Rangers open the season with a win over the Islanders; KZB line impresses

Bobby Bevilacqua


Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers (1-0-0) opened the season at Madison Square Garden for the first time since 2007, and they didn’t disappoint, winning a thriller by the score of 5-3 over the rival New York Islanders.

The goals for the Rangers were scored by Michael Grabner, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Brandon Pirri and JT Miller on the empty net. Eleven different Rangers recorded a point, while three players (Kreider, Zibanejad, Buchnevich) each scored two points.

The Rangers outshot the Islanders 39-28, won the faceoff battle 33-31, were 1-5 on the power play and they were 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.

Here are some game notes;

– It’s not often that I say this, but I didn’t have a problem with any of the forwards. Everyone was at least passable, and a lot of players were good. AV opted for four skill lines and it paid off as Grabner, a fourth liner, opened the scoring and Pirri, the fourth line center, scored on the power play to put the game out of reach.

– On any given night, any given line will be able to lead the Rangers to offense and goal scoring. That’ll be important, because it’ll cause defensive matchup nightmares for opponents while also helping cover some of the deficiencies on the Rangers’ defense.

– That fourth line may have been the best line overall. Grabner, Pirri and Fast were all good defensively, and from the beginning of the game they were getting the puck in the islanders zone and generating chances. Having Pirri there adds a nice scoring touch while also giving the Rangers a fantastic power play quarterback

– Grabner scored the first goal of the game, cashing in on a rebound chance from Pirri’s shot. Fast’s play to get the puck to Pirri was very good as well. It’s nice having someone with a shoot first mentality (Pirri). Really helps kick start the offense and the power play

– Speaking of the power play, the Rangers looked GOOD on the man advantage. There was a lot of good movement and good scoring chances, and newcomers Zibanejad, Buchnevich and Pirri especially all helped it function well. They scored once, which essentially put away the game.

– If the fourth line wasn’t the best, it was definitely the second line. Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich looked even better than they did in the preseason. Kreider had an assist and scored a huge goal, the team’s third, which killed the Islanders momentum and out the Rangers back in the lead. Mika Zibanejad had two assists and was causing havoc all night. And Buchnevich looked super comfortable in his first NHL game. He was a bit hesitant to shoot but he looked like he belonged. His slap assist to Kreider was a picture perfect pass that was almost as good as the deke and goal. He’s special and I can’t wait to watch him more.

– Also on that line was Kreider, and this was the best game I have seen from him in maybe a year. Great goal and deke on a breakaway, an assist, seven, yes SEVEN shots on goal, and four hits. Excellent game from him tonight. His speed still makes my jaw drop at times.

– Fellow rookie Jimmy Vesey also had a pretty good game. He’s a great skater and he stick handles well. The Vesey-Stepan-Zuccarello line was passable (Zuccs scored on the ice with Kreider and Zibanejad), but Vesey had a solid debut.

– On defense, the Rangers looked pretty good for the first two periods. There were no huge gaffes by anyone, Staal and Holden looked surpringly effective, and there were no Islander goals scored.

– And then the third period happened. Nick Leddy converted on a good passing play by the Islanders. No one person I can really fault, just a good goal from the Islanders. But Clutterbuck’s tying goal was a disaster. Dan Girardi decided to slide on his stomach instead of defend Kulemin, and that made it super easy for him to pass it to Clutterbuck for the tip in. Awful defending by Girardi and the Rangers were stunned.

– Luckily the team was resilient and answered back quickly, preserving an opening night win over the islanders. Great way to open up the season.

– I was Impressed with Holden and Staal, underwhelmed by McDonagh and Clendening, okay with Skjei’s game, and disappointed by Girardi. Not trying to beat a dead horse there, but he looked a couple steps behind on most plays.

Henrik Lundqvist had a decent performance, Stopping 25 of 28 shots he faced. He did have some great saves early on but also looked a bit shaky at times. I’m sure that’s just rust and early season jitters.

– The win gave Lundqvist 375 career wins, putting him ahead of John Vanbiesbrouck for 14th all time.

– The Rangers play on Saturday against the Blues in St. Louis at 8 p.m.


1) Chris Kreider – 1 G, 1 A, 7 SOG, 4 HT, 16:11 TOT

2) Brandon Pirri – 1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, 10:57 TOT

3) Mika Zibanejad – 2 A, 3 SOG, 17:46 TOT

Posted on October 14, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: