’t start off well. The Kraken struck first less than three minutes in. Jared McCann had a Will Borgen point shot deflect off him by Shesterkin to put them ahead. Jordan Eberle set up the play.

In a period where they controlled most of the play, Jones made some good stops to keep the home side ahead. It wasn’t until Barclay Goodrow drew a second power play on Brandon Tanev (hooking) that the Rangers vaunted top unit was able to get even.

Earlier in the period, an uninspired two-minutes by the five-man unit of Trocheck, Mika Zibanejad, Kreider, Adam Fox and Trocheck only lead to one shot. A late set up for Zibanejad that didn’t get past Jones. If they’re going to play for two straight minutes, there needs to be more urgency. An issue that has plagued the team so far.

At least on the second power play, they moved the puck around well until a Trocheck soccer style pass for Kreider allowed him to slip the puck just by Adam Larsson for a Zibanejad finish into an open side for his team-leading 10th at 14:58. All five players touched the puck. Fox started it with a pass to Panarin. He then tried for a Trocheck redirect which he was able to kick towards Kreider, who set up the Zibanejad tying goal.

The second was a nightmare. Right away, Lafreniere was checked off the puck leading to a great chance for Geekie. But Shesterkin denied his bid. Then in came Sprong on a horrible broken coverage. But Shesterkin reached back to make the glove save.

When the Kraken weren’t peppering Shesterkin, they were on the power play due to undisciplined play from the Blueshirts. Whether it be too many men which Sammy Blais served, or a ridiculous trip Trocheck had on Matty Beniers, or even the lazy Panarin takedown of Yanni Gourde, it was ugly.

At least the penalty killing unit got it done. They went 4-for-4 only allowing three Kraken power play shots while attacking shorthanded. Kreider came close with a speed burst up the left wing. But his wrist shot drew iron. There were other looks due to Seattle sloppiness. On one, Vince Dunn recovered to break it up.

After getting out-shot 16-5, the Rangers blew a power play after Carson Soucy elbowed Fox in the offensive zone. A ridiculous penalty. But the first unit could do nothing. Believe it or not, the little used second unit came out for a rare shift. A Kakko retrieval up to Jacob Trouba over for a Lafreniere shot on Jones that he stopped. For some reason, he wasn’t credited with a shot. Jones made a good save too due to traffic.

Following a successful kill, the Kraken got into the Rangers zone and went to work. Andre Burakovsky and Jaden Schwartz combined to move the puck up top for Schultz. His point shot took a favorable bounce off of Braden Schneider to put Seattle back ahead 2-1 with 10:33 remaining.

There were a couple of scary moments during the game for Libor Hajek. Playing for a sixth consecutive game for Zac Jones, he twice let Kraken players get to the net where Shesterkin had to make tough saves. Hajek was better in the third, making a few subtle defensive plays. He was okay paired up with Schneider.

The question is when will Jones get back in. It seems like he’s been the scapegoat for one mistake. Not a lot of trust from the coaching staff. What would you expect when Lafreniere looks lost and Kakko had less than 13 minutes of ice time on Thursday? Chytil also had similar even though it wasn’t his best game.

A Zibanejad bad tripping minor in the offensive zone nearly cost the Rangers a point. Beniers hit his second goalpost when his shot rang off the crossbar. Fortunately, it didn’t go in. Otherwise, that lazy penalty with 7:19 left would’ve been more discussed. Especially from the top forward this team has.

Although he didn’t play a lot, Julien Gauthier made the most of his 10 shifts (7:09). As usual, his hustle lead to another bad penalty from Soucy. When Gauthier drove towards the Seattle net, Soucy hooked him to hand the Rangers their fourth power play with 2:56 remaining.

This was it. Do or die. After Jones made one good save on a tricky shot, finally the Rangers showed some urgency. Rather than handle the puck like a grenade with extra passes, they were simplistic. Fox took a low wrist shot with Trocheck in the vicinity and Goodrow in front. Trocheck found a loose puck and banged it in for a huge tying power play goal with 1:54 left. Of his six goals, four have come on the power play.

Goodrow was the extra attacker after Gallant finally lifted Shesterkin for a six-on-four. He picked up a secondary helper and was the net front presence on Trocheck’s goal that forced overtime.

In OT, there was a baffling decision by Gallant that had people talking. He had Goodrow with Jimmy Vesey and Trouba for a three-on-three shift. If the point was to have Goodrow win a face-off and Trouba deliver a check, fine. But why is Vesey being overused? Why is he getting more minutes (15:38) than Chytil, Kakko or Lafreniere? Even the Devils didn’t use him like that last year.

Luckily, Gallant got away with it. At the last split second on a Kraken rush, Vesey recovered. It definitely raised some eyebrows. Vesey has worked hard and been a solid penalty killer with a shorthanded goal. But he’s playing out of place on the top line. This is where they are. Until Vitaly Kravtsov gets back from his latest issue (toothache), there isn’t much balance. Playing both Vesey and Goodrow in the top six isn’t exciting anyone.

It’s kind of sad that Gauthier gets so little time despite busting his ass every shift. They talk up Blais and he barely plays. That Pavel Buchnevich trade just looks worse and worse. But Andrew Copp was here for a run. The salary cap error doesn’t help. But Chris Drury no longer looks like a genius when you think about the OFF-season he had.

The overtime goal Seattle scored was every bit to do with how putrid Panarin and Miller are. After Eberle went around Panarin, he wasted Miller to force Shesterkin into a tough save. The loose puck bounced to Schultz, who fired a shot from an angle that just beat an incensed Shesterkin short side for the winner at 3:39.

While it’s easy to say he should have had it, maybe if Miller stayed on his feet and didn’t screen his own goalie, Shesterkin makes the save. Miller continues to log big minutes (24:35). But his inconsistent defensive play remains an issue. He was minus-two in the game.

Partner Trouba played much better finishing even with three shots, five attempts, four hits and two blocked shots over 21:36. His game is coming back. The same cannot be echoed for Miller, who’s never held accountable. Why shouldn’t he sit out a game for Jones? They are afraid to do it due to the negative PR.

They only got the point due to Shesterkin and the top unit connecting late. Once again, they couldn’t score at even strength finishing 0 for 22 shots. The Kraken managed to get 3 on 29 to earn their ninth win. They’re much improved. The same cannot be echoed for the Blueshirts, who are going backwards.

It is very frustrating to watch them. The over passing and turnovers combined with lazy penalties are hard on the eyes. At least the power play did their part. So did Shesterkin, who finished with 29 saves on 32 shots. He showed his frustration by banging the wall near the locker room. Gotta be careful. They can’t afford to lose him for a stretch.

Next up are the Sharks late tomorrow night at 10:30 EST. They don’t win a lot. But Erik Karlsson continues his return to elite status. His goal and three assists came in a 7-4 loss to the Red Wings last night. He’s up to 11 goals and 28 points which pace all defensemen. The 28 points are now tied for second in scoring with Leon Draisaitl behind league leader Connor McDavid.

The Rangers already lost once to the Sharks. It was some Karlsson overtime magic that gave David Quinn his first win over his former team at MSG. Another example of a lost point. They need two points on Saturday. The competition picks up out West with the Kings next Tuesday.

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Fox’s star shines brightly in Rangers win over Coyotes on Broadway

When you’re struggling to get out of a slump, sometimes you need your best player to life everyone up. Adam Fox is that star who shines brightly on Broadway. He continued his remarkable play with a goal and assist to highlight a much needed Rangers 4-1 win over the Coyotes.

Now 24, Fox looks to be chasing another Norris Trophy. Although it’s early in the season, he’s been brilliant despite the 8-6-3 record. After playing over 29 minutes in a frustrating one-goal loss at Nashville, all he did was log over 26 minutes and score a big goal that followed up a gift to Barclay Goodrow late in the second period.

The two goals came 78 seconds apart to break open a scoreless game. Buoyed by the penalty kill that forced Arizona backup Connor Ingram into three tough shorthanded saves, the Rangers finally raised their energy. It had been severely lacking in a flat first period that saw the ‘Yotes out-shoot them 17-4. At one point, Arizona lead in shots 12-1.

Unable to beat Ingram in a more inspired second, they got an early Thanksgiving dessert from the backup goalie. On a risky back pass by his own defenseman Juuso Valimaki that caught him by surprise, Ingram panicked and gave away the puck right to Goodrow for an easy goal into an open side at 15:05.

