The Rangers flipped the script from opening night and dominated the Islanders last night for a 5-0 win. From the first shift, the Rangers showed a newfound jump in their game. Coach Quinn made some wholesale changes after the first game and I think that woke up the team. Panarin said the team got the message before the game, “The right words were spoken in the locker room. It was a good lesson learned for all of us.” Here are the highlights from last night.
Lets breakdown what we saw last night:
After a rough opening night, this unit really stepped up. They cut down on mistakes and limited the Islanders to low-risk scoring opportunities. Brendan Smith made his season debut for the scratched Tony DeAngelo and played very well. He was physical all night and made an excellent defensive play, then made a long distance pass to Artemi Panarin to spring him for a breakaway goal.
Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox both played fantastic. The two both played over 20 minutes each and really controlled play. Fox looks so much more comfortable in the defensive zone this year in his sophomore season. He is even getting pk minutes now. Trouba played well in both ends. He looked great on the second power play and was not afraid to shoot. Miller looked much more comfortable in his second game. Jack Johnson had a nice bounce back and was solid in more of a limited role than opening night.
The 24 year old goaltender stopped all 23 shots he faced last night. He showed zero rust after a 10 month lay off between starts. He was in perfect position all night long to keep the Islanders off the board. Georgiev continued his dominance against the Isles improving his career numbers to 6-2 in 8 starts and lowered in GAA to a sparkling 1.80. After his performance last night, I would think Quinn will stick with him and start him Tuesday night against New Jersey.
The breadman delivered…twice last night. Panarin was a force in the offensive zone all night. With the Rangers staying out of the box he saw 22 minutes of ice time, 5 minutes more than opening night. This needs to be the formula for the Rangers going forward. Stay disciplined and your star player is on the ice more to create. Pretty simple formula.
After a quiet opening night Buch was all over the ice last night. Scoring twice and also playing well in his new found role on the penalty kill. Buch got the Rangers on the board just over 2 minutes into the game after a nice pass from Mika Zibanejad. After falling behind early opening night the Rangers needed to score early and grab the momentum. His second goal was an absolute snipe from the circle. Taking advantage of a bad clearing attempt by the Islanders. Pavel scooped up the puck and went bar down over Sorokin’s left shoulder.
That beautiful sound. pic.twitter.com/j8BMuQvP3Z— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 17, 2021
After getting demoted from the second line for Alexis Lafreniere and for some reason getting dropped from the second power play Kakko answered the bell. He scored his first goal of the season on a great passing play with linemates Filip Chytil and Phil Di Giuseppe. Kakko I am sure felt the pressure after getting dropped down in the lineup so it was great to see the 19 year old respond so well. I hope we see him back on the second power play unit next game, he is so much more of an offensive threat than Brendan Lemieux.
I know he took a dumb penalty opening night but I do not think he was the reason the Rangers got pummeled. I think Quinn used him to send a message and from the way the Rangers responded, it worked. Tony has had an interesting few weeks with his outward support of President Trump and his social media posts. I don’t think that should impact his play on the ice but I do think it can impact a locker room. Unfortunately for DeAngelo, usually after a win Quinn will stick with the same line up so he might be sitting in the press box again Tuesday night.
The Rangers are back in action at MSG Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils. Lets hope they can build off this win and play with that same spark in a few nights.