1) The Rangers won their fourth game in a row as they defeated the Bruins 5-2 in Boston on Saturday evening. So far, the Rangers have excelled while playing even strength hockey but on Saturday, special teams was the difference. The Rangers tallied two shorthanded goals, and chipped in a power-play goal as they improved to 9-3-0 this season.
2) Antti Raanta picked up his third win of the season, and should see more ice time in the first half of the year. The Rangers would be wise to ride him while he is playing well in order to give Lundqvist extended time off, and preserve the King for the stretch run of the season.
3) “The difference was our goaltending was better than there’s.” Alain Vigneault said on MSG Network. Nice thing to be able to say when you start your backup net minder.
4) Stand up and take a bow if you thought the Rangers would be playing this well offensively and Michael Grabner would be leading the team in goals scored?
5) Grabner tallied his seventh of the season, all at even strength, to put the game out of reach in the third period. Enjoy it now, because I cannot imagine this production from the speedy penalty killer lasting the entire season.
6) “I’m not trying to explain it,” Vigneault said smiling. “I am just enjoying it and I think he is enjoying the moment. You see the speed, you see the threat. Right now he is burying some of his opportunities and we need that.”
7) Brady Skjei is blossoming into a fine NHL defenseman. The smooth skating left-hander now has assists in four consecutive games. His skillset is the perfect addition to the Rangers blue line, especially if the team wants to play with pace for the entire season.
8) Speaking of rookies, Pavel Buchnevich picked up his first career NHL goal in the final frame. Derek Stepan made a beautiful cross-ice pass to set up the Russian. Tuukka Rask, had no idea where the puck was after an elite release from Buchnevich.
9) Buchnevich has been pretty good to start the year. You can easily tell he has a very high hockey IQ offensively. There is plenty of room for development, but with the Rangers current forwards, there should not be too much pressure on him. Winning team with limited pressure is an ideal environment for a promising prospect to develop. He also did his postgame interview on MSG in English, kind of amazing since he has just begun to learn English.
10) Jimmy Vesey had an OK game after getting benched for most of the second half of the Oilers game. In his return to Boston, he did pick up an assist.
11) Chris Kreider does not look nearly as dominant as he did in the beginning of the season. Consistency has been a problem for him in the past, but there is no reason to panic yet. The Rangers have plenty of depth up front, but eventually the Blueshirts will need Kreider to be a dominant power forward.
12) From New York’s PR department, The Rangers lead the NHL in goal differential this season (plus-23; 50 goals for, 27 goals against). The Rangers’ plus-23 goal differential through 12 games this season is the best through the first 12 games of any season in franchise history.
13) Kevin Hayes really looks like a different player this season. Just imagine if I told you last season, Hayes would be used on the penalty kill, and for important defensive zone faceoffs? Most of you, including myself, would have thought I was nuts.
14) Derek Stepan’s importance to this team cannot be emphasized enough. The guy is a terrific two-way center that contributes on special teams and is deeply missed when out of the lineup. There is always a player or two on every team that allows them to execute properly, Stepan is that guy for the Rangers.
15) Nick Holden picked up his first goal as a Ranger on a redirected change up. He was a cheap draft day acquisition for New York, but still turns the puck over way too much for my liking.