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Rangers go for the homestand sweep against the Avalanche; Lundqvist in search of 400th win

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-avalanche-12-31

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

  • New York Rangers (35-18-1, 71 PTS) vs Colorado Avalanche (15-34-2, 32 PTS)
  • The Rangers are coming off of a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators in the third game of their homestand. Chris Kreider, Michel Grabner and JT Miller scored the goals for New York while Henrik Lundqvist made some impressive and timely saves, stopping 34 of the 37 shots he faced while securing his 25th win of the season.
  • Colorado has had a really tough season so far. After dismissing Patrick Roy in the offseason after the team had faltered in the two seasons after they went 52-22-8 in 2013-14. But now they have just 15 wins in 51 games and are firmly entrenched in last place in the league. They lost to the Penguins, 4-1, in their last game, with the only goal coming from Gabriel Landeskog. They had won two games in a row prior to the loss against Pittsburgh.

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JT Miller has played his way into untouchable status

Bobby Bevilacqua

jt-miller-profile-1-5
Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers have been fortunate to have quite a few talented young players blossoming at the NHL level recently. Kevin Hayes is emerging as a top six quality center, racking up primary points and playing a much better two-way game. Chris Kreider set a new career high in goals and is emerging as a fantastic power forward. And Brady Skjei is far outperforming offensive expectations while playing a very solid defensive game.

But JT Miller’s steady development and consistency over the last three seasons has been the most exciting, and he might be evolving into a franchise player.

Miller, 23, has played parts of five seasons with the Rangers and has improved in each and every one of them. In the 2012-13 season under John Tortorella, Miller was largely a fourth line player, not earning the trust of the former head coach and tallying four points (2-2-4) in 26 games. It was much of the same in Alain Vigneault’s first season as well, recording six points (3-3-6) in 30 games and playing just four playoff games in the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Read the rest of this entry

Rangers take down Nashville for their fourth straight win; Henrik Lundqvist collects 399th win

Bobby Bevilacqua

JT Miller hi five line 2-9.jpg

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

  • The Rangers improved to 35-18-1 with a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators, erasing an early 2-0 deficit with four unanswered goals.
  • Henrik Lundqvist had another strong showing, making 34 saves on 37 shots, including some truly impressive ones throughout the game. He’s been phenomenal over the last eight games and looks a lot like his usual self. It’s nice to see him back to normal. The Rangers need this Henrik Lundqvist in net. He’s one win away from 400 for his career which would be yet another monumental achievement.
  • Kevin Hayes, Michael Grabner and JT Miller had an outstanding game. This line is seemingly here to stay after combining for three of the four goals this night. Grabner scored his 26th goal of the season and is showing no sign of slowing down. JT Miller tallied another two goals, extending his point streak to five games, with nine points (2-7-9) in that span. Kevin Hayes showed off his playmaking skills, tallying three assists and giving him 39 points in 49 games. Hayes and Miller especially have fantastic chemistry, and this line is on fire.
  • Chris Kreider passed his career high in goals with 22, continuing his outstanding season. This is the player that fans have been hoping to see for years. He’s using his size extremely well, getting to the front of the net and utilizing his shot well. His combination of skills and ability to score or impact the game in many ways keeps defensemen guessing and throws them off track. It’s only February and there’s still room for him to grow.
  • Ryan McDonagh picked up another assist, giving him 31 points (2-29-31) so far. That puts him on pace for a career high 47 points. He hasn’t got the same attention or praise as his 14 goal, 43 point campaign in 2013-14. His defensive play has been keeping the Rangers afloat, and he’s back to a productive offensive force again.
  • Overall, this was a better game than the Anaheim victory where they were severely outshot. The Rangers had a lot of good chances and it was relatively even. Much better in that category for the Rangers, and let’s hope it stays that way moving forward.

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Rangers aim for fourth straight win against the Predators

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-predators-12-17

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

  • New York Rangers (34-18-1, 69 PTS) vs Nashville Predators (26-19-8, 60 PTS)
  • The Rangers are coming off of a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks, giving them wins in three straight games as well as the first two games of the home stand. Oscar Lindberg, Mats Zuccarello and Michael Grabner all found the back of the net, with Grabner scoring twice. Henrik Lundqvist made 43 saves in the win
  • The Predators also won their last game, a 4-2 home win over the Vancouver Canucks. Viktor Arvidsson, Calle Jarnkrok and Mike Fisher scored the goals for Nashville, with Arvisson scoring twice. Pekka Rinne made 31 saves for his 21st win of the season.
  • The Predators are in third place in the Central Division right now, holding a one point lead over the St. Louis Blues. The LA Kings are just a point out of the wild card spot too, so Nashville has some competition. Points down the stretch will be very important if they want a playoff spot.

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AV must give Pavel Buchnevich more ice time ASAP

Bobby Bevilacqua

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Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Rangers incredible forward depth has been their biggest strength this whole season, allowing them to fight through many injuries, roll four skill lines and score the third most goals in the league (181). But with so many quality wingers and only six spots in the top nine, somebody is going to suffer because of it.

Lately it’s been Pavel Buchnevich. The 21 year old rookie has been very effective this season, already totaling 15 points (6-9-15) in 21 games and even recording an eight game point streak, scoring six goals and six assists over that span.

Despite all of that, as well as the fact that many other stats back up how good he has been, Buchnevich has found himself on the fourth line for the past few games. Sure, there are a lot of good wingers and forwards that need ice time, but wasting Buchnevich on the fourth line is not the right decision. Read the rest of this entry