Jacob Trouba gives Filip Chytil some love following his goal in a Rangers 2-1 win over the Predators. AP Photo by Frederick Breedon courtesy Getty Images
This one was a statement. If coach David Quinn was looking for more consistency from his young team, he sure got it. Led by a trio of young players, the Blueshirts posted a solid effort to edge one of the West’s best in the Predators 2-1.
The hard fought one goal victory got the Rangers back to NHL .500 (5-5-1). It might not seem like much, but to follow up what they did at MSG against the Lightning by edging one of the better teams in very competitive fashion on the road at a lively arena, was impressive.
Filip Chytil, Alexandar Georgiev and veteran Ryan Strome starred in this one. Their fingerprints were all over the place. For a second straight game since his recall from Hartford, Chytil scored. Maybe he’s here to stay. Two games and two goals. That’s a major statement for the suddenly confident 20-year old center. The finish was sweet too.
I love how patient Chytil was on the rush. He wisely waited for the defenseman to go down and went around before whipping a nice wrist shot by Nashville backup goalie Juuse Saros. He got the start for the Predators and played very well. It was an excellent goaltended game.
Georgiev was superb throughout. Making his second consecutive start while Henrik Lundqvist had a nice view from the bench, the second-year netminder made the difference between the pipes. While counterpart Saros made his share of big saves to finish with 28, Georgiev did his part with some clutch ones of his own to wind up with 32 stops. That earned him the game’s number one star.
Might this get him another start against Ottawa on Tuesday? In my honest opinion, it should. You gotta stick with the hot hand. That also goes for rookie defenseman Ryan Lindgren, who turned in another steady game this afternoon in place of well respected veteran leader Marc Staal.
It’s definitely a tough time for the warrior, who was a big part of the three runs the old Rangers made. I don’t see any reason to put him back in with the team playing well. Staal is a team guy. I hope they can find a taker and pick up part of his salary. He’s been a good soldier. Don’t forget it.
In the second period, Micheal Haley and Austin Watson went at it. I didn’t catch much of the early portion. So here is a look.
Apparently, these two had a history. Haley is a tough son of a gun for his size. He knows his role and plays it effectively. The Sharks actually miss his energy. They stink. There’s nothing wrong with having a veteran that can jump into the lineup and play six to seven minutes.
A couple of minutes following Haley’s decision over Watson, this happened.
Just an all around tremendous play. Great teamwork. Tony DeAngelo didn’t get credit for an assist, but he started it with the quick pass up to Jesper Fast, catching Nashville in a line change. The passing between Fast and Artemiy Panarin to Strome for his fourth was picture perfect. You can’t draw it up any better. For the Strome detractors, that’s now a career high six-game point streak (4-5-9). He continues his fast start.
That’s 11 points (4-7-11) in 11 games. Not bad for a versatile forward, who’s shifted to center without any issue. Once Mika Zibanejad returns, they will have a good problem due to Chytil looking much better, and Strome continuing to pile up points while being trusted by Quinn in every facet. You don’t get rid of that. If things change down the road, we’ll see. He’s 26 and making GM Jeff Gorton look very smart for stealing him for Ryan Spooner. Strome is a RFA next summer.
Let’s also give the coach some credit for putting Strome between Panarin and complement Fast, who is once again proving how valuable he is. On another team, he’s a third liner. Maybe even fourth line. However, the hard working 27-year old Swede is eerily similar to Carl Hagelin. A popular speed demon, who fueled transition while playing responsible defensively at five-on-five and on the penalty kill. You can plug Fast anywhere. He’s healthier too. It’s a contract year for Quickie. Do they keep him? Don’t worry. That’s to be determined.
After Strome made it 2-0, the Preds turned up the heat. They really started dictating play with strong puck possession and hard forechecking shifts in the Rangers end. That’s where Georgiev shined. He made some strong stops. That included getting a glove on a high shot labeled. He’s very poised for someone unheralded. I have no idea what’ll happen. But I want him here with Igor Shesterkin eventually. I know it’s probably unrealistic. How can you not love how composed he is?
Georgiev wasn’t the only star in net on Saturday. Yes. Saros had a very good day. For someone that had struggled early on, he was sharp in a well played second that favored the Preds (14-8 shots edge). He thwarted Kaapo Kakko on a breakaway. Kakko got some quality chances. He was previously set up in the right circle on the power play, but his one-timer missed its target. Hit the net and it’s in. Instead, Nashville turned it into a pair of shorthanded bids that Georgiev was ready for.
That wasn’t the only big scoring chance the Rangers misfired on. Chris Kreider continued his frustrating start by ringing one off the goalpost on a clean breakaway. He shook his head on the bench. The same guy everyone wants to move to the Blues due to the Vladimir Tarasenko shoulder surgery, was seen on the bench chatting with Kakko about his close call. It looked like a friendly chat. For those who think Kreider isn’t a leader, you’re wrong. I hope he hits a good stretch soon. My fantasy team needs it. I also have Kakko.
Penalties got the Rangers in trouble late in the period. With DeAngelo off for interference on Rocco Grimaldi that was all caused by a poor Brady Skjei turnover, Viktor Arvidsson snuck in to tip in a Filip Forsberg pass from Roman Josi at 14:36. That cut the lead in half. During a scrum at the buzzer, Strome picked up an unnecessary cross-checking minor in a battle eith Mattias Ekholm.
Fortunately, the penalty kill picked him up along with Georgiev (11 saves in the third). As a team, the Blueshirts blocked 16 shots. That included a key one from Jacob Trouba, who was battling a Predator in front. Nashville makes it tough. Nothing about their style is easy. That’s why this was a good win.
The Rangers had to kill off two more penalties down the stretch on Brendan Smith and Libor Hajek, who had the only assist on Chytil’s goal. They got the job done. Despite being on the penalty kill three different times including in crunch time, they outshot the Preds 15-11 in the final stanza.
Despite getting out-attempted 69-55, they more than held their own earning praise from a pleased Quinn. He should be. Now, we’ll see if they can build on it. They got the Senators next. A classic trap game. Let’s see how they handle prosperity. Win and that’s three in a row. That’s called a winning streak. It has happened before.
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what favorite Major League character I am quoting. ☺️😀 So let’s jack it up! Let’s see some hustle!
Okay. That’ll do it for now. All in all, a happy recap on Daylight Savings day. Happy November!
Battle Of Hudson 3 🌟:
3rd 🌟 Filip Chytil, Rangers (2nd goal in 2 games, 4 shots, +1 in 16:34)
2nd 🌟 Juuse Saros, Predators (28 saves including 15/15 in 3rd)
1st 🌟 Alexandar Georgiev, Rangers (32 saves including 13/14 in 2nd, 11/11 in 3rd, 2 GA on 63 shots in last 2 starts)