NOVEMBER 13th 2016: RANGERS 3, EDMONTON 1
Despite an occasional clutch problem, the Rangers steamroller keeps rolling along and where it will stop nobody — especially enemy sextets — knows.
Exhibit B on the four-game road trip, which concludes on Friday in Columbus after a Tuesday night stop in Vancouver, is the Sunday night 3-1 win in Edmonton.
Glitzy sophomore Connor McDavid was blanked and once again Antti Raanta proved that he’s more than capable of spelling Henrik (Need Him Sharp For The Playoffs) Lundqvist.
OVERVIEW: The second of back-to-back games — Calgary to Edmonton — caused a slight strategy adjustment. Simply put by MSG Network’s John Giannone, “It was a gutty, gritty, determined win for the Rangers.”
KEYS TO THE WIN:
- FAST START: Following the blueprint created in Calgary, the Rangers depressed Edmonton with two first period goals, each symbolic of the surging Blueshirts.
- SURPRISE STARS: Once again — maybe it’s no longer a surprise — Michael Grabner displayed scoring machine qualities by opening the game with a red light and adding the cushion (third) goal with one of his patented breakaways. He has ten goals for the season. Meanwhile Dan Girardi continued to prove that this is his comeback year by completing a neat passing play with a tip-in rebound at 13:18 of the opening period.
- CLOSING THE FLOODGATES: The Oilers pulled within a goal in the first period, posing a long-term threat to tie. But New York shut down Connor McDavid and his speedy friends for the rest of the match; and that was no small feat.
- FLEXIBILITY: Coach Alain Vigneault — minus aces Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich — juggled his lines and came up with a decisive trio. He placed the fleet Grabner on a unit with Derek Stepan and Rick Nash and the trio produced the key goals. Grabner-Stepan-Nash fit like perfectly meshed gears.
- PENALTY KILLS; The Blueshirts killed both penalties. ‘Nuff said.
NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Not very much. But if one wants to get picky; there were a few frustrating times when A.V.’s crew had difficulty clearing their zone. But a solid defensive effort — with timely shot-blocking — cured those minor ills.
- ROAD WARRIORS: The New Yorkers certainly are unfazed by away games and now are two-for-two in Alberta as they head for British Columbia and a game tomorrow (Tuesday) at Vancouver.
- DEPTH: The reserves are more than adequate starting with Raanta and gaps up front were seamlessly filled.
- SURGING: The Rangers dozen wins through 16 games tie the club mark for the most the team has earned in the first 16 games of one season in franchise history.
- NO ACHING BACK-TO-BACKS: In their last 85 back to back sets — since the start of the 2010-11 season — the Rangers have posted a 56-23-6 record in the second game of the set. This year in back-to-backs the mark is 3-0-0.
- STRONGER DEFENSE: Concerns about the club’s backline ability have been erased. The Seventh Avenue Skaters have allowed two goals or fewer in ten of their last dozen games.
THE VIEWER’S VIEW: Nicholas Flaherty of New Jersey offers this: “It doesn’t matter who the coach puts on the ice, the Rangers depth, talent and will to win set them up to be successful no matter which team they play — or where!”
NEXT GAME: Tuesday (Tomorrow) at Vancouver. Starting time 10 PM ET on MSG Network.
FINAL THOUGHT: Don’t take the Canucks lightly; the lesson was — hopefully — learned at The Garden.