The New York Rangers got blown out by the Washington Capitals in their season opener 5-1. The new rough and tumble Rangers are not off to a great start. The lethal Capitals power play opened up the scoring in the first and the Caps never looked back. Special teams played a huge role in the game. Washington scored three power-play goals on six opportunities and also scored a shorthanded goal. The Rangers only capitalized on one of their five power-play opportunities. The ageless wonder Alexander Ovechkin scored two goals and assisted on two more. T.J. Oshie also had a strong game for the Caps scoring a goal and assisting on another. Chris Kreider scored the lone Rangers goal, which came on the power play in the third period. Here are the highlights or lowlights from tonight’s game.
Nils Lundkvist Needs to Play
Jarred Tinordi had a rough Rangers debut. I understand the Rangers wanted a “tougher” lineup tonight but going forward the kid needs to play. The Rangers outhit the Capitals 27-12 and it had zero impact on the game. Tinordi had a tough time getting the puck out of his own zone at some points. The second powerplay also would benefit much more with Nils running the point than Trouba, who cannot hit the net with a shot.
The Rangers have a Georgiev Problem
The Rangers 25-year-old goalie had a bad game. He allowed 5 goals, stopping 22 of the 27 shots he saw. I was surprised to see Georgiev get that start over Igor, considering Shesterkin is the clear #1 goalie. I know they play tomorrow night but you just paid Igor to be the franchise goalie, he can play back-to-back nights. Georgiev struggled in the preseason and it carried over into tonight. In an interview last week with Vince Mercogliano on The Broadway Hat Podcast I asked if he thinks Georgiev ends the season with the Rangers. I don’t see it. With a much cheaper option in Keith Kinkaid sitting in Hartford they have a solid backup plan. The first big goalie injury in the NHL don’t be surprised to hear Georgiev’s name brought up.
Blais I think had the strongest game of any Rangers forward. Making his Rangers debut Blais was throwing the body and putting pressure on the Capitals defenseman in the offensive zone all night. Blais did take a penalty that lead to an Ovechkin power-play goal but that was a call that should have been offsetting minors. He also got booked for a double minor early in the first period when he and Trevor van Riemsdyk went at it. Blais will be a fan favorite very soon.
The Great 8
Alex Ovechkin is 36 years old and looks like he is still 26 out on the ice. He racked up 4 points and career goals 731 and 732. Ovi passed former New York Ranger and Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne on the all-time goals list. He now sits 5th all-time in NHL history and is just 163 goals away from chasing down Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record. 41 of those career goals have come against the Rangers. The third-highest total he has against any team.
Kakko Aggresive Play
Kaapo Kakko had a very strong preseason and carried that confidence over into the regular season. He was robbed by Caps goalie Vitek Vanecek twice on great setups by Artemi Panarin. Kakko ended the game with 5 shots on goals on goal. He was out there for a few Capitals goals but I liked his aggressive offensive play. It was refreshing to see him look for his shot.
Face-offs have been a huge issue for the Rangers for what feels like 10 years now. There was an improvement in the preseason. Gerard Gallant and Chris Drury were trying out different strategies in training camp, including bringing in a former NHL referee to help coach them up. Well, tonight the Rangers were great in the circle winning 60% of the draws in the game. Ryan Strome was the only Rangers center with a losing record. Kevin Rooney stood out, winning 8 of 10 faceoffs. A few of those coming on the penalty kill in the defensive zone, leading to clears.
The Rangers have to put tonight’s Capitals game behind them quickly. They play their home opener tomorrow night, welcoming the Dallas Stars to MSG. They close out the week with Montreal on Saturday night. Going back on the road and heading to Canada for the first time since the 2019-2020 season.
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