NEW YORK, NY – It was a tough road trip out west for the Rangers last week. After beating the Seattle Kracken in the first match-up ever between the two sides, the Rangers lost in overtime to both the Canucks and Oilers. The Rangers held a 4-1 lead against the Oilers in the second period. But Conor McDavid & Co showed what they are capable of and rattled off a slew of goals, including a wonder goal from McDavid that is in the early running for goal of the season. The game was tied at 5-5 at the end of regulation and Leon Draisaitl netted the overtime winner for Edmonton.
New York followed that tough loss with a drubbing at the hands of the Calgary Flames. The Western Canada trip ended with a regulation loss and two overtime losses. Not exactly what a resurgent Rangers team would have hoped for. Back at the Garden Monday night, the Broadway Blues got back to winning ways and handed the Florida Panthers their first loss of the season.
Despite the rough patch in Western Canada, the Rangers have exceeded expectations so far this season. Chris Kreider has led the line with 12 points in 13 games this season. Six of his nine goals have been on the Power Play. He was the odds-on favorite to be named Captain at the start of the season, but the Rangers brass declined to name a captain and instead named six Alternate Captains. Kreider is playing like he wants that “C”. And it’s helped propel the team into third place in the Metropolitan division, three points behind the Carolina Hurricanes at the top of the division.
At the back end, Igor Shesterkin started the season on fire. He’s played like a Vezina Trophy candidate in the early goings. He’s not satisfied though and thinks he can play better. It’s a great attitude from the clear #1 choice in net. He’s been much sharper than backup Alexandar Georgiev. Last season Shesterkin and Georgiev shared responsibilities in net pretty evenly. I think that should change and Shesterkin should get the lion’s share of the time in net.
Adam Fox has picked up where he left off after winning the Norris Trophy last season. He’s led a solid defensive core for the Rangers. Fox is averaging a point per game and has 10 helpers to go along with his three goals on the season. Defensively he’s been stellar as always. And he will need to be as the Rangers enter a tough stretch of six games over the next nine days.
They start that stretch tomorrow against the Blue Jackets in Columbus. Gerrard Galant has given the Rangers structure that had been lacking over the David Quinn years. They need to keep picking up points as things will only get tougher as the season wears on. Despite the slow start, nobody believes that the Islanders will be cellar dwellers for long. And with the way the Hurricanes and Capitals are playing, the Rangers will need every point possible when the Isles inevitably turn things around.
Speaking of turning things around, come back tomorrow for someone who needs to do so in a hurry, Short Matt.