The New York Rangers extended their win streak to six games after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 3-2. Antti Raanta was sensational in his return to the crease, and he made 30 saves including 12 in the third period. Dan Girardi broke an extended goal drought, and he scored his first shorthanded goal since October 11, 2009. Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey also scored for the Rangers with the latter’s counting as the game-winning goal.
Right now the Rangers are just rolling along, and they have worked their way back into second place in the Metropolitan Division. With that in mind here’s a look at the Game Score report from Monday’s victory over Columbus.
1.) Jimmy Vesey | 1.55
Monday’s game was all Veni, Vedi, Vesey. He came, he saw, and he scored. The Rangers’ rookie scored the game-winning goal in the third period by using a beautiful little backhand to forehand move that was a staple of Marty St. Louis. It created just enough of a deception to draw Sergei Bobrovsky to one side which gave Vesey all the room he needed.
The victory over Columbus was one of Vesey’s best in recent memory, and he was a factor for most of the night. Not only did Vesey score, but he led the team in 5v5 Corsi differential with a +10. For a while, it appeared the NCAA standout had hit a wall because he is not used to such an intense schedule. In many ways, he is still adjusting, but each and every night it is obvious the talent Vesey has, and the player he can be for the Rangers.
2.) Antti Raanta | 1.50
Raanta made a nice return to the lineup between the pipes. Henrik Lundqvist has been on a roll, but it was smart to give the King a night off after capturing his 400th NHL victory. The Blue Jackets peppered Raanta with shots all night long and made an aggressive push in the third period after Nick Foligno tied the game.
In the final minutes, Raanta stood on his head and made multiple key saves to preserve the Rangers’ 3-2 victory.
3.) Derek Stepan | 1.26
Derek Stepan had a great game for the Rangers picking up an assist and finishing with a 5v5 Corsi differential of +6 which was tied for second-best on the team against the Blue Jackets. The Rangers’ alternate captain’s assist was the primary one on Vesey’s game-winning goal and his 29th assist of the season. Stepan’s next assist will be his 30th of the year, and when that happens, it will be his fourth consecutive season of 30 assists or more. Overall Stepan remains one of the Blueshirts’ best players and one who is vital to the team’s success.
4.) Kevin Hayes | 1.01
Kevin Hayes continues to prove why you should never give up on a young player after a bad season. The Blueshirts’ pivot picked up a goal and an assist and is up to 15 goals and 27 assists for 42 points through 51 games played.
His career highs include 17 goals, 28 assists, and 45 points which Hayes established during his rookie campaign. The only bad part of Hayes’ performance against the Blue Jackets was on the puck possession front. Hayes finished a -12 in 5v5 Corsi differential which was third-worst among Ranger skaters. Overall Hayes continues to be an efficient player and one who has a brilliant future ahead of him. He is currently projected to finish with 23 goals, 41 assists and 64 points in 77 games played.
5.) Rick Nash | 0.80
Nash had another night return to his former home of Nationwide Arena. The ex-Blue Jacket and current Blue Shirt tallied four shots on goal in around 18 minutes of ice time. He was a beast on the puck with a 5v5 Corsi differential of +6 and sacrificed the body to block a lone shot. Year to date Nash has a total Game Score of 26.00 and an average Game Score of 0.59 which makes him a solid second liner.
When Nash was acquired, it was because the Rangers needed an established top-threat goal scorer. Age and injury have slowed Nash down a bit, but he is now more of a better overall player. Instead of being a 35-40 goal scorer, Nash can be looked upon to score 20 to 25 goals while providing sound defensive ability 5v5 and while killing penalties. It may be a hard thing to justify considering he counts $7.8 million against the salary cap, but keep in mind he’s a free agent next year after his second deal with Columbus, an eight-year deal, finally expires.
The Rangers next game is Thursday, February 16, 7:00 PM at the Barclays Center.