Kravtsov return to KHL a disaster

When Vitali Kravtsov decided to leave Hartford and go home to play with Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL, it was hopeful that the Rangers 2018 first round pick could still develop while being in a more comfortable setting.

Instead, the 19-year old Russian the team took with the ninth pick finds himself assigned to the VHL by Traktor. That’s the minor league affiliate of the KHL.

It hasn’t gone well for Kravtsov, who got only one total shift in his last two games with Traktor. The same KHL team he excelled with last year when he produced eight goals and 13 assists totaling 21 points in 50 games. He added two assists in four playoff games.

After recording only one assist in only five games for the Wolf Pack, Kravtsov packed up and left. He also deleted all his Rangers photos on his Instagram account. Something that got a lot of attention. It definitely wasn’t mature and gave people a reason to be concerned.

They thought he was ready to come over and develop. But Kravtsov probably thought he’d be handed a spot on the big club. It didn’t happen due to a numbers crunch. Even Filip Chytil went down to Hartford following a disappointing training camp. However, he handled himself like a pro and produced to get the call back up. Having played for the Pack before during his first pro year, that experience helped.

For Kravtsov, he proved he wasn’t quite ready to play in North America. Or work. Even if I thought he showed some promise during preseason, it was only preseason. The organization had to do what they thought was right for his long-term development. They couldn’t have expected Kravtsov to get scratched and then have his ice time reduced due to not adjusting to the North American style. Or to tap out.

That’s what he did. While the Rangers drew criticism for how Kravtsov was handled, maybe it’s time to start looking at the player they drafted. He showed immaturity by deleting photos on his Instagram. He went home and probably thought it would go better. It hasn’t. He hasn’t played well. In 11 games for Traktor, he has two goals and an assist with a minus-four.

Now, Kravtsov has been sent down to play in the VHL. Something MSG analyst Steve Valiquette referred to as “playing hockey on the moon.” That’s about as critical as Valiquette will be. He should know. He spent two years playing in Russia. Yikes.

So, is it time to panic? I don’t know. Obviously, Kravtsov needs to get his bleep in gear. Right now, it’s looking like a wasted year of development. Before you criticize, look how poorly the Rangers handled Lias Andersson his first year. Now, it’s two years later and he’s been up and down with Hartford after hardly playing in the 17 games with the big club. Andersson had two goals and an assist last night in a win over Binghamton. But he also took two penalties including a bad one in the third. A friend went and reported back.

Was taking Kravtsov a mistake? That’s too early to tell. There’s still time for him to salvage the season. But the KHL ends much earlier and Traktor isn’t good. The Rangers do have the option to recall Kravtsov if they want. But that isn’t expected until the KHL season concludes.

For now, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

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Rumor: Taylor Hall to the Avalanche

Normally, I don’t put too much stock in rumors. However, it seems likely that Taylor Hall has played his last home game for the Devils. If that truly is the case, the former 2017-18 Hart Trophy winner at least scored on the power play in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Blackhawks.

The latest rumor has the potential 2020 unrestricted free agent scoring forward landing in Colorado. If it happens, it would strengthen an already very good team led by Nathan MacKinnon that is looking to challenge for the Stanley Cup.

Tyler Kelley was correct on the Devils trading for and signing Nikita Gusev last summer. We’ll see if he nails this one as well. Chris Wassel I know quite well. He is reputable and usually has good sources.

If it does come to fruition, what will the Devils get back in return for Hall? Is recent 2019 Avalanche fourth pick Bowen Byram a possibility? The highly rated 18-year old defense prospect has three goals and 14 assists in 26 games this season. In ’18-19, he posted 26 goals and 45 assists totaling 71 points to break out for the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Byram added 26 points (8-18-26) in 22 playoff games.

A guy like Hall should bring back a good return. Even with him off to a slow start in the goal department with only 5 to go with 18 helpers for 23 points on a low scoring Devils team, that still leads them in points. If he does indeed move to a contender such as Colorado, it could be just what he needs. He’s 28 and his average cap hit is $6 million this season.

Following an injury riddled ’18-19 that limited him to 33 games where he still produced 37 points (11-26-37), it’s been a struggle to finish for the Calgary native. He’s heard the boos at home games and vented to reporters about it which definitely didn’t sit well with fans. It’s astonishing that only a year and a half ago, he carried the team to the postseason with 93 points (39-54-93) to become the first New Jersey Devil to win league MVP. Ironically, he edged out MacKinnon in a very close vote.

Imagine if they wind up playing together in Colorado with Mikko Rantanen. Colorado team captain Gabriel Landeskog just returned after missing over a month. He scored a goal in his first game back. A one goal win at Montreal.

The Avalanche are looking for secondary scoring. If they can add Hall to an improved supporting cast that features Nazem Kadri, Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky, they certainly will be tough to beat next Spring. Featuring Calder favorite Cale Makar on the blueline and Philipp Grubauer in net, Colorado would be all in.

As for the Devils, who currently sit in last place with 23 points, which is only more than lowly Detroit, it looks like another rebuild for a team that replaced John Hynes with interim coach Alain Nasreddine. PK Subban has been a colossal bust so far who seems more visible on Twitter promoting crap while his play for the team has been brutal. Wayne Simmonds isn’t scoring consistently. Neither is top pick Jack Hughes, who recently returned from a lower body injury after blocking a shot. Sami Vatanen will play tonight which is good news.

The thing is both Vatanen and Simmonds also could be moved since they’re in the last year of their contracts. But moving on from Hall is huge. GM Ray Shero must get it right. Otherwise, more New Jersey fans will lose faith completely.

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Tumultuous week leads only to more excuses and losing

By now the firing of former Devils coach John Hynes is old news, but I haven’t blogged since then in part due to general apathy of the season at this point, and in part because I wanted to see an actual game or two under interim coach Alain Nasreddine before even starting to draw any conclusions.  It’s tempting to say Nasreddine is little more than Hynes’ mini-me, having served on his staffs both at the NHL and AHL level for a decade now coaching the defense/PK, and I didn’t want him as the interim choice for that reason (and the fact the defensemen haven’t progressed on his watch) – even if I also didn’t want to blindly assume it’s just going to be the same failed ‘system’ with a different voice.  I would have preferred guys like Claude Noel or Peter Horachek, who have been coaches in the league before and both currently employed by the team to serve as the interim, and Horachek did take Nasreddine’s spot in the assistant’s chair.

