NEW YORK, NY – We’re two weeks away from the NHL break for the Winter Olympics and the New York Rangers sit atop the Metropolitan Division. They’re two points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, but the ‘Canes have four games in hand.
Wednesday, the Blueshirts might have played their best two periods of the season against a strong Maple Leafs team. They gave up two goals early and trailed 3-1 at the end of the first period. The second and third periods were all NY as the Rangers scored two in the middle frame to tie things up and then three goals in the third to ice the game. The Rangers got a lot of help from their fourth line who played some major ice time, including a stint on the power play after the second unit gave up a bad short-handed scoring chance.
Veteran enforcer Ryan Reaves scored the Rangers’ first two goals of the game. They were Reavo’s first two goals of the season and his first multi-goal game in about a decade. Defenseman Adam Fox scored two goals and Kreider and Strome rounded out the Rangers scoring with a goal apiece. On the back end Igor Shesterkin came back from a rough first period to shut down the Leafs over the last two frames. The only time he was beaten in the last two periods was when a Leaf kicked the puck into the net. The goal was correctly chalked off and the Rangers cruised to a 6-3 victory.
Wednesday’s match-up could have been a preview of an opening round playoff series this year. We’re almost halfway through the regular season and the Broadway Blues find themselves in a good position. They’ve been lucky to not have too many #COVID cancellations so their schedule should be fairly normal the second half of the season. as of today, the Rangers have played eight more games than the Islanders. That is a lot of games to make up in an already congested Olympic year. The NHL won’t be sending players to Beijing, citing #Covid concerns and the 50 or so games that have already been postponed.
The league will now use that two-week window to make up a lot of those games. With the Rangers in good shape with few cancellations, they should get a decent break will help keep them fresh down the stretch. It is about this time of year that Mika Zibanejad gets going. The Rangers will need more from him to make that deep playoff push.
Speaking of breaks and pushing, come back tomorrow for Short Matt, but leave your comments below first.