The New York Rangers dispatched the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 in their last meeting ever at Joe Louis Arena. The Blueshirts were boosted by the return of Rick Nash and Michael Grabner to the lineup and the exceptional play of Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Hayes and Pavel Buchnevich. Antti Raanta was exceptional between the pipes in what is going to be a long stretch for him while Henrik Lundqvist remains sidelined. New York earned its 25th road victory of the season and that total remains the most in the NHL. From an analytical perspective, the game was more positive than the Blueshirts’ last vs. the Carolina Hurricanes, but it was clear the team coasted against a clearly inferior team late in the game. Hopefully, these habits won’t carry over to the Rangers’ next contest against a Tampa Bay Lightning team hungry to gain ground in the wild-card race. With that in mind here’s a look at the Game Score chart from the victory.
1.) Kevin Hayes | 1.56
Hayes had had a sensational third season for the Rangers and has decisively silenced many of the critics who were eager to see him traded in the offseason. The Rangers’ hulking pivot picked up a goal and an assist vs. the Wings and finished with a -4 Corsi differential in 5v5 play. Hayes was also a +1 in the faceoff department, an area he has tried to improve upon this season.
He picked up his assist, a primary one, in the first period while killing a penalty. Hayes carried the puck up the ice and put it toward the net while Ryan McDonagh tipped it deftly into the net. It was a solid play all-around and Hayes is one of the reasons why the Rangers are one of the more dangerous offensive teams in the league while shorthanded. The assist was Hayes’ 29th of the season and 46th point of the season which are new career bests for him. His goal was his 17th of the season which is tied for a career high set during his rookie season.
2.) Antti Raanta |1.55
Raanta picked up his 14th victory of the season making 23 saves against the Red Wings. Raanta is now 4-1-0 in his last five starts with a 1.99 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. He is going to be very busy for the next few weeks with Lundqvist sidelined with a hip injury. Magnus Hellberg only has 51 minutes of in-game NHL experience over three appearances. His last appearance saw him make four saves in the third period of a 7-6 loss against the Dallas Stars. Raanta has proven to be a valuable backup for the Rangers, and now is his time to shine.
3.) Ryan McDonagh
The Rangers’ captain had three goals on the entire NHL season heading into the contest against Detroit. Against the Red Wings he nearly matched his year to date total by scoring twice on three shots. McDonagh now has five goals and 33 assists on the season for 38 points in 68 games.
He is five points away from tying his career high of 43 points set in the 2013-14 season. His 33 assists are already a career best and he deserves a ton of credit for his performance despite not being deployed in the most optimal circumstances.
Honorable Mention: Derek Stepan | 1.00
Stepan gets a mini shoutout here for snapping a 23-game goal drought. The Rangers’ alternate captain picked up his 13th goal and 47th point of the season when his shot on the power play sailed past Petr Mrazek.
Stepan is currently third on the Rangers in overall scoring and second on the team in total assists.
The Rangers next game is tonight at 7:00 at Madison Square Garden vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning.