Rangers Take on NHL’s Cinderella Story in Vegas

Tonight, the Rangers move on to Las Vegas for the second of back-to-back games before the team takes its’ mandatory five-day hiatus.

[Watch Rangers-Golden Knights on MSG+ & Download Free on MSG GO]

I must be honest. I don’t think I ever envisioned a trip in the NHL that would have included a game in Arizona followed the next night by a match in Sin City, followed by a mandatory five-day break in the regular season action! Someone had far greater vision and more gumption than this old cowboy.

Bill Pidto, Ron Duguay and Steve Valiquette take an in-depth look at the Rangers-Coyotes tilt in Arizona, where Henrik Lundqvist and Jimmy Vesey had standout performances.

Playing last night without two of their top forwards, Chris Krieder and Mats Zuccarello, the Rangers eeked out a 2-1 shootout win over the Coyotes. In an all-too familiar scene, Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant in the first period keeping his team within a goal. Jimmy Vesey, the best Blueshirt player next to Lundqvist, tied the score with a terrific individual effort in the middle period and Mika Zibanejad’s goal in the shootout got the all-important second point in the standings. Take the points. Move on.

So move on to Vegas it is. At the halfway point, there is no better story in the league than what is going on here with the expansion Golden Knights. Given at least a chance to be competitive, with a more liberal set of expansion draft allowances, GM George MacPhee has done a brilliant job assembling a team tailor-made for today’s NHL game.

The Golden Knights have far exceeded anyone’s most aggressive expectations. Well coached, skilled, fast, relentless and disciplined, Vegas has the leagues second best overall record. Whether they can maintain their pace of excellence from here on in is left to debate. In the meantime, this team has galvanized a city that was in desperate need of something good to grasp on to given the tragedy that played out in early October.

KEYS

1. Neutral Zone
There is a no more important area of the ice tonight than the middle. The Golden Knights attack with speed and jump all over pucks when turned over in the neutral zone. It will be a long night if the Rangers don’t play with poise, patience and smarts, blueline to blueline.

2. 1 v 1
A repeated point of reference of late has been the need to compete to win the one-on-one battles. Playing hard with and without the puck in the small ice situations won’t allow the free reign that the Golden Knights thrive in.

3. Execution
Every game starts with a plan. You assess how you match up. Where you may be vulnerable, and where you believe you may have the upper hand. Play to your strengths and protect the weaknesses. Go out and execute the plan that was drawn up to give you the best chance to be victorious.

[Watch Rangers-Golden Knights on MSG+ & Download Free on MSG GO]

The Garden of Dreams Foundation helps kids facing obstacles in the Tri-State area, including Rangers fan Taylor Ryan who is battling a rare blood disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.