Patrik Laine’s hat trick humbles Rangers

If you ever lose enough to get into the top three via the lottery, there’s a greater chance of landing a franchise defining superstar. That’s pretty evident with Winnipeg after picking second overall behind Toronto in the 2016 NHL Draft. One that will be remembered for top two picks Auston Matthews and current Jets finisher Patrik “Teemu” Laine.

Greatness was on display at the Mecca between 33rd street and seventh avenue near Broadway. The second-year Finn who reminds me of Teemu Selanne put on a great show for hockey fans. While the Rangers had their three-game win streak snapped by a much better team, it was mostly due to Laine. He recorded his first hat trick of the season and fourth of his brief two-year career. That moved him into the Rocket Richard race with numbers 36, 37 and 38 putting the sizzling sniper two within NHL leader Alexander Ovechkin.

Laine’s talent was too much for the Blueshirts on this night. He had two brilliant finishes on ridiculous shots the first two periods which Henrik Lundqvist had no chance on.

Here is a look at all three goals including the 120 footer into a empty net as a exclamation point.

On goal one, he got a nice pass from Paul Stastny and used the defenseman as a screen with a perfect laser.

The second goal, he caught the Rangers in a bad change. Notice that Ryan Spooner lost his check allowing Laine to walk into the high slot. Kevin Hayes was late to the party. Marc Staal was occupied with a player in front who he left getting caught in between which allowed Laine easy access. Neal Pionk wasn’t in the picture wandering behind the net.

When it comes to the system under Alain Vigneault, it depends on the forwards to rotate in coverage. A part many pundits have left out. Whoever they bring in assuming the obvious with the coach, there must be a better defensive system with excellent communication.

As far as the game, the Rangers didn’t play badly by any stretch. They only hadt three less shots with 31 to Winnipeg’s 34. Mats Zuccarello had the best chances. He found a way not to score twice. Let’s just leave it at that. The less said about it, the better.

The Hayes unit with Spoon Man and Jesper Fast again created shots and chances with Hayes recording seven shots. That line is terrific together.

Vladislav Namestnikov continues to look good. He stayed with Jimmy Vesey and Zucc. They forechecked and generated opportunities. I would’ve liked to see Namestnikov moved up between Pavel Buchnevich and Chris Kreider with Mika Zibanejad out. I feel he deserves a shot with the top line anyway.

David Desharnais cannot play top line. I understand this is what most coaches do. But in the current situation, it’s not what Vigneault should be doing.

The next game is tomorrow in Tampa. Ryan McDonagh isn’t expected back. But J.T. Miller is playing very well with two goals and three assists. Take note.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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