Still, after watching a good chunk of the Devils’ blown lead against Vegas on Tuesday when Nasreddine took over in the middle of a back-to-back, and their ill-fated shootout loss last night my fears are slowly coming to life…that the pick of Nasreddine was more of a ‘well maybe we need a new voice now, but goshdarn it I’m going to force them to make the same system work!’ pick by GM Ray Shero.  While Shero professed to have other options, he also made it clear Nasreddine was going to get a long look as the head guy.  Granted I like that he tacitly took the players to task during his press conference on Tuesday by saying nobody was playing up to expectations, but it also seemed like he was just angry their performance made him fire his hand-picked buddy rather than accepting that both the coach and the system were not working.

Now the coach is finally out but this is still the same ol’ system of nothing…defensemen taking wild chances and not knowing where to cover, forwards getting too pass-happy and strange decisions like benching the dynamic Nikita Gusev for the 3-on-3 OT.  Gusev may have his issues 5-on-5, but you want a guy like that in open ice with space to work.  Especially after Gusev and Sami Vatanen both got assists on the Devils’ lone goal of the night, a power play tally by Taylor Hall, just the fifth of the season for the free agent to be.  Yes I’m aware with a coaching change things won’t happen overnight but these first two games seemingly confirm my pre-bias against Nasreddine as an interim hire – or really as any kind of staff retention at all.

Sure, they’re playing more up-tempo than they have recently…that’s just reverting back to what failed early in the season as opposed to the low-event and low-IQ hockey they’d turtled into lately.  Playing more up-tempo might be more asthetically pleasing but it isn’t going to do much results-wise if your defense is just going to make the same amateur mistakes and the forwards plus PK Subban are going to have the same dissapointing production.  Subban is now up to sixteen straight games without a point, I feel like starting one of those internet memes like when Scott Gomez didn’t score a goal for over a year or Cory Schneider didn’t have a win for over a year.  What’s even scarier is Subban doesn’t have a power play point for the ENTIRE season.  I was floored when I heard that stat the other day.  This is a guy who as recently as two years ago had five goals and twenty-five points on the PP.

Even getting a PP goal last night, the Devils’ PP’s were not impressive on the whole either.  Perhaps the only reason we got off to a good start last night was the Blackhawks took three straight early penalties.  Though our first two PP’s were the usual mix of inept zone entries and blocked shots finally they found an opening to score on the third one.  Unfortunately two of the three guys who combined for that goal were nowhere to be found in the three-on-three OT – Gusev with the aformentioned benching and Vatanen after YET ANOTHER upper-body injury when he got hit in the head with a puck late in last night’s game.  Vatanen’s a good little player, and seemingly a happy-go-lucky personality but unfortunately since being brutally taken out by Nikita Kucherov during the 2018 playoffs the concussion and injury issues have only multiplied.

What was comical about last night was how desperate the team is for something – anything to build off, since Hall actually cited last night’s game where the team struggled to generate anything for the better part of the last two periods as a positive.

Yeah maybe if we weren’t playing a mediocre team on a back-to-back.  Funny how the Devils always look like the team playing the rear end of a back-to-back when playing other teams on their back end of games.  I saw someone say last night this was the eighth time the Devils have played another team on their second back-to-back game.  Doesn’t seem like it since we haven’t taken advantage either of the last two games when both Vegas and Chicago played us and looked like the fresher team late.  If Nasreddine was Jacques Lemaire circa 2010 he’d be coming in saying the players were out of shape and lost the ability to play the game.

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go last night, ironically I probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the coaching change and the curiosity over how the team would play.  I’m aware it takes a while to break bad habits…it took Lemaire eight games to start to turn the worm from the Johnny Mac disaster.  I just have no evidence Nasreddine has the ability to improve things or the willingness to change too much to really get excited about much anymore.  Our new coach bump has led to more of the same ol’ same ol’ giving up three goals in the third period against Vegas on Tuesday, followed by a desultory performance against a mediocre Blackhawks team.  It would have been nice to see a win, even an ugly one but unfortunately after playing well enough to earn the third star in regulation (including a couple of breakaway stops), Mackenzie Blackwood was abused in the shootout by the Blackhawks.  Despite both Gusev and rookie Jesper Boqvist scoring on the Devils’ first two shots of the shootout, three straight misses by Hall, Kyle Palmeri and the returning Jack Hughes (after missing three games due to injury) was enough to doom the Devils to defeat.

Next up on the docket for the team is a tough four-game road trip beginning in Nashville with our own travel back-to-back and progressing through Dallas, Colorado and Arizona next week.  Like Ken Daneyko would say on any Devils telecast…OH BOY.

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Game #28: Canadiens get retribution, disappointing loss for Rangers

AP Photo credit Matt Campbell via Canadian Press

Anytime you lose a game late, it sucks. Especially the way the Rangers did. Nate Thompson’s rebound goal past Alexandar Georgiev with 1:07 left in regulation gave the Canadiens retribution for that wild and crazy 6-5 home loss 13 days ago.

This time, Montreal came out on the right side by lulling the Blueshirts to sleep in a 2-1 win at what had to be a bored and sleepy Madison Square Garden. I’m not going to make that as an excuse. Just because Claude Julien had his team sit back and pounce at the right moment doesn’t excuse the younger Blueshirts from not playing smarter and getting the puck in deep.

It’s another lesson learned. As disappointing as it is to lose a game that late in regulation to a similar team that’s been struggling, these are the moments where we will learn more about the roster. I am curious to see how they respond on my birthday Sunday evening at Vegas. You know that won’t be easy. And I doubt I’ll be around.

I am going to be honest here. Watching how the third period of a tie game with good goaltending from both Carey Price and Georgiev materialized, it was painfully obvious that it was going to end bad for our team. They aren’t as polished or experienced like the Habs, who have higher expectations. By sitting back and shutting off the neutral zone, they were patiently waiting for that big mistake to come.

Prior to Thompson cashing in on a rebound, there were other mistakes made. The younger Rangers took too many high risks on fancy passes rather being more deliberate. This was always going to be a tougher, tighter checking game than the one they played up north. Especially with both teams coming off games on Thursday.

So while it hurt to see them lose in the awful fashion they did, I understood why. I knew it was coming. Sometimes, you wish you could be wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. I’m not a gambler like my Rangers friend Sean. But I would’ve took the Habs and the under. It was just a hunch they’d be out for redemption and make it a closely fought game.