That misplay opened things up. On an Artemi Panarin forecheck, he passed back for a cutting Filip Chytil. His first attempt was blocked. Then, his second deflected right out to a pinching Fox, who drove home his fifth to suddenly make it 2-0 with 3:37 left.

It was the kind of skilled play fans come to expect from Fox. A player who it’s hard to believe went 66th overall in the third round of the 2016 Draft to Calgary. It’s a good thing he wanted NYC. He had no intention of signing with the Flames or the Hurricanes. That allowed the Rangers to steak him for two conditional second picks nobody’s ever heard of.

Let’s face it. It’s not like the Rangers could produce this kind of superstar player on their own. They haven’t seen the likes of such a stud defenseman since Brian Leetch. By posting a goal and assist in the team’s 17th game, Fox is up to 19 points (5-14-19) so far. Last season, he had 74 (11-63-74) in 78 games.

The way he’s going, it looks like Fox has a good chance of going over a point-per-game. Something a New York Rangers defenseman hasn’t done since Leetch in ’95-96. The greatest defenseman in franchise history scored 15 goals and tallied 70 assists for 85 points in 82 games that season. Previously, it was Sergei Zubov who lead the club in assists (77) and points (89) during their Stanley Cup season in ’93-94.

After going without a point versus the Flyers on Nov. 1, Fox has caught fire with 10 points (3-7-10) over a current six-game point streak. At least after playing a combined 55 minutes this weekend, the Rangers’ most valuable skater can get a few days of rest before they embark on a four-game Western swing. They will travel to Seattle to face the improved Kraken on Thursday before making stops in San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim between 11/17 to 11/23.

Imagine where they’d be without him. Nobody else on the blue line is even in the same stratosphere as Fox. It’s Foxy returns for the bright American star who’ll be competing with Cale Makar, the reborn Erik Karlsson and possibly the surprising Hampus Lindholm of the unbelievable Bruins. As brilliant as Karlsson has been for the Sharks, you have to think Fox will pass him with Makar probably catching up.

Of course, none of this stuff matters. What does is that the Blueshirts got in the ‘W’ column. They didn’t play close to their best game against a Coyotes team who also played the night before. They lost to the red hot Devils 4-2. The Devils have won nine in a row. Hasan has you covered there.

It’s more important for the Rangers to build on this win. For over 35 minutes, nothing happened of note against the Coyotes. A team that plays an honest game built on a surprising number three ranked power play. They move the puck quickly and look for shots with traffic in front. A more simplistic approach than the home team.

If not for Igor Shesterkin, it could’ve been a different result. He more than held his own in a lopsided first period. It was the more aggressive Coyotes who had better skating legs and carried the play early. Shesterkin came up large on an abbreviated five-on-three that lasted a dozen seconds. He really was the difference in stopping all 17 shots including a few tough ones on the consecutive Arizona power plays.

Although I questioned Gerard Gallant going with Jaro Halak on Saturday night and holding out Shesterkin for the second game, that proved to be the right decision. They sure didn’t lose in Nashville due to Halak. That was already covered. He was just unlucky again. Yet you have some yo-yo’s who blame him. Do yourselves a favor and watch with your eyes open.

If there was a disappointing aspect, it was Gallant’s refusal to bench K’Andre Miller. He hasn’t played close to good enough. Honestly, he deserved to sit after his latest bad game. Instead, the Rangers PR face continues to escape unpunished.

Instead, Zac Jones sat for a third consecutive game in favor of Libor Hajek. Why is anyone’s guess. They still use Jacob Trouba on the second power play. It’s moot the way Gallant relies on the top unit. He better hope they don’t run out of gas by next March. They sure get a lot of minutes. The problem is every player except the defense optional Panarin plays penalty kill. That’s one way to run your top players into the ground.

While everyone realizes the importance of making up for some bad losses by starting to bank points which they should have the opportunity to do on the road trip, Turk must avoid over-playing the stars. It’s not even the quarter mark. Use common sense. He was able to get away with mostly shortening the bench to three lines for most of the third due to the off days.

