Once upon a time, Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog turned the Avalanche into a team to be feared.
That was in the 2013-14 campaign when everything seemed to click and the City of Denver raved about the team that finished the season with 112 points.
But viewed today — and judging by the manner in which Colorado has comported itself since that glorious year — it all seems like something concocted by Dream Works.
Plumbing the depths of the Western Conference the franchise general managed by Hall of Famer Joe Sakic is in a state of chaos and was easy enough for the Rangers to vanquish before returning to The Garden to face Buffalo on Tuesday.
As expected, Alain Vigneault‘s skaters got the job done in a proper and absolute manner, 6-2, Saturday night at Pepsi Center. There should be plenty of smiles in Rangerville from here to Tuesday night when the Sabres invade The Garden.
Simply put, an elite team such as the Blueshirts should drown a floundering outfit like the Avs and, rightfully, no mercy was offered by the visitors.
OVERVIEW: Power prevailed over pathetic for New York’s third straight win, and here’s how:
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- CHRIS COLLECTING HATS: En route to a monstrously superior season, Chris Kreider recorded his second career hat trick. The large scoring machine now has seven goals and two assists in his last seven games and fifteen red lights for the season.
- THE KING CONQUERS: Recovered from his ailment, Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves and stopped all 17 shots he faced over the final two periods. It was his 16th win of the season and 390th career NHL triumph. The win puts him ahead of legendary Dom Hasek to become the all-time leader in wins by a European-born goalie.
- GENIUS WILL OUT: Coach Alain Vigneault relies on the top-half of his forward corps to illuminate the red lights. Against the Avs, Kreider, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller, Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes combined for eleven points.
- POWERFUL PLAY: Over the past two games the Rangers PP has gone six for eleven. Not to be outdone the penalty-killers batted a thousand last night — three for three.
- THE REIGN OF ALAIN: Vigneault coached his 285th career game as Blueshirts bench boss. He therefore ties Herb Brooks for seventh place on the franchise’s all-time games coached list.
- VESEY RIDER: Still a contender for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year, Jimmy Vesey scored a goal and tied for the game-high with three takeaways. He ranks third among league rookies in goals this season with eleven.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Reporter Patrick McCormack: “The Rangers did their job on the short trip West. Kreider, Miller, and Vesey carried the offense. The Blueshirts won the special teams battles and Lundqvist came back strong. The club is headed in the right direction with the next home game and then on the road against Philly and Columbus.”
Reporter Sam Stern: “The Rangers welcomed the new year in style with special emphasis on the power play which is clicking once again.”
COMING ATTRACTIONS: Tuesday vs. Buffalo at The Garden, 7 p.m. TV, MSG Network. Revenge is in order since Jack Eichel burned the Blueshirts the last time these teams met with a late third period goal.
P.S. HAPPY, HEALTHY NEW YEAR!