What we learned from the Rangers season opener
- Oscar Lindberg seems like a bona fide pro. His performance against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks was an encouraging sign of what is to come, and he was my first star from the game.. Lindberg opened the scoring less than two minutes into the game, killing the atmosphere at the United Center. He nearly scored again, but was denied in front by Crawford. For a lot of the night, Lindberg was the best forward on the team. He was a monster defensively, won six of the nine faceoffs he took, and helped spark the offensive production from the third line. Vigneault trusted him enough to try him out as the third line center, giving him more offensive freedom and opportunities to score. Lindberg’s performance, and the whole line’s performance, is part of the reason why there’s no lineup change for tomorrow. Excellent first game from Lindberg.
- JT Miller was Lindberg’s linemate last night, and my goodness was he impressive. Miller kicked off the night with an assist on Lindberg’s goal, making a sweet cross crease pass right to the rookie’s stick. He made an equally impressive pass to Keith Yandle, picking up a secondary assist on Kevin Klein’s goal. While I said that I thought that Chris Kreider could eclipse 30 goals this season, or in the near future, I also said that JT Miller could easily be a 40 point player. Vigneault knows him and trusts him now, which is great for his confidence.
- Speaking of Chris Kreider, he was playing like a man possessed against Chicago. He was effectively using his blend of speed and strength to pressure the opposing defenders. If he hit the net a bit more consistently, I’m sure he would have scored a goal or two. And I think he will score in Columbus.
- No need to worry about Kevin Hayes. After a poor preseason, Hayes fit in perfectly alongside Derek Stepan and fellow Boston College Eagle Chris Kreider. There was some concern over whether or not Hayes could still be a playmaker on the wing, and it seems like he can be. His assist on Derek Stepan’s goal showed excellent awareness and hockey instincts. On top of that, he won all five of the faceoffs that he took. Hayes can stickhandle in a phone booth and pass just as well as anyone on the team, so I’m excited to see him in a top six role.
- The top line with Nash, Brassard and Zuccarello wasn’t all that good. Nash admitted that the trio was a little “rusty,” and I’m sure they’ll get better as the season goes on. Zuccarello was the most noticeable, and didn’t seem hampered by the head injury he sustained in the playoffs last season.
- The fourth line is improved. They were defensively responsible throughout the night, and even created a few good scoring chances. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was definitely better. It’s nice to see that the Rangers can effectively roll four lines.
- Dan Girardi had a very rough night. 26% corsi, a costly turnover leading to a goal, and a few other mistakes. Now this isn’t a section where I’m going to bash him and call for a trade. But he needs to be better. Girardi wears a letter, and needs to be steady and mostly mistake free.
- I was worried that Kevin Klein’s offensive production was a fluke last year. And what does he do? He goes and scores a gorgeous one timer off of a feed from Keith Yandle. It’s good for his confidence to score this early and have a solid debut. If Klein can keep scoring like he did last season, I’m all for keeping him.
- I’m ecstatic to see Keith Yandle play an entire year here. He’s already tallied an assist, a nice fake shot over to Klein, and moved the puck well. He’s always willing to get the puck on net, and he’ll help the power play. Once the Rangers go on the man advantage that is.
- Henrik Lundqvist was dialed in last night. He was locked in when the Rangers needed him down the stretch, especially when the Blackhawks were pouring on the pressure late in the game. Hank finished with 32 saves, and impressed early on. With the no goal late in the game, the ref blew the whistle when the puck was underneath his right pad after a great save. The ref lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle before the puck was stuffed in. This isn’t a reviewable play, so the play had to stand.
- It’s great to get a win like this early on in the season, and it was nice to see all of the lines mesh well together. It’s a nice little confidence booster for the team and hopefully the good vibes carry into Columbus.
Posted on October 8, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged Alain Vigneault, Brandon Saad, Chris Kreider, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Dominic Moore, Dylan McIlrath, Emerson Etem, Jarret Stoll, Jesper Fast, JT Miller, Keith Yandle, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Mats Zuccarello, MSG, New York Rangers, New York Rangers blog, New York Rangers roster, NHL, NHL 2015, NHL season opener, Nick Foligno, NYR, Oscar Lindberg, Rangers, Rangers blog, Rangers Season Opener, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Viktor Stalberg. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.