Rangers, Islanders and Devils Roll Along

  1. It’s not just that Dan Girardi scored the Rangers‘ winner against Arizona on Sunday. It’s that he’s playing like the warhorse of earlier seasons that’s so nifty.
  1. Dangerous Dan seems to sense his rejuvenation as well as his teammates who realize that he’s pivotal to the club’s success. “I just love the way he competes out there,” enthuses Henrik Lundqvist.
  1. Girardi on playing with rookie Brady Skjei; “I’ll stay back and be the safety belt because we compliment each other well.  It’s kind of like when Mac (Ryan McDonagh) and I played together a little bit when he first came in the league.”
  1. Nobody knew when Jimmy Vesey was signed just how much of an asset he would be to the Blueshirts. And it is still too soon. But early signs indicate nothing but a glowing season for the Harvard grad.

Rangers Vesey Home Stock 102116

  1. Jimmy was the one who put on his best Alex Ovechkin impression to steal a win away from Washington and put the W on the New York side.
  1. Sometimes dressing room banter eludes the fans simply because it takes place in front of the lockers.  After the Maven got ready to interview Thomas Greiss, following his win against the Wild, the likable goalie said he needed 10 seconds to put his shirt on. Then Thomas added the perfect squelch; “I don’t think anybody wants to see me in my bare chest!”
  1. At the start of training camp, Anthony Beauvillier looked like a longer than a long shot to make the Islanders‘ varsity.  But the 19-year-old was so consistently good at camp that Garth Snow retained him for a nine-game tryout.  Since then, the former captain of the Shawinigan Cataractes has dazzled with his footwork despite limited minutes on the club’s fourth line. But last Wednesday, Beauvillier was moved up to the top line on John Tavares‘ wing and continued his excellent play
  1. It will be the surprise of all surprises if Snow dispatches Beauvillier back to junior hockey.  For now, The Kid is putting up better numbers than some of the prolific veterans. “He just plays with tenacity, grit, determination in his game and that’s the way he has to play,” says coach Jack Capuano.
  1. Speaking of rookies, Pavel Zacha has impressed with his offensive skill and it appears that he is going to produce for New Jersey.  The fact of the matter is that, based on his talent, Zacha could have been in the NHL last season. The Czech freshman is getting rave reviews from one important fellow who counts — his linemate Taylor Hall.
  1. There is no doubt that Marty Brodeur still is very much loved in New Jersey even though he is now assistant GM of the Blues.  The affection was evident when Mr. Goalie returned to Newark to have his statue unveiled last weekend.
  1. When I asked Marty how he views the direction of the club with Lou Lamoriello now with Toronto and Ray Shero running the show. And then Marty; “There’s definitely a new trend that New Jersey’s going toward now than it used to be. Look at all the offense that they’re trying to pump in, and the way their defense plays and stuff like that. Before it was just built on defense. They’ve got the goalie.”
  1. An interesting aspect of the Rangers’ goaltending situation will hinge on how many games backup Antti Raanta plays.  Bare in mind that Raanta has never played more than the 24 games he got into last season. It is possible that Alain Vigneault will up that to 30 thereby giving King Henrik plenty of rest for the playoffs.

Rangers Raanta 041316

  1. Time for a nod in the direction of an old pal, Lee Stempniak. This Fall he’s been for Carolina — his 10th NHL club — what he was for the Devils last season: a point-producing machine. Through the Hurricanes’ first handful of contests, Stempniak sits second on the ‘Canes point list with four goals and two assists in six games.
  1. What can one say about Taylor Hall‘s impact on the Devils? Never mind me; the numbers say it all — five goals in six games including a pair of game-winners.

Breaking Down Hall's Two-Goal Effort in Devils' Win

  1. The inside word is that Keith Kinkaid‘s positive attitude, as well as his performance at camp, persuaded the New Jersey general staff to keep KK as Cory Schneiders aide-de-camp.
  1. With the Devils facing back-to-back games — Friday and Saturday at home against Chicago and Tampa Bay, respectively — Kinkaid is sure to get a start.
  1. Meanwhile, Scott Wedgwood, who battled KK for the Devs’ roster spot, has a gleaming 1.67 goals against average and .932 save percentage for AHL Albany which ran up a 5-0 record through Wednesday. By the way, Wedgewood’s face covering is rated second best only to Jake Allen’s of the Blues in a Hockey News poll of Best Masks throughout the ice game.
  1. Best Unsung Pick-Up for the Islanders has to be Dennis Seidenberg who’s averaging more than 18 minutes per game on the Brooklynites’ blue line. He’s among the team plus-minus leaders to boot and scored a biggie on Wednesday night on what turned out to be a disappointing one-goal loss to the Habs.
  1. I like the fact that — despite his early adversity — Andrew Ladd is fully confident that his goals and points will come. Let’s not forget that he came up with a deft poke check that led to Tavares’ goal against the Habs.
  1. There’s a bunch of reasons why the Rangers are 5-2-0 heading into Carolina on Friday night. If you like arithmetic, they’ve recorded 27 goals in seven games and have tallied at least four goals in four of the seven contests.
  1. Reminder: In their two losses — St.Louis and Detroit — the Blueshirts were the dominant sextet.
  1. When I asked the Isles’ Ryan Strome about playing against his kid brother, Dylan of the Coyotes, I wondered whether seniority gave Ryan an edge. His reply: “Dylan is bigger than me so I can’t push him around anymore.”
  1. Not that Lundqvist needs more accolades but the bible of our sport, The Hockey News, voted The King THE Best Dressed Player in the NHL. The runners-up were P.K. Subban, Brooks Laich, Brent Burns and Tyler Seguin.
  1. The Hockey News’ annual “Lists Issue,” also picked the five top “Big Game Players” and King Henrik made the quintet along with Sidney Crosby, Justin Williams, Patrick Kane and Jeff Carter.
  1. Ex-Ranger and Islander Mathieu Schneider has climbed so swiftly in the NHL Players’ Association that Matty now is considered a possible heir apparent to union boss Donald Fehr if The Donald ever decides to give up his NHLPA throne.