The Rangers win it tonight at the final trip to the Joe Louis Arena against the Red Wings 4-1.
In a game that the New York Rangers needed to have, for mental reasons more so than the standings, they showed up and were seemingly up to the task. This game showed a few nice talking points for the Rangers but the return of Rick Nash and Michael Grabner was, in my opinion, the best part.
After receiving the news on Saturday that Henrik Lundqvist would be out for 2-3 weeks with a lower body injury (hip related), all eyes quickly turned to Antti Raanta to be “the guy.” This season, in just under 20-games, we have all seen Raanta perform at an exceptionally high level so this wasn’t too daunting if you break down the numbers.
In the 1st period, the 4th line of Glass, Lindberg, and Vesey, was getting good looks and they were doing very well on the forecheck. In the first 10-15 minutes of the period they were arguably the best players on the ice but then (it seemed) the tides began to turn towards the end of the period, as the Rangers have seen happen to them all too often. Defenseman Steven Kampfer took a tripping penalty and the penalty kill needed to get to work. Which is a big reason why having Grabner and Nash back for this game was a big deal. As the Rangers PK has been dominant most of the season, they showed it again with Hayes and McDonagh leading an odd-man rush down the ice and Hayes pulled off a slick move as he drove closer to Detroit netminder Mrazek. The puck squeaked through the 5-hole and the Captain was there to drive the puck into the net. 1-0 Rangers after 1.
The 2nd period started a little different as Detroit seemed to get their legs going under them and the Rangers couldn’t match it. Marc Staal took an elbowing penalty around 5 minutes into the period so once again the PK needed to get the job done. Detroit forward Frans Nielsen tied the game with a PowerPlay Goal after a series of crisp passes from the PowerPlay unit. Just as momentum seemed to start swinging the Red Wings’ way, the Captain of the Blueshirts stepped up again and intercepted a pass at center-ice and drove to the net in what turned out to be a completely broken play. Bodies were flying all around the crease but McDonagh was there to put home a rebound deep in the crease to regain a 1-goal lead. Just 37 seconds later, the line that the Rangers grew to love in the beginning, but began to get cold lately, found life and Hayes scored a goal off of a nice pass from JT Miller (JT got his 50th point here). 3-1, end of 2.
Quickly in the 3rd, former Red Wing, Brendan Smith took a delay of game penalty but the penalty kill took care of it with no issue. Derek Stepan took a penalty for high-sticking later on, but again the penalty kill was up to the task. Raanta continued to make some key saves to keep the 2-goal lead for the Rangers and towards the end of the period, while on the PowerPlay, Derek Stepan(!!!) broke his long goal-less drought and scored, going bardown…it was a pretty sweet goal and the Rangers let Stepan know it was well deserved.
Antti Raanta played a great game, only allowing a PowerPlay goal, and it goes to show that Raanta believes he can hold down the fort while The King is sidelined…and NYR will need his A-game because they have another game tomorrow night against Tampa Bay. The next 6 games come in 3 sets of back-to-back games. An intense schedule, but Raanta can handle it…easily.
1.Penalty Kill unit getting healthy
2.Antti Raanta coming up big as needed
3.Grabner-Hayes-Miller line beginning to heat up (hopefully!)
4.Derek Stepan scores…FINALLY
|New York Rangers
|4||vs.||1||Detroit Red Wings
|McDonagh: 2 Goals (5)
Hayes: Goal (17) Assist
Grabner: 2 Assists
Stepan: Goal (13)
Raanta: 23 Saves
|Neilsen: Goal (14)
Mrazek: 27 Saves
|Third Star: Gustav Nyquist
Second Star: Kevin Hayes
First Star: Ryan McDonagh
Author: @BenR_Experience via Twitter