David Quinn opted to give Georgiev another start. Originally, it was supposed to be Henrik Lundqvist. First, it sounded like he was ill. Then, Quinn told the media he could’ve played. But decided to stick with the hot hand. So, Georgiev got the rare opportunity to go in both ends of a back-to-back. He acquitted himself well. Following a mammoth 45 save effort to carry the team to a undeserved win over Columbus, he was again solid throughout making 31 saves. It was a hard luck loss.

You had to figure a rested Price would be out for a little redemption himself after that stinker in the first meeting. He was much better finishing with a more Price like 29 saves on 30 shots. It’s what you figured would happen. I don’t blame the Canadiens for playing more close to the vest. When you’ve lost as many games recently as they have, you gotta do whatever it takes. That made it two wins over their last three. They also beat the Islanders.

This was one of those games they could’ve won. It just didn’t happen. I’m not going to go nuts over it. I’ll just give you my input on the game, which was not the most fun to watch. I’ll bet it wasn’t great to be at live either for my father, brother and his friend. What are you gonna do?

The good thing is they have another game in less than 48 hours. That’s a challenging part of the schedule with the next four games all on the road starting in Vegas followed by LA, San Jose and Arizona. I feel like two of those are winnable. Let’s see how they do in a rematch at a very lively environment at T-Mobile Arena on Sunday.

If there was one positive from the loss, it was that the game was mostly played at five-on-five. Only three penalties were called with two on the Habs (Ben Chiarot) and one on the Rangers (Filip Chytil). All in the second period. Otherwise, this was a fast played game with few whistles. If only more were like that. Even if I didn’t care for how tactical it became.

In the first period, Montreal held a slight edge in shots 11-8. But Georgiev carried over his hot play by continuing to be a brick wall. So too was Price, who has a history of turning it on in December. This was his second straight game he was strong in. He allowed two goals to the Isles in a game they dominated. His only mistake was getting beaten cleanly by that astonishing sniper Brendan Smith. Can anyone believe the move he pulled off? That’s hockey!

In a scoreless game midway through the first, a poor line change would prove costly. With Marc Staal up high and Tony DeAngelo down low, Greg McKegg decided to go for a change with the Habs in transition. It was the wrong time to go to the bench. By the time Artemi Panarin got on the ice, Tomas Tatar passed for Phillip Danault, who was able to pass down low for a perfect Brendan Gallagher tip in for his team-leading 13th at 10:37.

No. It wasn’t Staal’s fault as one misinformed reporter tried to assert when asking Quinn during the postgame. God almighty. If these people actually paid closer attention like Joe Micheletti did by pointing out McKegg’s mistake, they’d be good at their jobs. I get that Staal was back for his first game in a month. And yes. He struggled in the first with partner Tony DeAngelo. That was expected. But most want to pin everything on him.

The Habs also hit a goalpost on another good shift with Staal and DeAngelo out there. Eventually, Staal settled down and felt more comfortable as the game went on. For now, he’s got a secure spot with a knee sprain keeping 21-year old rookie Libor Hajek out at least three weeks. Don’t expect to see him until the next decade. Hard to fathom that we’re only 27 full days away from a New Year.

It was during the early portion of the second that something unreal occurred. After Sam Rosen unveiled a great Rangers history that highlighted the original Bread Line of forgotten legends Frank Boucher, Bill and Bun Cook combining for 10 points on Dec. 6, 1932, a Habs misplay allowed Smith to get behind the defense for a breakaway. This magic moment saw the converted forward move in on Price with speed, deke and score on a beautiful backhand top cheese. He sure deserves it and the funny goal celly be did.

Brendan Lemieux did a nice imitation of Smith’s tongue on the Rangers bench. That black eye won’t go away from his classic scrap with Tom Wilson. As it turned out, that was the highlight of the night. I’m happy for Smith because he’s been such a great team guy. He also got moved up to the third line by Quinn in the third period due to more mystifying shifts from Pavel Buchnevich. Did he even play?

After even strength ruled the first half of the game, you had three instances where there were power plays. The Rangers got two in a row after a great Georgiev point blank stop robbed Artturi Lehkonen of a sure goal. Brett Howden helped out Georgie on the rebound. I thought for sure it was going to be a goal. It was an outstanding save by a young netminder, whose confidence is growing.

On two consecutive power plays due to bad minors taken by Chiarot, the Rangers had enough looks. They just couldn’t get one of their seven shots past Price, who was at his best denying Chris Kreider. Kreider remains stuck on six goals. A crazy thought in a contract year. He must be beyond frustrated. He has to turn it around.

In the third, Quinn mixed up his lines. With Smith moved up to the third line with a under the weather Ryan Strome and Buchnevich in the doghouse on the fourth line, the second-year coach decided to stick Panarin with Mika Zibanejad and Kaapo Kakko. Even though Panarin created scoring chances for his line and matching defensemen, they were unable to break through on Price. Quinn did hint following the game that he’d like to see more of the trio.

I was most disappointed in Kakko, whose reluctance to shoot the puck was frustrating. Even Micheletti critiqued the team for passing up wide open shots earlier. It was Kakko, who overpassed when he got a great look due to Panarin, who’s a puck wizard. Even when he doesn’t hit the score sheet, it’s not from lack of creativity or effort. He brings it. This is the best Ranger they’ve had since Jaromir Jagr.

The Montreal winner came off what else but a Ranger failure to get the puck deep. A bad pass from Ryan Lindgren to Lemieux created the Canadiens transition they were looking for. It eventually led to Nick Suzuki setting up a quick low shot from Nick Cousins that got blocked. With Georgiev anticipating the shot and his defense scrambling, it made it an easy put away for Thompson at 18:53.

More annoying was watching every Blueshirt pass the puck instead of shoot like it was a hand grenade while searching for the equalizer. It was mind numbing. Kakko had another great opportunity to shoot. Instead, he tried a low percentage pass across that got intercepted and cleared.

Like Quinn echoed, that kind of game. That kind of night.

Battle Of 3 🌟

3rd 🌟 Nate Thompson, Canadiens (game-winner with 67 seconds left in regulation, 6 of 11 on draws, +1 in 12:22)

2nd 🌟 Alexandar Georgiev, Rangers (31 of 33 stops in hard luck defeat)

1st 🌟 Carey Price, Canadiens (29 saves including 7 of 7 shorthanded)

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Brendan Smith deserves his own thread

So, during the second period of tonight’s game against the Canadiens, this happened.

Yes sir! That would be noted sniper Brendan Smith beating Carey Price on a breakaway. And the beautiful thing is that he pulled off a great move. Who ever would’ve believed Brendan Smith could go deke and then backhand, top shelf on Price?!?!?!?!

It’s worth one more look:

Come get your jockstrap off the ice Mr. Price.

Kudos to Smith, who’s been invaluable to this team. The goal celly was laugh at loud funny. He whooped it up and stuck out his tongue headed towards the Rangers bench.

Good for him! He deserves it.

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Georgiev to get another start due to Lundqvist illness

When the Rangers host the Canadiens tonight at Madison Square Garden, it’ll be Alexandar Georgiev in net again. Originally, Henrik Lundqvist was supposed to get the start in the second game of a back-to-back. However, an illness will prevent him from playing.

In fact, during Georgiev’s tremendous 45 save performance last night in stealing a win at Columbus, the Rangers had an emergency backup. What if Georgiev had went down? Then it would’ve been a unique situation like we once saw happen with the Blackhawks during ’17-18 when Scott Foster appeared in a game and posted a perfect save percentage of 1.000 for stopping all seven shots he faced in a Chicago 6-2 win.

If not for Georgiev on Thursday night, the Rangers would’ve been blown out of Columbus all the way back home. They gave up 18 shots in both the first and third periods. It was the outstanding play of the second-year goalie who robbed Oliver Bjorkstrand point blank with over two minutes left, that allowed them to escape with a 3-2 victory.

As much as it was about Artemi Panarin, who scored the game-winner on a terrific one touch pass from Tony DeAngelo with under five minutes remaining in the second period, it was Alexandar The Great who stole the show. His team was outshot by a ridiculous 47-19 and out-attempted by an even crazier 85-39. But somehow won thanks to Georgiev.

So, the 23-year old makes his third start in four games against a struggling Montreal club, who will be out for revenge. How could anyone forget what happened almost two weeks ago at Bell Centre? For only the fourth time in franchise history, the Blueshirts came back from a 4-0 deficit to stun the Habs 6-5 in regulation. Montreal has lost nine of their last 10 including a 3-2 home loss last night to spoil Cayden Primeau’s debut. They did get points in three of the defeats due to reaching overtime. The only win came on Tuesday when they outplayed the Islanders defeat them 4-2 in Montreal.

Carey Price will make the start. You would think a rested Price against a tired Georgiev, who had to work extra hard, should be in Montreal’s favor. That’s why I’m leaning towards the Habs. Neither team plays great defensively. As we saw in the first meeting, a four goal lead wasn’t enough for the Canadiens to win against a classic Original Six rival they usually own up north.

Libor Hajek wore a knee brace following a sprained knee that limited him to in five minutes yesterday. It could finally be the return of Marc Staal. Well, it’s official. Staal will be playing for now.

Let the complaints begin. Hajek was definitely not as polished as fellow rookies Adam Fox or Ryan Lindgren, who actually form the most effective Rangers pair at even strength. That’s due to Brady Skjei continuing to have inconsistencies in his game even though he’s back with Jacob Trouba, whose play has steadied. It looks like DeAngelo and Staal are back together.

Who will the team recall as an extra D? Or are they okay due to Brendan Smith, who plays on the fourth line as a forward. He can always shift back to his natural position. He does it during the penalty kill. Smith has been invaluable. Who ever would’ve believed that?

Greg McKegg returns after missing six straight due to a lower body injury. As expected, Boo Nieves was assigned to Hartford. So, you’re probably looking at McKegg with Brett Howden and Smith as the fourth line.

Here’s a cool Rangers flashback to ’96. I remember this sequence too. It’s as good a three save sequence as I’ve ever seen. And by Mike Richter. ☺️

I believe that was that first round series they dropped the first two games at MSG, then went into Montreal and won both games. They wound up winning Game Five at home and finishing off the Habs in hostile territory to win that series in six. Richter was pretty amazing. It’s funny how some fans forget that part. I never have. He’s my favorite Rangers goalie.

That’s gonna do it for now. Game review later.

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Game #27: Prince George stands on his head, Panarin gets winner in return

Alexandar The Great: It was a show from goalie Alexandar Georgiev that allowed the Rangers to win Artemi Panarin’s return by a score of 3-2 over the Blue Jackets. AP Photo credit New York Rangers

Some pictures are worth a thousand words. If you look closely at the one above courtesy of the much improved Rangers Twitter, you can see all the players on both sides competing hard while Alexandar Georgiev makes one of his 45 saves. On this night which was special for Artemi Panarin, who returned to Columbus and received a video tribute along with some jeers and cheers, it was the virtuoso performance from Alexandar The Great that allowed the Rangers to hold on for a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jackets.

I told you earlier that I was probably not going to be around. It turned out that I caught the tying goal from Brendan Lemieux on the radio with eight seconds left in the first period. I didn’t catch much else. But my brother had the game on his phone via the MSG Go App. So, he kept me posted even though I knew the Blueshirts led 3-1 despite being badly outplayed and outshot. The shots wound up 47-19 Columbus. Sheer lunacy.

Based on the amount of tweets the Rangers used to highlight how good Georgiev was, it didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what happened. After shutting out the Devils the previous Saturday, he came back five days later and stole a game for his team that they didn’t deserve. Justin told me a few times that Columbus should’ve tied it. Prince George to the rescue. Good for him. He earned plenty of kudos from what I gathered on MSG. It’s about time.

Below, I’m going to look at some of Georgiev’s finest work that earned the Rangers the win.

Obviously, being able to quickly get across laterally for that rebound and kick out the puck that was ticketed for a goal is very impressive. Your basic two pad stack.

I like how he is able to reach over and athletically put the glove out in the right spot to make the big save. Just great instincts. That’s a goalie in the zone. We talk about it all the time. But just getting rid of Georgie would be a mistake. I know time is running out before he hits 60 starts. But they should keep playing him and rotate with Henrik Lundqvist. They don’t have to rush up Igor Shesterkin. Development is essential. So is patience.

You think his teammates don’t know what happened. Sometimes, you need your goalie to steal it. He did. Goalies get a lot of love for such great games.

The coolest thing I like from the interview is how calm he is. He is very composed and explains himself well. Did the shutout help? He basically said it did. It was a confidence boost. He talked about how he tries to stay calm despite facing that kind of pressure. It’s definitely not easy. It’s astonishing how any team could’ve signed Georgiev. The Rangers saw something and he’s certainly helped the team and himself. Benoit Allaire is the best in the business.

Let’s take a look at the three goal scorers. Plus a bit more insight.

Look at all the grunt work Mika Zibanejad did to set up Lemieux on this crucial tying goal with less than 10 seconds left in the first period. Ditto for Kaapo Kakko, who was looking for some love during the goal celebration. Great angle too giving fans a unique perspective of how tough hockey can be along the boards. Take the hit to make the play. Here’s a different view:

That’s just splendid work by Zibanejad to find Lemieux, who as usual put himself in the right area to get the shot off and score. That’s why he’s the Grate One. He’s got that extra ingredient that helps teams win.

This was a power play goal off the stick of Jacob Trouba. He’s starting to come around. He’s definitely the workhorse of the young blueline. This is a tough and physical player too, who doesn’t mind getting the jersey dirty. If he winds up around 40 points with double digit goals along with the hits and blocked shots, it says a lot about his character. I’ve been critical at times on him, but he’s a gamer. Here is what he said on getting a game that was stolen:

He’s right. Sometimes, you have to find different ways to win. Even if that means stealing two points. Something he referenced at one of Lundqvist’s recent performances. Having two good goalies can really help. Especially during a long winter. And given the nature of the defense which was down one man due to a knee sprain to Libor Hajek, Georgiev got it done.

You know how much this meant to Panarin. He still has some fans that love him. Plus he wound up getting the game-winner on a well executed play.

Brett Howden started that play in the corner. Then that man Tony DeAngelo got the puck over to a wide open Bread Man for a quick one-timer and a bang for number 13 late in the second period. Keep criticizing Tony Dee. He’ll just keep putting up points by making brilliant passes like that to put the frauds in their place. Here’s some old but friendly advice. Duck and cover!

Panarin gets it. He understands the situation. Even if there were some boos mixed in. I see him as just a soft spoken and nice superstar. I wish he spoke more English. He’d be a great player to market. Plus he’s Russian. You got enough Russians living in NYC. Like out here or in Brighton Beach. Очень хорошо Артеми!

Speaking of great replays, have a look at this beautiful ice level view of Seth Jones going around Pavel Buchnevich to take the puck to the tin and beat Georgiev to cut it to 3-2. Terrific stuff. And the goal horn to boot.

I read that Joe Micheletti blamed Buchnevich for the goal. Well, it was one on one and he lost Jones. So, not much disagreement. As I’ve said regarding Buch, defense isn’t his strong suit. He’s gotta put up the points. He’s in a slump.

That’s the essence and embodiment of hockey. It’s a physical sport. Nothing dirty here either. Just two players competing hard along the boards during a check. Hockey is passionate. That’s what fans love. It’s a battle.

A nice video montage of Panarin doing what he does best. His two years in Columbus were great. I love the Bread Man nickname. It’s him. I really have a new appreciation for how special the diminutive left wing is. He’s very smart and knows how to get open while also creating space for teammates. This is a player who has a high IQ. Had he entered the league sooner, could he have been a Hall of Fame superstar like some of the other great Russian hockey players we’ve seen? I don’t see why not.

Kudos to the Columbus Blue Jackets organization on their recognition of what John Davidson meant to the current construct of the franchise. He made them better in his seven years spent as Team President of Hockey Operations. JD is a great man! Love the song selection too. Foreigner’s “Double Vision.”

It wouldn’t be complete without some thoughts from the always interesting former Rangers coach John Tortorella. Torts doesn’t pull any punches. He clearly felt the Blue Jackets beat themselves. He’s probably not wrong. They outshot the Rangers badly, but gave up a goal in the last eight seconds and also cost themselves on a bad line change which explains why Panarin was so open for the game decider.

When you lose the talent they lost in Panarin, Matt Duchene and even Ryan Dzingel, it hurts. There’s no margin for error. Joonas Korpisalo actually has played better than Sergei Bobrovsky. Go figure. They’re probably going to finish seventh due to not having enough in a ultra competitive division. They certainly compete hard for Torts. I wonder how much longer he’ll stick around.

Battle Of Hudson 3 🌟

3rd 🌟 Brendan Lemieux, Rangers (5th of season at 19:52 of 1st tied score, 3 hits and a blocked shot in 15:26)

2nd 🌟 Artemi Panarin, Rangers (team leading 13th for game-winner, 5 shots in 8 attempts, 2 takeaways, +1 in 19:41)

1st 🌟 Alexandar Georgiev, Rangers (45 saves on 47 shots including 17 of 18 in a lopsided 3rd)

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Panarin returns to Columbus tonight, Georgiev back in net, DeAngelo stuff and Kravtsov

Tonight, the Rangers visit the Blue Jackets in Columbus at 7 PM. It’s the big return of Artemi Panarin to a franchise he helped finally reach the second round last Spring.

During that postseason, he paced them in scoring with 11 points (5-6-11) over 10 games. It was highlighted by the sweep of President’s Trophy winner Tampa Bay. They lost to the Bruins in six games the next round.

Even though he only spent two years with Columbus, the electrifying Panarin was spectacular. After coming over from the Blackhawks in a trade for Brandon Saad and spare pieces, the playmaking Russian forward proved he didn’t need Patrick Kane to produce some magic. In two seasons, he had 55 goals, 114 assists and totaled 169 points in 160 games.

That included posting a career best 87 points, 28 goals and 59 assists in ’18-19. Even though he left to sign with the Rangers where he’s continued to perform at a very high level where his 33 points (12-21-33) pace his new team, Panarin should get a warm reception from appreciative fans in Columbus. He brought the franchise excitement and helped them finally conquer their first round demons.

You can be sure a nice video tribute will be shown at some point. Usually, it’s during a stoppage in the first period. Had he been there longer, who knows what kind of impact he could’ve had for former coach John Tortorella’s club. Without the Bread Man and former franchise goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, they’ve been up and down. They enter play in seventh place in the Metro Division with a 11-12-4 record for 26 points. The Rangers come in 13-10-3 with 29 points to rank sixth in the division. It’s an uphill climb for both teams due to the Caps, Islanders, Flyers, Hurricanes and Pens.

The goalie match-up for later is Alexandar Georgiev versus Joonas Korpisalo. The replacement for Bobrovsky (signed with Panthers) has been an iron man under Tortorella. He’s already played 21 games and is responsible for all 11 of their wins. Following a slow start, Korpisalo is 6-4-0 with a 2.42 GAA and .915 save percentage over his last 10 games. For the season, he’s 11-9-1 with a 2.84 GAA, .902 save percentage and a shutout. Elvis Merzlikins is the backup, who’s winless (0-3-3) in seven appearances.

This will be Georgiev’s 12th game of the season for the Blueshirts. The 23-year old Bulgarian last shutout the Devils on Saturday by stopping all 33 shots in a 4-0 win. It was his third career shutout. He’s stopped 55 of the last 56 shots. He brings a 6-4-1 mark with a 3.08 GAA and .912 save percentage into play. It will be his 55th NHL game. The reason I bring this up is because he’s closing in on the 60 game threshold. Once he reaches it, he’s no longer waiver exempt for next year’s Expansion Draft for Seattle. The organization has a hard decision to make regarding his future. Especially with Igor Shesterkin down in Hartford playing well. That’s a discussion for another day.

With Georgie going today, Henrik Lundqvist will make the start at home against the Canadiens tomorrow night. It looks like it’ll be Carey Price for the Habs with coach Claude Julien opting to start rookie Cayden Primeau tonight against Colorado.

As for any lineup tweaks from the unpredictable David Quinn, he will give rookie Kaapo Kakko another look on the first power play unit. This is good. Lately, it’s been too righty oriented with as many as four right shots. I don’t like that. Kakko can slide back in on the right side while Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are over on the left for one-timers. Tony DeAngelo has six power play points (2-4-6) due to doing a good job reading and reacting. Adam Fox also has half a dozen (1-5-6) to share the lead among NYR defensemen.

Greg McKegg should return after missing the past few games with a mysterious injury. Marc Staal was practicing with DeAngelo while Libor Hajek took turns. It looks like it’s the return of Staal after a month off due to ankle surgery to repair an infection. Everyone’s favorite defenseman won’t be in the lineup. We kid.

UPDATE: Scratch that. Both McKegg and Staal aren’t in. Hot tip to Colin Stephenson. It’s Boo Nieves on the fourth line with Brett Howden and Brendan Smith. Hajek on D.

Regarding Hajek, he’s young like Fox and Ryan Lindgren, who are both a little more polished. However, I like his skating and believe there’s untapped potential there. This is a rebuild. Obviously, even if I am a pro Staal guy due to how much respect I have for him, it’s probably better for the team to see if they can make a trade. He’s not going to be in the lineup every night. Hardly a fluid situation for the 32-year old veteran. Do I hear Sharks?

I want to address all this silly nonsense with DeAngelo. Another blog recently suggested trading him because he “doesn’t fit.” Whatever that means. What doesn’t he fit? Their biased criteria. I’m not going to make this blog political or turn it into the analytics and chart crap these people rely too much on.

Is DeAngelo perfect? No. But his 19 points (7-12-19) are tied for third in team scoring with their Russian God Pavel Buchnevich. A player allergic to physical contact who doesn’t shoot the puck enough. Until those two things change, I’m not sold on Buchnevich long-term. He may have 19 points (5-14-19), but remains inconsistent. Some games, you notice him due to his skill. Others, he’s hardly there. I thought he’d build off his strong finish last Spring by continuing to shoot more and finish. That’s not the case so far.

Getting back to DeAngelo. Even if he’s not the best defensively as these Corsi bloggers suggest, who is? Is Brady Skjei making anyone forget that he makes over $5 million on the cap and is a basket case in his end? Great song and video by Green Day off the Dookie album. Who’s to say Skjei doesn’t become the odd man out? He has the skating and offensive instincts, but for the money he makes, is replaceable unless we see improvement. It’s Year Five.

Don’t forget K’Andre Miller is in his sophomore year at Wisconsin. He could be ready next year. With lefties Lindgren and Hajek, once Miller is NHL bound, Skjei becomes movable. One of the justifications is DeAngelo will want too much money on his next contract at taking the $925,000 qualifying offer like rugged teammate Brendan Lemieux. Well duh. He only had 30 points last year in 61 games while being scratched a lot before Quinn got what he wanted.

At 24, the Sewell, New Jersey native is continuing to develop well. He’s on pace to shatter those marks. Nobody has put up this many points on the D this early since Brian Leetch. Most of it has come at even strength too. Something these possession nerds talk up unless it’s a player they irrationally hate for illogical reasons. Thirteen (5-8-13) of DeAngelo’s 19 points have come at even strength. Only the trio of Panarin (23), Ryan Strome (17) and Buchnevich (15) have more. Fox is 4-4-8 at even strength. Obviously, Mika Zibanejad would be higher if he didn’t miss all those games.

The point is this isn’t a high scoring team in terms of depth. It is improved due to Panarin carrying the load while Strome, DeAngelo and Filip Chytil (8 goals in 17 games) have surprised. This is without Chris Kreider going on a hot streak although he’s been doing a lot right. It’s without Kakko having recorded an even strength assist. Seven of his 11 points are on the power play.

To conclude that DeAngelo will want too much is misguided. He definitely took one for the team. So, let’s say he hits 15 goals and 50 points. You’re telling me that’s easy to replace. At the very least, if he continues to sustain his play offensively, he’s gonna get a bridge deal in the same neighborhood as superstar Buchnevich. If it becomes too much, only then can you be concerned. What I do know is he, Strome and Lemieux are all key contributors to this roster. It’s no coincidence. They bring the intangibles that are needed along with Kreider, Lindgren and Jacob Trouba.

There’s a good D prospect in Nils Lundkvist performing well back home in Sweden where his 16 points (4-12-16) and plus-15 rating lead Lulea HF. That’s all well and good. He plays on a roster that includes failed Rangers prospect Robin Kovacs. Talk about overhyped. There isn’t much talent.

They took him in the first round 28th overall in 2018 as part of the Ryan McDonagh and JT Miller trade with Tampa. A deal that also netted Hajek, Brett Howden, current Senator Vladislav Namestnikov and 2019 second round pick Karl Henriksson. On paper, it looks pretty good. Even if it doesn’t look like either Howden or Hajek are going to be stars. They’ll be serviceable NHL players. Henriksson looks like a steal. We’ll know more soon.

As for Lundkvist, he had a goal and assist for Sweden at the World Junior Championships last year. He can represent his country again, but he paces his pro team in scoring. So, that’s doubtful. He’s a good skating right defenseman, who’s undersized (5-10, 174) like DeAngelo. It’s hard to gauge what kind of player he’ll be. But labeling our team’s top offensive defenseman a third pair guy due to metrics is ridiculous. I’ll only say that if that’s true, what’s wrong with a top three right D of Trouba, Fox and DeAngelo? Nothing.

Jeff Gorton turned a once perceived weakness into a team strength. The GM deserves plenty of credit for this. He turned rental Kevin Hayes into a first round pick he used to acquire Trouba and land Lemieux, who’s the effective agitator this team needed. All Winnipeg has to show for it is Neal Pionk, who’s been solid so far. Plus first round pick Ville Heinola. That’s a huge win.

The only trade Gorton didn’t do well in was giving up on big left defenseman Ryan Graves to the Avalanche in exchange for Chris Bigras. Graves has gone on to become a key depth defenseman on Colorado who contributes offensively while blocking shots. Bigras didn’t last long in Hartford. He’s now Flyers property with Lehigh of the AHL.

One final point on DeAngelo and Lundkvist, who they’re already overhyping due to the desire to get rid of a good player, who also is very good at assessing things after wins and losses while calling out a biased blogger for their charts, which broke NYR Twitter. Lundkvist is young and only 19. He could need more time in Hartford to develop next season. DeAngelo has finally established himself and gotten it. He doesn’t take benchings personal either, but responds exactly how you’d like to see.

It’s time to put this issue to bed. It’s fake news.

Finally, it looks like Vitali Kravtsov made a foolish decision to leave Hartford for Chelyabinsk Traktor in the KHL. He has two goals and an assist in 10 games so far and hasn’t exactly been used the way he thought.

Love the commentary from Kevin DeLury. His Rangers podcast with Paul Cuthbert remains a joy to listen to. They have excellent chemistry and just the right gallows humor this fanbase desperately needs. There are far too many in social media and the blogosphere who take themselves too seriously. That includes that insincere reporter on The Athletic who’s nothing more than a Lundqvist fan. That’s the hard truth.

I’m going to take a listen to the new Rangers podcast featuring Ron Duguay, Mike Keenan and Larry Brooks, who probably is more in his element than suggesting bad trades like the one he threw out that had Buchnevich going to Columbus for Josh Anderson, who’s in Torts’ doghouse.

I actually made a good suggestion in the very comparable Oliver Bjorkstrand. Both were in the same 2013 Draft with Buchnevich going number 75 while Bjorkstrand went 89. The statistics are eerily similar with the even strength edge to Bjork and power play edge to Buch. The Rangers would save $750,000 on the cap through 2021.

I won’t be around until like 8:30 or 9. So, I’ll have to catch up on tonight’s game. Hopefully, they’ll respond well following the blah 4-1 loss to Vegas, who goes for a metro area sweep in Long Island.

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Confirmed: Devils fire Hynes

AP Photo by NHL.com via Getty Images

It’s officially over for John Hynes in New Jersey. Following an explosive tweet sent from NJ.com’s Chris Ryan that the embattled Devils coach could actually be behind the bench for tonight’s home game against the Golden Knights before the coaching change took place, the Devils official Twitter had no choice but to make the official announcement.

Assistant Alain Nasreddine will take over as interim coach and pro scout Peter Horachek joins the team as a new assistant. Credit NHL.com reporter Dan Rosen for that. Here was the original Ryan tweet that included a link to the story he broke because when it comes to today’s media, everyone wants to be first.

Once that was sent on Twitter, it created chaos and confusion. How could the organization allow Hynes to coach one more game before making the expected change? Everyone knew it was coming on the heels of a 7-1 humiliation at Buffalo after the 4-0 home embarrassment to the Rangers over the weekend. Something had to give.

As follower and passionate Devils fan Andrew Timoni put it in a good response to a tweet discussion regarding Hynes, it made no sense.

He recently visited Montreal again to see the Devils post their last victory under Hynes on Thanksgiving. Then braved the elements on a long drive home that included heavy snow upstate.

So, it’s finally over for Hynes. Hired by close friend and current Devils GM Ray Shero in 2015, he posted a record of 150-159-45. His best season coming in ’17-18 when he guided the Devils back to the playoffs with a 44-29-9 record and 97 points to edge out the Panthers for their first postseason appearance since 2012 when the franchise reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Hart winner Taylor Hall carried the team to become the first ever New Jersey Devil to win MVP. Keith Kinkaid had a great run as the number one goalie to get them in. Ironically, he was just placed on waivers by Montreal on the same day his former coach lost his job.

This year was supposed to be different. With the key additions of top pick Jack Hughes, acquisition of PK Subban and signings of Wayne Simmonds and Nikita Gusev, the Devils were expected to compete for the playoffs. Instead, they’ve suffered from inconsistency, lack of production and poor defense that’s caused them to be 9-13-4 with 22 points. That put them last in the Metro Division and 30th out of 31 teams with only miserable Detroit worse.

This is a change that had to happen. How will the team respond? They have a game at 7 PM against Vegas, who had no problem with the Rangers yesterday. The Devils then are off until Friday when the Blackhawks visit Newark. Following that home game, they embark on a four game road trip with stops at Nashville 12/7, Dallas 12/10, Colorado 12/13 and Arizona 12/14.

We’ll see if the coaching change lights a fire under underperforming players like Hall, Subban, Simmonds, Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier.

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Game 26: The gang that can’t shoot straight

Reilly Smith flips a backhand past Henrik Lundqvist to convert a breakaway goal in a Golden Knights 4-1 win that cooled off the Rangers on Monday night. AP Photo by Vegas Golden Knights via Getty Images

Forget that five-game point streak. That’s over with. Forget the easy beatdown of a woeful Devils that got humiliated even worse at Buffalo. Will that be the end for John Hynes? I’ll leave that to Hasan.

Truthfully, I touched on it the other day. The Rangers got away with a C game at best by being sloppy and undisciplined due to the opponent. Had they faced better competition, it could’ve been ugly. But Alexandar Georgiev made the saves and the penalty kill scored two shorthanded goals.

Tonight, the competition picked up. The Rangers were unprepared for what the Golden Knights brought. They dominated the first half and humiliated the Blueshirts by scoring the game’s first four goals en route to a 4-1 win at Madison Square Garden.