It helped matters that Fox again helped set up a Chris Kreider power play goal less than give minutes into the third which sealed the victory. Kaapo Kakko drew a tripping minor on Nick Bjugstad. Even though it was again the third line who did the grunt work, out came the first unit.

They had the puck for almost the entirety of the third power play. After an Arizona clear down ice, they got it set up. With time growing short, Fox finally made a good pass in the left circle for Mika Zibanejad. He then made an even better play, sending a shot pass towards Kreider that took a funny carom off the shaft of his stick past Ingram top shelf for the beautiful power play goal.

All Kreider could do was chuckle. He obviously didn’t get the part of the blade on it that he wanted. But it wound up looking like he took a half swing like in baseball and got rewarded with a base hit. It gave him goals in three of his last four games. Following an off night against the Preds, he picked up his 10th point over the last nine games. Ever since he said they’d start going in, they have.

In what was a penalty marred game where the refs handed out Zibanejad a ridiculous interference minor for banging into Ingram after he made a save outside the paint where the Rangers center had nowhere to go, they had a make-up call with five seconds left in the second for a phantom trip on Nick Ritchie. That’s how it was called. When you have both coaches shaking their heads and one laughing, you know it wasn’t a good night for the stripes.

The linesmen also missed an offside on a Coyotes entry. Even Sam Rosen pointed it out during the broadcast on MSG. Good thing nothing happened during the ‘Yotes zone time. It’s astonishing how frequently they miss it. No wonder you have offsides coach’s challenges. The league has a two referee system with two linesmen, but have to cover their own asses. It’s more and more like the NFL every day.

With his team ahead by three, Ryan Lindgren took down Christian Fischer behind the Rangers net. Of course, he protested because no player ever thinks they committed a penalty. It was an obvious hooking minor.

After some real struggles with their last three in which it was the Rangers penalty killers who generated better shorthanded opportunities due to their aggressive puck pursuit, the Coyotes finally made it count.

With time winding down, Travis Boyd worked the puck over to Ritchie. He then made a nice pass across for an open Clayton Keller, who made no mistake snapping a wrist shot up top with a slow recovering Shesterkin still down. He didn’t look right on the goal. He previously had skated over to the bench during a stoppage. Hopefully, it’s nothing too serious. He stayed in the game.

However, the Coyotes took a bad penalty only 30 seconds later. Rookie forward Mattias Maccelli came up and caught Kreider with a high stick to go off for two minutes. Although they didn’t score on the man-advantage, the momentum from it allowed the Rangers to put the game away.

After the penalty expired, Gallant actually sent out Ryan Carpenter. Playing for the first time in three games, he was able to redirect a Braden Schneider point shot by Ingram for his first goal of the season. It came with 8:17 remaining. That restored the three-goal lead.

As tough as I’ve been on Carpenter who’s an hard-working player that can take face-offs and kill penalties, there’s nothing wrong with having him as an extra forward. That’s likely what he’ll be if Vitaly Kravtsov can recover from the stomach flu. Good for Carpenter. He only played 7:48 including 39 seconds on the penalty kill and the last few on the final power play. It’s nice to see him get rewarded.

Although it wasn’t a Picasso or Renoir, they’ll take it. It’s the final home game until after Thanksgiving. The Oilers will visit on Saturday, Nov. 26 followed by those Devils on Monday the 28th. Those should be good tests.

Hopefully by then, they’ll be playing better. It really shouldn’t be any worse than taking three out of four on the upcoming road trip. All four games are winnable. But expect it to be competitive. Especially in Seattle, San Jose and LA.

They can thank both Fox and Shesterkin for getting the victory tonight. It wasn’t as easy as the final score indicated. Finally a few days off. Enjoy the week.

THEEE STARS OF GAME

3rd 🌟 Barclay Goodrow, NYR goal (4th), 5-10 on draws, +2 in 16:10 incl. 5:39 shorthanded

2nd 🌟 🤩 Igor Shesterkin, NYR 31 saves on 32 shots incl. 17/17 in 1st, 22/22 ES & 7/8 SH

1st 🌟 🤩 ⭐️ Adam Fox, NYR goal (5th) plus 🍎, 2 SOG, +1 in 26:43 incl. 12:24 on special teams

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