The Blueshirts head back north of the border where they will face the Ottawa Senators as they look to make it four wins out of four games on the road (1:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
|4th||NHL Standing Rank||19th|
They just keep finding a way to win games! The Rangers came out victorious 3-1 in Nashville in a very tight and competitive game. The heroes for the game were the entire second line consisting of Sammy Blais, Filip Chytil, and Alexis Lafreniere who combined for five points and were the only line to beat Nashville’s netminder Juuse Saros. Barclay Goodrow showed his value in the final minute and was able to slot home the empty-net goal to secure the win.
“He’s (Lafreniere) an unbelievable player and I just was happy to play with him,” Blais said. “Our centerman today, Fil, was unreal, too. I’m just trying to make space for them and make plays.”
“Tonight, for me, was the toughest game we played so far this season,” said head coach Gerard Gallant. “Everybody battled for ice… I thought we competed hard…”
Igor Shesterkin continued his hot play stopping 28 of 29 shots with the only goal against being another fluke – this time from behind the goal line. Shesterkin has allowed just one goal in each of the past three games and has a .953 save percentage.
My player of the game was the entire second line. They were buzzing all night were creating good chances and got rewarded for it. Once again, honorable mentions to Jacob Trouba and K’Andre Miller for another solid defensive performance. These two don’t credit by anyone for some solid play but they have been integral parts of the lineup and have been better together than last year. Patrick Nemeth also had his best game of his young Rangers career.
While everyone is happy that the Rangers are 3-1-1 and are off to a positive start to the season – I think there are some concerns that are valid. Through five games this season, the Rangers have yet to score three goals or more on a goaltender. Artemi Panarin does not look like his self to start the season. This has been by far the worst five game stretch of his Rangers tenured and he has three points in five games. The ability to put up points when you aren’t playing well just goes to show how much of a superstar Panarin is.
The powerplay is also a massive concern that needs to be addressed. They are only converting at a 10% rate to start the season – compared to last year when they were converting at a 20.7% rate. Thursday night, the Rangers went 0-4 including a 5-on-3 for 1:22 and not only did they not convert – it didn’t even look threatening.
Kaapo Kakko returned to the ice prior to the game on Thursday. Kakko’s return to the ice is a positive sign that he will be back sooner rather than later and could be back as early as Monday.
The Ottawa Senators have opened the year with a record of 2-2-0. The big news from the Senators camp was signing Brady Tkachuk to a seven-year contract worth over eight million a season. He played in his first game on Thursday and recorded an assist.
The Senators are slowly developing a nice core as their rebuild continues including Drake Batherson, Tim Stützle, Josh Norris, and Shane Pinto upfront. They also have defenseman Thomas Chabot who is showing he is one of the best defenders in the league.
Similar to the Rangers, Ottawa has been doing a good job of keeping the puck out of the net and trouble scoring goals. They are hoping with Tkachuk back in the lineup that the ability to score will be a little easier as he is paired with Norris and Batherson on the top line. The Senators are a hard-working team and are no pushover. They have been in every game they have played in – which have all been one-goal games. Their two wins came over the Maple Leafs and the Dallas Stars both ending with a final score of 3-2.
What to Watch For
My what to watch for is the entire offense and if they can get scoring contributions from up-and-down the lineup – especially in an afternoon game. The Rangers have don’t have a single point from nine players who have seen the ice in a game this season. As a whole, they need to do a better job of scoring. I believe that if they can figure out the power play, that will solve a lot of problems including Panarin and the top six getting points. As a result, their goals scored per game should rise.