What made it worse is David Quinn’s decision to go back to Henrik Lundqvist backfired. Instead of sticking with the hot hand in Georgiev, who made 33 saves for the shutout on Saturday, the second-year coach catered to Lundqvist. He had no one to blame for a hideous first goal that he put in himself at 1:34 when he mishandled an Alex Tuch shot and had both Tony DeAngelo and Libor Hajek make good defensive plays. It didn’t matter because he put the loose puck in himself. Replay confirmed the ugly start.

Sometimes, when this team gets off to bad starts, they implode. Well, it didn’t take long for that to happen. Following Lundqvist’s gaffe, Brady Skjei allowed a attacking Vegas player to get behind him. He took a holding the stick minor penalty 18 seconds following the first goal. This time, the penalty kill that was so good versus New Jersey allowed an easy transition that saw Tuch put away a Nate Schmidt feed at the doorstep for a two goal Vegas lead at 3:50.

It didn’t get any better. The Rangers continued to be sloppy due to a combination of poor puck management leading to turnovers and lax coverage. The Golden Knights fired shots from every angle, peppered Lundqvist for 17 shots. He did keep it at two.

Eventually, a couple of Vegas penalties gave the Blueshirts a chance to get back in it. That included a hard working shift by Brendan Lemieux, who got hooked down by Nicholas Roy. To no avail. The power play fired blanks throughout taking the collar in five chances. It’s not like they didn’t create shots. However, Malcolm Subban was sharp. Starting in place of the grieving Marc-Andre Fleury, who lost his father, this was the best game I’ve seen him play. He took away everything down low and had good rebound control. He finished with 29 saves to earn the game’s number two star.

It’s pretty sad that a guy who still hasn’t proven to be a steady backup in the league outplayed Lundqvist. But that’s exactly what happened. There are no excuses. Even if you’re the biggest Henrik apologist and understand that Vegas is good, this should have been a win. The team played poorly for too long before they finally awakened down four.

In the second period, the fourth line turned over the puck due to a horrible back pass. It was Brett Howden who tried one of those risky passes to the point that Jacob Trouba couldn’t handle. It trapped both him and Skjei to cause a clean breakaway for Brendan Smith’s brother Reilly Smith. He made no mistake by patiently going to a forehand deke and then roofing a backhand top shelf past Lundqvist, who could only lay down after being unable to come up with the save. Had he, maybe it could’ve swung the momentum. It was a excellent move and finish by Smith for a 3-0 lead at 4:44.

It got even worse when Kaapo Kakko hi-sticked Brayden McNabb. Unlike the Ranger power play which fired blanks all night to frustrate fans who went and those like myself who watched on TV, the Golden Knights made it 2-for-2 on a well executed Cody Glass pass for a Max Pacioretty finish on an open side at 6:20. Mark Stone was instrumental in setting the play up. He’s just a good hockey player. He doesn’t possess the skill of Artemiy Panarin, but is very smart.

Trailing by four, the Rangers really began to dictate the terms. They did some good things on the forecheck and generated opportunities. The problem was Subban wasn’t cooperating. He was making key stops and his defense did a sound job in front of him. They got their sticks on loose pucks and were stronger defensively. For a good portion, the guys in blue weren’t creating enough traffic in front. Something Joe Micheletti alluded to. When a goalie is going well, you got to make it more difficult.

The one instance where they did, it resulted in their lone goal on Subban. On a real good sustained forecheck from the make shift trio of Lemieux, Jesper Fast and Mika Zibanejad, they outworked the Knights along the boards. Eventually, Zibanejad came out with it and passed for Trouba, who wisely shot passed for an open Lemieux in front for a great redirection for his fourth goal with 4:45 left to give them hope. Lemieux was their most effective player.

Had they been able to get another goal before the second ended, we could’ve had a different game to recap. Maybe even a comeback like at Montreal. But the Rangers missed on some close calls including Strome passing for Panarin, who couldn’t quite put it away. It was that kind of night.

Vegas tried their darnest to get the Rangers back in the game. They had consecutive power plays on minors from Theodore and Pacioretty. While the man-advantage got a number of good looks, they were unable to convert. It was exasperating. You had Adam Fox miss wide later in the period which left him shaking his head in disbelief. That summed it up.

Zibanejad missed a wide open one in the waning seconds fron the same spot he scored on a Fox pass the other day. There were so many blanks fired that it looked like the gang that can’t shoot straight. They did fire 11 shots through, but Subban was up to the challenge to win his third consecutive decision. You can now make an argument that he’s been the better Subban. Scary thought, eh?

There also was a bit of comedy near the conclusion when McNabb knocked Zibanejad’s stick out while the Rangers had a power play. Strome decided to catch it and toss the stick to Zibanejad. An illegal play which resulted in a throwing the stick minor. At that point, I laughed. Not only was it amusing, but I couldn’t believe Quinn argued the call. He already was out of his mind doing one of those mercy Patrick Roy goalie pulls while trailing by three. I can’t stand that. It’s ridiculous.

Here’s a question for readers to ponder. Would Georgiev have made a difference? I’m not going to make any big conclusion here. I just wonder if perhaps Quinn outsmarted himself by not riding the hot hand. I’m not going to fault Lundqvist for the last three goals. Those were good plays. However, if he could’ve prevented Smith from scoring on the breakaway, that could’ve changed the momentum. Sometimes, you need your goalie to make a big save to spark the club. He didn’t get it done.

The Rangers overall were far too sloppy. Pavel Buchnevich had one of his befuddling games where he holds onto the puck too long and loses it due to being too predictable. He wound up with four giveaways and only 1:28 power play time while logging 14:14. This is why I find him so frustrating. He isn’t this superstar other blogs pretend he is. Until he finds consistency, I view him as talented but a tease.

The next game is Thursday at Columbus. So, who gets it. Oh, that’s right. It’s expected to be Georgiev. Then they’ll go to Lundqvist for the Canadiens on Friday. We’ll see how they respond.

Battle Of 3 🌟

3rd 🌟 Brendan Lemieux, Rangers (4th of season, penalty drawn, 6 hits in 14:19 including 2:13 power play)

2nd 🌟 Malcolm Subban, Golden Knights (29 saves, 9 for 9 saves shorthanded)

1st 🌟 Alex Tuch, Golden Knights (2 goals for 3rd, 4th, 5 shots in 12:54)

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